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NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children

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In a world of modern, involved, caring parents, why are so many kids aggressive and cruel?  Where is intelligence hidden in the brain, and why does that matter?  Why do cross-racial friendships decrease in schools that are more integrated?  If 98% of kids think lying is morally wrong, then why do 98% of kids lie?  What's the single most important thing that helps infants l In a world of modern, involved, caring parents, why are so many kids aggressive and cruel?  Where is intelligence hidden in the brain, and why does that matter?  Why do cross-racial friendships decrease in schools that are more integrated?  If 98% of kids think lying is morally wrong, then why do 98% of kids lie?  What's the single most important thing that helps infants learn language? NurtureShock is a groundbreaking collaboration between award-winning science journalists Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.  They argue that when it comes to children, we've mistaken good intentions for good ideas.  With impeccable storytelling and razor-sharp analysis, they demonstrate that many of modern society's strategies for nurturing children are in fact backfiring--because key twists in the science have been overlooked. Nothing like a parenting manual, the authors' work is an insightful exploration of themes and issues that transcend children's (and adults') lives.


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In a world of modern, involved, caring parents, why are so many kids aggressive and cruel?  Where is intelligence hidden in the brain, and why does that matter?  Why do cross-racial friendships decrease in schools that are more integrated?  If 98% of kids think lying is morally wrong, then why do 98% of kids lie?  What's the single most important thing that helps infants l In a world of modern, involved, caring parents, why are so many kids aggressive and cruel?  Where is intelligence hidden in the brain, and why does that matter?  Why do cross-racial friendships decrease in schools that are more integrated?  If 98% of kids think lying is morally wrong, then why do 98% of kids lie?  What's the single most important thing that helps infants learn language? NurtureShock is a groundbreaking collaboration between award-winning science journalists Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.  They argue that when it comes to children, we've mistaken good intentions for good ideas.  With impeccable storytelling and razor-sharp analysis, they demonstrate that many of modern society's strategies for nurturing children are in fact backfiring--because key twists in the science have been overlooked. Nothing like a parenting manual, the authors' work is an insightful exploration of themes and issues that transcend children's (and adults') lives.

30 review for NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children

  1. 5 out of 5

    Christine Cavalier

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. NurtureShock: New Thinking about Children Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman 2009 New York Magazine journalists Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman team up to add commentary and more information to their articles in this new book published by Twelve, a division of the Hachette Book Group. The last page of the book has this blurb about Twelve: “TWELVE was established in August 2005 with the objective of publishing no more than one book per month. We strive to publish the singular book, by authors who have a NurtureShock: New Thinking about Children Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman 2009 New York Magazine journalists Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman team up to add commentary and more information to their articles in this new book published by Twelve, a division of the Hachette Book Group. The last page of the book has this blurb about Twelve: “TWELVE was established in August 2005 with the objective of publishing no more than one book per month. We strive to publish the singular book, by authors who have a unique perspective and compelling authority.” They lost me at “compelling authority.” Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman are journalists, not scientists. This book isn’t a synthesis of research; it’s an opinion piece with a conservative bent (indeed, Ashley Merryman’s back-flap bio boasts that she “lives in Los Angeles, where she runs a church-based tutoring program for inner-city children.”) I’m not advocating gatekeeping; there is definitely a place for independent research and grass-roots efforts. Child Psychology isn’t one of those places. NutureShock is just another parenting book in a long line of book written by reporters for profit. The authors have a reputation for reporting on overlooked studies with rare results, and they boast in their chapter notes that their New York Magazine articles were popular. Compiling and expounding on past work seems to be the best way to write a book these days; this doesn’t mean that the articles, as a book, make a cohesive or worthy statement. Basically, I found the book to be the amateur, armchair science that is fun to read in small bites while on the train. Read it for entertainment purposes, but don’t implement the few approaches outlined at home; they aren’t tested enough, and the results have yet to be repeated to gain respect in academia. The book does, unwittingly, bring up some good points about statistics, studies, and systemic judgments based on those studies. Statistics and study results are nothing to respect when presented alone. The best way to make decisions about anything is to weigh multiple instances of evidence, to never rely on one event. The authors do their best to rip up school district decisions on testing, anti-obesity and anti-bullying programs, by claiming these decisions were not based on scientific results but just made using traditional thought and instinct. While some programs in districts may be made more based on hope than science, the majority of IQ testing and other educational programs are based on years of study and a large meta-analysis of results of hundreds of studies. To suggest otherwise, as the authors do, is hasty, irresponsible, and insulting to educational scholars, teachers, and parents. The authors proceed to cite a study here, a successful preschool program there, to illustrate their point that decisions about children should be based on evidence. I agree. But A LOT of evidence. Not an anecdotal story or two (which the authors provide), nor 1 or 2 labs that keep getting the same results for their handful of articles. The authors bemoan the lack of long-term studies in almost every chapter, yet fail to mention the very sophisticated and accurate methods of behavioral statistics answers this issue. They sing praises of a preschool program called Tools of the Mind, but conveniently forget to list the challenges associated with the program. This book is a thinly disguised attempt to steer the conversation toward a conservative agenda in education. The writing is ok. Their lack of academic tone in parts is jarring. For example, on page 190, the authors use colloquial language where they shouldn’t have: “… a separate word to distinguish the kind of popular teen who diminishes others –in Dutch, for instance, the idiomatic expression popie-jopie refers to teens who are bitchy, slutty, cocky, loud and arrogant.” An academic article would have used words like “promiscuous,” “disagreeable,” and “condescending,” especially since the Dutch don’t use the English colloquial words that are listed. I also question the choice of listing the derogatory words for females first, or at all. At times the authors conduct their own “studies,” but we should disregard these results. We have no idea what the sampling was, what the control group was given (if there even was a control group), or how the study was designed at all. Until their results can be repeated many times, then one-off studies should merely bring up ideas for further study. The only good that comes out NutureShock is the reminder to hold studies, especially those recounted by non-scientist media, in suspicion. If you are planning to pick up this book, read it for entertainment purposes only. It may make you think a bit differently in some aspects of child-rearing, like how your teen may see arguing as the opposite of lying, or how we whites actively avoid talking about race. The authors should have stayed with reflecting trends in traditional parenting, and avoided passing themselves off as authorities.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

    So far is one of my top 3 parenting books I've ever read. Scientifically backed studies on child development that go against everything you thought you knew was best, well not all of it was new -- but it was all still good. FYI - this book was not written by child psychology experts, but by two journalists in the child psychology field whose "niche" is to report on studies that have gone unheeded. There are ten chapters, each reading like its own essay: 1. The Inverse Power of Praise 2. The Lost H So far is one of my top 3 parenting books I've ever read. Scientifically backed studies on child development that go against everything you thought you knew was best, well not all of it was new -- but it was all still good. FYI - this book was not written by child psychology experts, but by two journalists in the child psychology field whose "niche" is to report on studies that have gone unheeded. There are ten chapters, each reading like its own essay: 1. The Inverse Power of Praise 2. The Lost Hour 3. Why White Parents Don't Talk About Race 4. Why Kids Lie 5. The Search for Intelligent Life in Kindergarten 6. The Sibling Effect 7. The Science of Teen Rebellion 8. Can Self-Control Be Taught 9. Plays Well with Others 10. Why Hannah Talks and Alyssa Doesn't There was A LOT I loved about this book. One of my favorites was the chapter on race. Basically the conclusion is that while non-white parents talk about race in their homes most white parents don't. They (white parents) just assume if you don't say anything, that kids will know that everyone is created equal; in fact they aren't even pointing out we are different - so saying nothing is better than accentuating it. Right? The problem is if you don't help young kids (think 3-6) think through this they'll make their own conclusions about why people have different color skin, which could lead to some problems. So after I read that chapter I sat down and decided to test it. I asked Ellie what color skin she has and what color other people have and why. She says, "There is white and brown and black. Other people have brown skin because they like it the most." So I asked her does that mean she likes white the most? "Yes." Hmmm. Yikes. I guess it doesn't hurt to explain to little kids that some people are from different lands/countries where EVERYONE is that color. And in this country usually you have the color of skin of where your grandparents came from. It's like family. I am planning on using this book for next time I host a bookclub.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Things I have changed about my parenting after reading this book: I have my daughter "read" books back to me after I read them to her. We make a plan for the day complete with drawings and handwriting practice. I tell my kids that I can tell they worked really hard on something, instead of just telling them that they are great. I try to respond more often when my 10 month-old son makes a voiced noise. I have stopped letting my kids watch Arthur or Clifford. I had a conversation with my 4-year old abou Things I have changed about my parenting after reading this book: I have my daughter "read" books back to me after I read them to her. We make a plan for the day complete with drawings and handwriting practice. I tell my kids that I can tell they worked really hard on something, instead of just telling them that they are great. I try to respond more often when my 10 month-old son makes a voiced noise. I have stopped letting my kids watch Arthur or Clifford. I had a conversation with my 4-year old about how some people have black skin and some people have brown skin and that's OK. And, the chapter about what teenaged kids do (and what they tell their parents they are doing) scared the crappity about of me. I DO NOT want my kids to grow up. Or, maybe is there a way to skip the teenaged years?

  4. 5 out of 5

    Breck

    Interesting book. There were a lot of interesting ideas, however, I feel more confused about children than I did before. I guess the point is to open your eyes. One theme throughout is that kids are different than adults and need to be understood differently. A few interesting points: 1. Praise specific achievements and praise effort 2. Regular lack of sleep is damaging to children's health 3. Naturally, we tend to racially segregated, so it's wise to take steps to help your kids learn not to be ra Interesting book. There were a lot of interesting ideas, however, I feel more confused about children than I did before. I guess the point is to open your eyes. One theme throughout is that kids are different than adults and need to be understood differently. A few interesting points: 1. Praise specific achievements and praise effort 2. Regular lack of sleep is damaging to children's health 3. Naturally, we tend to racially segregated, so it's wise to take steps to help your kids learn not to be racially bias. 4. Lying needs to be addressed at an early age, rather than ignored 5. Toddler intelligence tests are very inaccurate 6. Kids better improve social skills with friends than siblings 7. Teens argue to strengthen relationships 8. Teens who have higher standards and basic rules get in a lot less trouble, and generally lie less 9. School programs don't work very well (D.A.R.E., Drivers Ed) 10. Kids shows (even educational ones, Arthur, etc.) teach kids to be "relationally aggressive" 11. Popular, more social kids tend to be more "relationally aggressive" 12. Baby videos don't help with language - better are one-on-one communication with parents - responding to babbling All observations by the authors and researchers, not sure I agree with everything, but interesting nonetheless. I still think one of the best books is "Children The Challenge". Thanks for that, mom!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Paul Eckert

    Since I'm now a parent, I've been looking for parenting books that would interest me, something that was more than repackaged conventional wisdom and phoned-in encouragement. I wanted something scientific, not the new pop-psychology of the week. Nutureshock met my expectations with its science, but that's also where it seemed to lose itself. There are some interesting bits early on in the book regarding praising children (e.g. studies show that telling kids they are smart, as opposed to praising Since I'm now a parent, I've been looking for parenting books that would interest me, something that was more than repackaged conventional wisdom and phoned-in encouragement. I wanted something scientific, not the new pop-psychology of the week. Nutureshock met my expectations with its science, but that's also where it seemed to lose itself. There are some interesting bits early on in the book regarding praising children (e.g. studies show that telling kids they are smart, as opposed to praising their effort, leads to kids not trying as hard) and the psychology of why children lie (and how parents react to lying), but most chapters afterward seemed to flounder in the details. For instance, one of the last chapters is about how kids learn to speak. Though it was interesting to find out why the Baby Einstein merchandise is ineffective and based on incorrect interpretations of research, the chapter then carries on about how babies learn to talk and ways that babies can learn to speak faster, and it spent a great deal of time on this subject whenever it presented no evidence that there was any great benefit to having a child learn language a few months sooner. At one point, it even says that the methods that best work for teaching babies to speak shouldn't be attempted consciously because it might be used incorrectly and actually hinder a child's language abilities. Which brings a parent back to doing what they would have done anyway... The same thing happens in a chapter about a kindergarten program that works so well called "Tools". Instead of telling more about why the program works so well, the reader is barraged with regurgitated statistics on how much better the "Tools" program is than regular curriculum, and at the end left me rewinding to figure out what was so great about the program anyway. In one instance, the authors spend a whole chapter championing the virtues of kids getting more sleep (duh?). But their answer to the problem is making schools start later. They pose one line of opposition, the fact that, despite the positive statistics from other school districts that started their schools one hour earlier, many school districts are hesitant to implement the policy because the district would have to buy more buses since junior high and high school would start so close together. But then they never pose an answer to this opposition, which is a damn good reason not to implement this "one hour earlier" policy. It's not cheap to have to order a whole fleet of new buses, not to mention a whole fleet of new bus drivers as well, and the stress on parents to try to schedule kids that are different ages and whose schools start at different times. Why don't the kids just go to bed an hour earlier? The chapter on teen rebellion was fairly interesting, but also seemed to confirm some conventional beliefs. The most interesting thing was that while the majority of adults felt that arguing with their teenager was detrimental to their relationship, the kids actually felt it strengthened their relationship because they felt they were being listened to. The kids who had constructive arguments with their parents, and even were conceded to time and time again, were also the kids that were more truthful, honest, and respectful of their parents. There was one line in this book that really pissed me off, and I don't mind ranting about it. It was in the chapter about race relations. The authors talk about how minorities are often taught to embrace and celebrate their heritage and ethnicity to cultivate pride. But then the author says that white children are not taught so because it "would be abhorrent" (author's words) since white people hold the majority of the power in the world. First of all, that is some serious PC hyperbole. Power is relative. No one has any inherent "power" over anyone because of their race. Second, what is the alternative? Should white kids be ashamed because they're white? And what if the tables were turned, if what we consider minority race suddenly had 'a majority of power'? Should we then teach 'white' kids to be proud of their heritage and 'minorities' to be ashamed? To be sure, this was just one line in the book, but it was a little upsetting. I think the disappointing thing about books like this is that you expect to learn really exciting new things, and by the end you only remember a few good points. Kind of interesting if you have kids, but there's not a whole lot in this book that one can apply to one's parenting. The conclusions reached are often weak and seem to result from bombarding the reader with dubious statistics like "students' happiness increased 25% after the initial study..." Some things I believe you can objectively test, but measuring happiness in percentages seems a bit ludicrous.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Brett

    Fantastic at times and awful the rest of the time. Bronson and Merryman do a great job getting back to the "basics" in many areas. Noticing the inverse power of praise, the need to discuss race and the idea that self-control can be taught can't be mentioned enough in our culture. Yet, the authors completely avoid the heart of the matter. Child rearing, in their view, can be perfected if we are willing to do enough scientific studies and research to determine what is most effective. The studies i Fantastic at times and awful the rest of the time. Bronson and Merryman do a great job getting back to the "basics" in many areas. Noticing the inverse power of praise, the need to discuss race and the idea that self-control can be taught can't be mentioned enough in our culture. Yet, the authors completely avoid the heart of the matter. Child rearing, in their view, can be perfected if we are willing to do enough scientific studies and research to determine what is most effective. The studies included in the book are fascinating but the conclusions are very questionable. The aggression studies related to TV watching come to mind. I believe the heart of the issue is the matter of the heart. If parents, themselves, are being humble, working hard, living disciplined lives, loving their neighbors, and so on, our children will develop well beyond the child enrolled in the various 10 point developmental programs (Tools of the Mind, etc.). The back cover states that the book "gets to the core of how we grow, learn, and live." I would argue the book lightly touches the surface of how we grow, learn, and live. The core of child rearing is in parents developing the character they would like their children to develop and not simply discovering innovative techniques and programs to manufacture children of virtue.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Victor

    Think Freakonomics meets Malcolm Gladwell, for parenting. Or something like that. Here were my biggest takeaways: SPEECH AND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION * Baby DVDs are particularly bad, because we don't learn language from disembodied speech (TV or radio), but from real live folks. We need to lipread, and we need to interact. * Parent responsiveness to baby's babble, expecially turn-taking and babyese, encourages them. (But don't overstimulate or over-reinforce less mature sounds.) * Object labeling: w Think Freakonomics meets Malcolm Gladwell, for parenting. Or something like that. Here were my biggest takeaways: SPEECH AND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION * Baby DVDs are particularly bad, because we don't learn language from disembodied speech (TV or radio), but from real live folks. We need to lipread, and we need to interact. * Parent responsiveness to baby's babble, expecially turn-taking and babyese, encourages them. (But don't overstimulate or over-reinforce less mature sounds.) * Object labeling: what they're paying attention to, not what their babble sounds like. Motionese helps (up to 15 months). Use variation sets (Bring the book to daddy. Bring him the book. Give it to daddy. Thank you, you gave daddy the book.) OTHER CURIOUS RECOMMENDATIONS * When your kids see you fight, let 'em see you make up! * According to research, the Progressive Dad (inconsistent and permissive) creates kids as bad as the Distant Dad. * At Tools of the Mind, PreK kids draw/write a play plan and teachers hold them to it. * For teenagers, arguing is the opposite of lying - so don't hate them for arguing with you unless you prefer the alternative * Sleep: get your kids in bed! And let them sleep more. They need much more than you do. (And you probably need more sleep too.) * Praise: let it be specific and true, not inflated, vacuous flattery.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Originally a magazine article focusing on the science of parenting, this engaging (and highly readable) book looks at parenting from the realm of science. Most important research findings: Things do not work the same for children as they do in adults (and) positive traits do not ward off negative behavior in kids (a good kid still can be dishonest or engage in relational aggression). In short: A child who is dishonest is (also) showing signs of intelligence and social savvy. And, while praise wor Originally a magazine article focusing on the science of parenting, this engaging (and highly readable) book looks at parenting from the realm of science. Most important research findings: Things do not work the same for children as they do in adults (and) positive traits do not ward off negative behavior in kids (a good kid still can be dishonest or engage in relational aggression). In short: A child who is dishonest is (also) showing signs of intelligence and social savvy. And, while praise works wonders for adults, it can undermine a child's intrinsic motivation. In other words, it is because adults like praise so much that they have lavished it on their kids (intuiting it would be beneficial). Yes, you just read the above correctly. Research also informs us: Why kids lie, that praise is not the end-all-be-all (really!), sleep is THAT important, why kids from "good homes" are aggressive or mean, and proves that language exposure, sign language, and baby videos are not as effective as certain natural techniques.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    So, you had your 2.2 kids and read all the right books, listened to all the right experts, and now you’re an expert too, right? Think again. After raising four children (only one left to put through college) and sitting down to read an adult book or two, I thought there would be nothing new for me to learn about the joys and tortures of parenthood. And then I read NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. This book will challenge everything you thought you knew about raising children. This So, you had your 2.2 kids and read all the right books, listened to all the right experts, and now you’re an expert too, right? Think again. After raising four children (only one left to put through college) and sitting down to read an adult book or two, I thought there would be nothing new for me to learn about the joys and tortures of parenthood. And then I read NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. This book will challenge everything you thought you knew about raising children. This is not a book that proposes the “right way” to raise a child, but rather presents the facts about how the current school of thought on child-rearing actually works (or doesn’t). And just as Steven Levitt accomplishes in his book Freakonomics, which challenges commonly held beliefs on economic issues, Bronson and Merryman support their assertions with reams of research and the results of studies conducted world-wide. Who would have thought that the more you praise a child, the lower their confidence level? Or that an extra hour of sleep may be better for your kid’s IQ than an extra hour of studying? And if your argumentative teen makes you want to pull your hair out, don’t—the alternative is even worse. All this, and more, is waiting for you inside the covers of this intriguing book. The issues covered in NurtureShock concern children at all stages of development, from infancy to the teen years, so all parents are sure to find these insights interesting. But even non-parents will be fascinated by the science behind the information—think of all the fun you’ll have advising your parenting friends and family on what they are doing wrong! Parents love advice from their childless friends . . . Don’t they?

  10. 5 out of 5

    K

    It was hard to decide on a rating for this book. NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children reminded me of a Malcolm Gladwell book in both good and bad ways. Surprising and fascinating information on the one hand; on the other hand, overstated conclusions with inadequate support. The word "shock" in the title is appropriate -- shock value appeared to be more of a concern than hard evidence. I'm more forgiving of Malcolm Gladwell because although his information may change the way you look at thing It was hard to decide on a rating for this book. NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children reminded me of a Malcolm Gladwell book in both good and bad ways. Surprising and fascinating information on the one hand; on the other hand, overstated conclusions with inadequate support. The word "shock" in the title is appropriate -- shock value appeared to be more of a concern than hard evidence. I'm more forgiving of Malcolm Gladwell because although his information may change the way you look at things, it probably won't change your life. Good science, bad science, it doesn't much matter. But if people are viewing this as a parenting book, that's a bit more of a concern (although truthfully, there's not a lot of parenting advice to be had here). I guess what bothered me most is that the author's statements rely a great deal on correlational evidence. So yes, a connection has been established between two variables, e.g., praise and performance, sleep deprivation and obesity, etc. But correlation is not causation. Statements like "children who sleep less are fatter than children who sleep more" fail to take into account the possibility of other variables, or the possibility that the causality may actually work in the other direction. The limits of this type of research remain unacknowledged, as correlational studies are cited again and again. In general, I often felt that the authors were oversimplifying things and presenting only one side of the story. Admittedly, not all the information in the book came across to me as pseudoscientific. But the mixture of stronger and weaker evidence leading to well-supported and not-so-well-supported statements, all expressed in an equally confident manner, made me a bit skeptical. There's no question that NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children is an entertaining and provocative book, with stand-alone chapters allowing for it to be picked up and put down for brief train rides, bathroom visits, etc. I just think it's important to read it critically. A knowledge of statistics helps. If you don't have that, be aware of the limits of the authors' evidence and enjoy their information without swallowing it whole.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    A pair of journalists sum up recent research on childrearing. Some is seemingly obvious: Praise efforts, not intrinsic qualities. Make sure children get enough sleep, in a consistent pattern. Talk about race with children, because they're noticing on their own and they may come to erroneous conclusions. (I actually really liked part of this section, because it talks about how children watch their parents for how to respond to others--and if white kids see that their white parents only have white A pair of journalists sum up recent research on childrearing. Some is seemingly obvious: Praise efforts, not intrinsic qualities. Make sure children get enough sleep, in a consistent pattern. Talk about race with children, because they're noticing on their own and they may come to erroneous conclusions. (I actually really liked part of this section, because it talks about how children watch their parents for how to respond to others--and if white kids see that their white parents only have white friends, or are uncomfortable around people of color, they'll mirror that.) Adults are bad at telling when a child is lying, and need to respond when their children lie. Siblings fight, but this isn't necessarily harmful or the sign of a bad relationship, and they rarely fight over parental love or attention. Having conversations with babies helps them learn language. I was surprised by the research into teen arguments with their parents: apparently its often motivated by a desire to connect and find agreement. It's not necessarily a sign that they're trying to destroy the relationship or that they don't respect the parent (if they truly don't respect their parent, they'll ignore them and do what they please). And I hadn't heard that no early test for intelligence (emotional, physical, or whatever) is particularly good at predicting later intelligence or achievement; kids' intelligence scores aren't reliable until 11 or 12, because neurons, the cerebral cortex, and connections between nerve capsules are still developing, often very rapidly in short periods of time during childhood. Too, children use different clusters of their brain to think. "Smart" kids are the ones who have shifted processing to the same network as adults. The authors make a compelling argument that testing for "gifted" programs should take place later in childhood; testing preschoolers miscategorizes well over half (the authors say 73%) of children. The ideas are interesting, but I was annoyed at the tendentious, breezy way the authors talked about the included studies. They flit from one to the next, proclaiming a single interpretation as the One Truth and then hustling along to the next topic. The lack of critical thought frustrated me and made me doubt their conclusions.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Winddancer

    This book made me reconsider reasons why my son or students do certain things, such as lying, cheating, and reckless behavior. But to be quite honest, it didn't wow me like I had hoped it would. I found the reporting of the research lackluster at best, and from the limited information about the studies cited, I came up with more questions than answers. For example, one study cited the importance of sleep in boosting SAT scores by about 100 points. Data was collected on the same group of students This book made me reconsider reasons why my son or students do certain things, such as lying, cheating, and reckless behavior. But to be quite honest, it didn't wow me like I had hoped it would. I found the reporting of the research lackluster at best, and from the limited information about the studies cited, I came up with more questions than answers. For example, one study cited the importance of sleep in boosting SAT scores by about 100 points. Data was collected on the same group of students for one year, during which time these students were supposed to have gotten more sleep per night. As an SAT tutor, I average 100-200 point increases in most of my students inside three months. So many variables NOT reported in the book could have influenced the increase in test scores, from receiving SAT specific tutoring to simply exposing students to the content (of Math and Writing in particular) of each test segment. Perhaps my criticism is too demanding; after examining research for my masters' degree I can't help but transfer that skill set to other research-based readings. However, while I think this book does offer some valuable insights, I still need more information about how the studies were conducted in order to accept the authors' conclusions.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Cristiani

    Sigh. I really wanted to like this book. But the authors, who clearly were not trained in scientific research, confuse a lot of basic principles that those who practice research clearly see. Anecdotes make for great storytelling, but poor science. Studies aren't actually 'replicated' just because they're done by the same researcher over and over again. And results of any study are open to interpretation - the authors take only one line of interpretation (of course, the one that suits them) and r Sigh. I really wanted to like this book. But the authors, who clearly were not trained in scientific research, confuse a lot of basic principles that those who practice research clearly see. Anecdotes make for great storytelling, but poor science. Studies aren't actually 'replicated' just because they're done by the same researcher over and over again. And results of any study are open to interpretation - the authors take only one line of interpretation (of course, the one that suits them) and run with it. In the end it's just another book interpreting scant evidence, to either a) get parents to act a certain way with their children so they will be nicer/smarter/more obedient, or b) help parents who already act this way foster a certain smug view of the world, that they're doing it "right." It would be so nice to see a book summarizing these studies without putting a proscriptive angle on them...but I'm still looking for it. This isn't that book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    This book is a well-researched freakonomics of parenting, upending the prevailing myths of childrearing. I'm only two chapters in and am hooked. It's good for starting conversations and makes me rethink my childhood and little things I could now to improve my life.

  15. 5 out of 5

    switterbug (Betsey)

    Parenting books are ubiquitous. How to sift through and determine which are worthy? I have a teenage daughter and have read quite a few. Even when I thought I was impressed, there was always something nagging at me about them. I determined that many of the books had an outside or hidden agenda, which was to socialize parents according to a specific sheep-herding mentality. Often, a social consciousness or a reaction to a negative social consciousness about raising children informed these "manual Parenting books are ubiquitous. How to sift through and determine which are worthy? I have a teenage daughter and have read quite a few. Even when I thought I was impressed, there was always something nagging at me about them. I determined that many of the books had an outside or hidden agenda, which was to socialize parents according to a specific sheep-herding mentality. Often, a social consciousness or a reaction to a negative social consciousness about raising children informed these "manuals." In other words, the science behind the thinking was weak--they were often politically charged or reactionary. The blurbs about this book intrigued me, but I was also skeptical--until I read the first chapter on the inverse power of praise. Parents and guardians--just get ye to a bookstore and read the first chapter. I think you will be galvanized by its immediacy and logic (as well as back-up data) and it will inspire you to continue. It all clicked when I read about our praise-junkie tendencies, and how it has a paradoxical effect. The authors never condescend to us; they maintain that all of us want to make the best and most informed decisions. For instance, most of us start telling our babies, from the cradle "You are so smart" as almost a mantra of parenting. The authors do not criticize positive praise--they are revealing the data for specific types of praise. Telling a kid he or she is smart rather than specifically praising them for their efforts will eventually backfire. The child will have a tendency to not put out a lot of effort when they are challenged because they are stymied by the feeling that they have to stay smart, or that they must be NOT smart if they can't solve a problem or puzzle. Telling a kid (s)he is smart is praising an innate feature that is out of the child's control. Praising them for each genuine effort (whether they solved a problem or not) will have a better outcome. I cannot convey to readers the way that these authors channel and support this information--the statistical data and the entire beautiful logic of it--you must read it for yourselves. The chapter on race relations also woke me out of a deep slumber of complacency. Too often, parents try to teach their kids equality just by placing them in diverse environments or showing them videos of multicultural friendships and cooperation. The book explicated a longitudinal study done by Dr. Bigler in Austin, Texas that revealed the lack of actual parent/child discussion on racial equality. That is the key ingredient to integration. Silence is not golden--(silence is black and white, and never the twain shall meet)--it is the wrong kind of colorblind. Just read this chapter and it will open your eyes. Each section is such a wake-up call to parenting that I found myself reflecting on the blind spots in my own methods--not in an immolating way, but rather in an "aha!" manner. It isn't guesswork or just someone's opinion. The longitudinal studies, ongoing tests, data compilation, and control studies are explicit. But, more than that, you will feel a light bulb go off--it is seriously the most intrepid book I have ever read on parenting. No exaggeration. I can apply the book's information to my own parenting experiences and trials and realize how on the mark these studies are. There is a chapter on sleep--its bearing and consequences on child performance, on obesity, and on mood. This section alone is worth the price of the book. I learned which parts of the sleep cycle are integral to the storage of which information. They describe the parts of the brain being affected when information is received and when sleep is disrupted. But, more importantly, the authors lay out the pitfalls of losing just 15 minutes or an hour of sleep--so many teenage problems are associated with this that some trailblazing schools are finally arranging the hours of education based on these studies. But more schools need this call to action. And we need to encourage a positive sleep pattern with our children. I know this sounds de rigueur and obvious. But this chapter on sleep is way more comprehensive than anything I have read before, and profound. Almost everything in the quality of your children's lives depends on it. One of my favorite sections was the one that is like a riptide into everything you thought you knew about your child's language acquisition. Baby Einstein? Fuhgettaboutit. And don't try teaching your children a foreign language by popping in a Spanish DVD and parking them in front of the TV. Not going to happen. As a matter of fact, it will have a deleterious effect. A child needs a "live" person to learn. Additionally, it is the call and response between parent and baby that is the key to increasing their vocabulary and comprehension. Baby Einstein videos are like disembodied voices that do absolutely zip for their education. Sesame Street in Spanish is just as ineffective. Please read the chapter--the whole controversy is revealed when the studies proved that these baby videos are empty and hollow forms of education. Perhaps my personal favorite is the chapter on teen rebellion. I recognize the arguing and lying of children in a whole new way now. How and why children cultivate what we think of as egregious behaviors usually stems from a psychologically astute and desirable place in their hearts and growth. It is the same with arguing. We need to shed our preconceptions and outmoded concerns about teen compliance, obedience, and integrity and understand the necessary steps in their development. There is a paradox about child/teen lying--it is expected, but it still must be dealt with. And there is more--sibling rivalry, IQ testing, testing for elite schools at an early age, self-control, and playing well with others are covered immaculately. Yes, it will blow the lid off, turn upside down just about everything previously advocated in parenting books. But not in a confounding way. That is an important ingredient to consider. This book, the way I perceive it, is not intended to upset or horrify you or derail your parenting experience. (Although, by its very nature it does derail previous long-held concepts, but in a compassionate way.) As a matter of fact, it provided clarity into numerous bogus concepts and the pious conditioning that we have been hanging onto for years. Additionally, it offers specific practices and interventions that can be measured rather swiftly in your own home with these changes to your personal parenting skills. As much as this book "shocks," it is not intimidating or finger-pointing at parents (although it does point a finger into disingenuous studies). The accessible and engaging flow of narrative is dotted with levity, lightness, and always benevolence. I read this book in just a few sittings and I retained the information well. It is easy to go back and reference what you read, as the chapters are laid out in an explicit, user-friendly manner. Slide your other parenting books to the side of the shelf and place this one squarely in the middle. I acknowledge this book as a parenting imperative. Read it and leap.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rachel John

    I really loved this book. I won it as a giveaway. I tend to avoid non-fiction because its so hard to get through, but this should be required reading for all parents, teachers and anyone interested in child psychology. Each chapter covers a different study of children which often caused unexpected results. In many instances, parents, teachers, government or scientists are putting a lot of well-meaning time, money, effort, and emotional deposits into ideas or programs which studies show do not pr I really loved this book. I won it as a giveaway. I tend to avoid non-fiction because its so hard to get through, but this should be required reading for all parents, teachers and anyone interested in child psychology. Each chapter covers a different study of children which often caused unexpected results. In many instances, parents, teachers, government or scientists are putting a lot of well-meaning time, money, effort, and emotional deposits into ideas or programs which studies show do not produce the expected results. The authors tell you in detail why this happened, and what studies were done to discover why. The detail on the studies is almost tedious, yet neccessary. They tell you how each study was done, for how long, if there was a similar study done elsewhere, follow up studies, how many children were involved, how cooperative the parents and teachers were, where the study took place, socioeconomic backgrounds, race, etc etc etc. The chapters almost always start with an intersting anecdote that seems unrelated to the topic, but explains things perfectly as you read through the chapter. Some of the topics covered are, lying, praise, self-esteem, teen rebellion, sibling relationships, how kids view race and much more. The authors found that there are two biases that had to be overcome before these studies could be done properly, understood clearly and implemented in the lives of children: 1. Things work in children the same way they work in adults (The Fallacy of Similar Effect) (It shouldn't be hard to see this is false, and yet the studies get overlooked in favor of what is best for adults - such as when school starts, zero-tolerance policies, discipline and praise, diversity training and the list goes on.) 2. Positive traits in children oppose or ward off negative behavior (The Fallacy of the Good/Bad Dichotomy) A few examples would be assuming children with good self-esteem are less agressive than kids with bad self-esteem - its the opposite, assuming that children who clearly understand what lies are and why they are bad lie less. (They lie more convincingly and more often.) Cause and effect are tricky things. It is a really long read (as is this review - I apologize) but is jam packed with so many goodies that I'll be referring back to it for a long time. I'm afraid to lend it out. I wish I had a few more copies!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Adam Crossley

    "When they get going, it's like a freight train. It's paralyzing." This from a frustrated mother in regards to her children fighting. Why do children fight, lie, rebel, get along or learn self control? In Nuture Shock these topics are expounded upon, with each chapter having a specific focus. Some of the chapter succeed admirably. The chapter titled "The Sibling Effect" is a fascinating explanation of how having a brother or sister can be make children better at playing with others but only if the "When they get going, it's like a freight train. It's paralyzing." This from a frustrated mother in regards to her children fighting. Why do children fight, lie, rebel, get along or learn self control? In Nuture Shock these topics are expounded upon, with each chapter having a specific focus. Some of the chapter succeed admirably. The chapter titled "The Sibling Effect" is a fascinating explanation of how having a brother or sister can be make children better at playing with others but only if they learn how to play nice. That is, in particular, teaching the older not bully and boss around the younger. Seems simple, but like many things, simple is not always intuitive. The chapter linking self-control to creative play and staying in character was a joy to read. It is encapsulated in this anecdote; if you ask children to pretend they are soldiers on guard they can stand quietly still for much longer than if you just challenge them stand quietly still without the role to play. The chapter expands this idea in ways that are based on careful studies and have profound implications for early childhood education. The book is written in magazine style and some of the authors personal stories are a bit hokey. However, these personal stories are short and often just a side point to the research. Overall I give this book 4 stars because is was easy to read and had several "a ha" moments. It was real close to a 5 star but a few chapters were the tiniest bit longwinded. I'd recommend this book to an expectant parent (I am one) and also anyone in early childhood education. Most likely they will find something of value in here. I did!

  18. 4 out of 5

    unknown

    This book is clearly going for a Freakonomics vibe, in that it reads like a chapter from Freakonomics extended to book length. One of the less interesting chapters, too. There's a lot of good, meaningful data, but it just isn't presented in a very interesting way. I need more colorful anecdotes in my pop psych books.

  19. 5 out of 5

    sleeps9hours

    Great book exploring the newest research on children and adolescents. I love Po. Chapters and summaries: 1. The inverse power of praise—praise for effort, not ability. Be specific. Teach them their brain is a muscle, if they use it on hard problems they’ll make it stronger. Don’t let them believe that being smart means they shouldn’t have to exert effort. Be willing to talk about failure. Failure shouldn’t be taboo. Mistakes are part of how we learn and test theories. Give intermittent reinforceme Great book exploring the newest research on children and adolescents. I love Po. Chapters and summaries: 1. The inverse power of praise—praise for effort, not ability. Be specific. Teach them their brain is a muscle, if they use it on hard problems they’ll make it stronger. Don’t let them believe that being smart means they shouldn’t have to exert effort. Be willing to talk about failure. Failure shouldn’t be taboo. Mistakes are part of how we learn and test theories. Give intermittent reinforcement—if you get constant rewards you won’t be persistent; you’ll give up as soon as the rewards disappear. Promote grit. 2. The lost hour—make sure kids get enough sleep. Lost sleep contributes to lower IQ, negative emotion, attention problems, and obesity. Get high-schools to move start times back an hour (to 8:30 or later). During puberty, the circadian system does a “phase shift” that keeps adolescents up later. In prepubescents and grownups, when it gets dark outside, the brain produces melatonin, which makes us sleepy. But adolescent brains don’t release melatonin for an extra 90 minutes. Memories that are emotion laden get processed during REM sleep. The more you learned during the day, the more sleep you need at night. Einstein slept 10 hours a day. The brain does synthesize some memories during the day, but they’re enhanced and concretized during the night—new inferences and associations are drawn, leading to new insights the next day. Perhaps most fascinating, the emotional context of a memory affects where it gets processed. Negative stimuli get processed by the amygdala; positive or neutral memories get processed by the hippocampus. Sleep deprivation hits the hippocampus harder than the amygdala. The result is that sleep-deprived people fail to recall pleasant memories, yet recall gloomy memories just fine. Sleep loss increases the hormone ghrelin, which signals hunger, and decreases its metabolic opposite, leptin, which suppresses appetite. Sleep loss also elevates the stress hormone cortisol, which stimulates your body to make fat. 3. Why White parents don’t talk about race—talk about race. Race is a sign of ethnic heritage. Kids are not color blind. They notice race and have a natural preference for their own ingroup. Discusses ways for schools to be more successful at integrating. Currently integrated schools foster LESS positive attitudes about other races and kids within them are LESS likely to have a friend of another race. 4. Why kids lie—tell kids you will be happy if they tell the truth. They are trying to please you when they lie b/c they think you’d rather not hear the truth. Politeness teaches lying. Encouraged to tell white lies, children gradually get comfortable with being disingenuous. They learn that honesty only creates conflict, while dishonesty is an easy way to avoid conflict. And don’t try to trap kids in a lie. Don’t discourage tattling. 9/10 times a tattler is telling the truth, and for every one time a child tattles there were 14 other times the child was wronged and did not come to the parent for aid. 5. The search for intelligent life in kindergarten—don’t have high-stakes testing in kindergarten to determine giftedness for life. Late bloomers are common. Kids IQ scores aren’t that reliable until they are 11-12 years-old. Alternative methods of determining intelligence aren’t any better, and often overlap (the smart kids are also emotionally intelligent). 6. The sibling effect—sibs don’t vie for parental attention, they fight over stuff. How they are socialized to work it out at a young age is critical. Teach them how to have fun together and enjoy each other. They need skills to initiate play on terms they can both enjoy, find activities they like to do together, and gently decline when they don’t want to play. Books and shows with sibling story lines make things worse. They almost all portray siblings fighting, insulting, and devaluing each other at some point, even if a lesson is learned at the end. Best predictor of sib relationship quality is older sib’s relationship with his best friend. Kids who can play in a reciprocal, mutual style with their best friend have the best rapport with their younger sibs years later. Shared fantasy play represents one of the highest levels of social involvement in young children. 7. The science of teen rebellion—They lie to protect the relationship with their parents. Permissive parents still have kids who lie, sometimes the most. Objection to parental authority peaks at 14-15. The type of parents who are actually the most consistent in enforcing rules are the same parents who are most warm and have the most conversations with their kids. They’ve set a few rules over certain key spheres of influence, and they’ve explained why the rules are there. They expect the child to obey them. Over life’s other spheres, they supported the child’s autonomy, allowing her freedom to make her own decisions. The kids of these parents lied the least. Kids drink and do drugs b/c they’re bored. Boredom starts in 7th grade and increases all through 12th grade. Intrinsic motivation drops across those same years. The more controlling the parent, the more bored the kid (doing stuff the parent has signed them up for). Some teen brains can’t get pleasure out of doing things that are only mildly or moderately rewarding. They’re like a junkie who needs the big jolt. And when they do experience excitement, their ability to gauge risk and foresee consequences is impaired. Not all teens are wired like this. A risk they won’t take? Embarassment. Kids don’t mind arguing moderately with parents. They think it brings them closer. Even a tiny concession makes them feel it was resolved satisfactorily (no tattoo, but you can buy some crazy shoes). Let them win some arguments, and get small concessions in others. 8. Can self-control be taught?—yes. Start early. Driver’s Ed and DARE don’t work. Tools for the Mind does. Kids should make a plan and stick with it over a protracted time. They were playing specific roles in a pretend game. Play games that require restraint, like Simon Says. There’s a graphic version where kids are drawing to music and have to start and stop to the music. Incorporating make-believe helps kids stick with a task (stand still-2min, vs. be a guard standing still at your post-11min). If they don’t want to write, pretend you’re a waiter, take orders. Children learn abstract and symbolic thought through play. They talk out loud when learning letters. Letter C, “start at the top and go around”. It’s important for kids to self-monitor if they are getting it right. A teacher will write 4 D’s on the board. Encourage them to say which D is the best. Point out where a mistake is, but make them find it. Buddy read, they can narrate from the pictures. Make a plan for a day/hour. Give prompts to extend play sessions (take babies on a field trip). Tools kids have demonstrably better executive function (computer task). Being disciplined AND smart is exponentially better. 9. Plays well with others—the aggressive kids are also the popular (socially dominant) kids. It is normal, we are primates. Children’s television is also to blame—Arthur, spongebob, clifford, etc all teach bad behavior through modeling the misbehavior of characters, even if there is a lesson at the end. The more educational media kids watched, the more relationally aggressive they were. And their physical aggressiveness was the same as those who watched violent TV (power rangers). Let kids see you argue to the resolution. Don’t start arguing and then leave the room. Children who are “bistrategic controllers”, who use both prosocial and antisocial tactics to get their way, are popular, well-liked by kids and teachers too (who rate them as being agreeable and well-adjusted). The trick is in achieving the right balance of the two. 10. Why Hannah talks and Alyssa doesn’t—parents should be responsive to babies’ verbalizations. Baby DVD’s bad. Babies can’t learn from recorded voices. They need to see the face. They need a caregiver to respond as they are looking at something. Don’t crisscross labeling by saying what you think they are trying to verbalize, just say what they are pointing to. Conclusion: The myth of the supertrait—there isn’t one. For gratitude to exist we need to know that good actions are intentional, costly, and beneficial. Do weekly, rather than daily, gratitude exercises (journaling, etc) otherwise risk gratitude fatigue. No inverse relationship between gratitude and negative emotions. Journal was helpful to kids who were low in positive affect. But made kids already high in hope and excitement less happy, hopeful, and grateful. Maybe interfered with their sense of autonomy and independence.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lars Guthrie

    ‘Nuture Shock’ is a wonderful collection of essays on child development that carries more weight than you might think. On an initial glance, it appears to be another example of what Adam Hanft, in a review of Steven Johnson’s ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’ (http://bnreview.barnesandnoble.com/t5...), called ‘pattern porn’. Hanft defines the genre as ‘non-fiction characterized by a seductive thesis that is supported by an ingenious arrangement of scientific support—manipulatively cherry-picked, in th ‘Nuture Shock’ is a wonderful collection of essays on child development that carries more weight than you might think. On an initial glance, it appears to be another example of what Adam Hanft, in a review of Steven Johnson’s ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’ (http://bnreview.barnesandnoble.com/t5...), called ‘pattern porn’. Hanft defines the genre as ‘non-fiction characterized by a seductive thesis that is supported by an ingenious arrangement of scientific support—manipulatively cherry-picked, in the eyes of some critics—and lush anecdotal juxtapositions that are voyeuristically irresistible.’ You’ve seen them on the display racks—those books attractively encased in stripped-down graphics and catchy titles: ‘Blink,’ ‘Drive,’ ‘How We Decide,’ and…‘NurtureShock.’ But ‘NurtureShock,’ despite its package, shuns the seductive thesis. Instead, Bronson and Merryman’s main goal is that readers avoid thinking in black and white. If we start with the assumption that there is one right way to bring up children, they warn, we are falling for the ‘Fallacy of the Good/Bad Dichotomy’—the ‘tendency to categorize things as either good for children or bad for children.’ Thinking that antibiotics can only be good because they kill bad bacteria might lead to overuse and problems with resistant bacteria. In the same way, looking at lying solely as a negative trait in children is not entirely helpful. We learn how to lie. It’s part of development—a necessary part. Lying requires intelligence and social sense. There’s probably a connection between lying and ‘theory of mind’—the ability to think about what others are thinking about. But ‘NurtureShock’ is not a screed for allowing kids to lie, cheat, steal and engage in self-destructive behavior. The authors assure us they are ‘still telling kids to “play nice” and say thank you.’ What they want is objectivity—to steer us toward a balanced approach in developing cognition and citizenship, based on research. They believe that ‘good stuff and bad stuff are not opposite ends of the spectrum,’ but ‘are what’s termed orthogonal—mutually independent.’ When we look at children, the ‘many factors in their lives—such as sibling interaction, peer pressure, marital conflict, or even gratitude—can be both a good influence and a bad influence.’ The other assumption Bronson and Merryman urge us to avoid is the ‘Fallacy of Similar Effect’—the idea ‘that things work in children in the same way that they work in adults.’ If we’re really going to base the rearing of children on evidence, we have to really be careful about confirmation bias—thinking that we already know what studies will show. To examine the way kids learn we have to free ourselves of preconceptions based on our adult experience. In many cases, the best and simplest solution is not quite as simple as it looks. For example, Bronson and Merryman point out that the experts mostly agree that trying to force-feed language skills to babies through videos such as the infamous ‘Baby Einstein’ DVDs just doesn’t work. Why? Babies need to look at adults talking to learn to segment, to tell where one word stops and another begins. Lip reading is part of speech learning. Don’t stop there, though, because learning to talk is not a passive activity. Caregivers need to encourage language production by the child, not just ‘push massive amounts of language into the baby’s ear.’ They need to be more than live versions of Baby Einstein. ‘If…you think a baby isn’t contributing to the conversation,’ Bronson and Merryman note, ‘you’ve missed something really important.’ One sign of good non-fiction is that it makes you want to find out more. I wish Bronson and Merryman had gone beyond babies in their discussion of language development. I work with elementary school and high school kids who have weak expressive language. Like the babies in ‘NurtureShock’ whose language development is lagging, I believe this is because they do not have enough conversation where they are expected to make sounds—in this case sounds consisting of specific and clear vocabulary. Too much of adult communication with children is one-sided, and in other venues—school, books, and digital devices—there is lots of input but little output. Bronson and Merryman’s look at language development—‘Why Hannah Talks and Alyssa Doesn’t’—is just one of ten essays in ‘NurtureShock.’ The essays, while tied together by their focus on research into child development, are each valid as stand-alone pieces. Indeed, three of the chapters in the book were published that way, in ‘New York’ magazine. It’s really an anthology, rather than a thesis with one central theme. The first chapter—‘The Inverse Power of Praise’—garnered quite a bit of attention when it appeared in 2007. It gets to the other connection between all of these essays: avoiding the ‘fallacies’ previously mentioned. Besides the fact that viewing praise as not necessarily a good thing is counterintuitive, praise is effective with adults. So common sense tells us to praise our kids. Research by Carol Dweck (http://mindsetonline.com/) and others have shown a danger in doing so. Bronson and Merryman are searching for what we don’t readily see, what common sense doesn’t tell us, but scientists do. Children are getting an hour less sleep than they did thirty years ago, and that lack of sleep is reflected in performance. Avoiding the issue of race because we want kids to understand we’re all equal results in the opposite outcome. By demanding that kids look us in the eye and speak the truth, we train proficient liars. Channeling kids into gifted programs based on testing when they're five shuts out gifted students who don’t test well at that young age. I.Q. changes. Siblings fight not in competition for attention, but for booty. Our Freudian legacy—that brothers and sisters are ‘locked into an eternal struggle for their parents’ affection’ is misguided. ‘It turns out that Shakespeare was right, and Freud was wrong,’ say Bronson and Merryman. ‘Sibling rivalry may be less an Oedipal tale…and more King Lear.’ Social skills are not just about being nice. Aggression and manipulation are cards that play well for the popular kids. We’re right in observing that teenagers think differently than their parents—way differently. But pictures of moody and negative youths need to be tweaked. The authors quote Temple University psychologist Laurence Steinberg: ‘The popular image of the individual sulking in the wake of a family argument may be a more accurate portrayal of the emotional state of the parent, than the teenager.’ It seems that teens get something positive from such a battle, and then are often better at letting it go. The chapter titled ‘Can Self-Control Be Taught?’ especially resonated with me. Bronson and Merryman’s answer is yes, and they illustrate their case with the work done by Elena Bodrova and Deborah Leong in their ‘Tools of the Mind’ program, based on the ideas of Lev Vygotsky. Bodrova and Leong’s book is at the top of my list of the best books about child psychology (http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...). ‘NurtureShock’ now enters that list. Bronson and Merryman have assembled ten provocative essays that present up-to-date research and will prompt experts and non-experts alike to think more deeply about children and learning. Highly recommended.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Whenever I read a non-fiction book that I give 5 stars I like to read through the reviews of those who give the book 1 or 2 stars to discover why they didn't like it. In this instance I'm dumbfounded by what they say because I just keep thinking, "did you not read the paragraph where they addressed that very issue?" For instance in one review a complaint is made about the chapter on children needing more sleep. A solution mentioned in the book is that high schools start an hour later. Many school Whenever I read a non-fiction book that I give 5 stars I like to read through the reviews of those who give the book 1 or 2 stars to discover why they didn't like it. In this instance I'm dumbfounded by what they say because I just keep thinking, "did you not read the paragraph where they addressed that very issue?" For instance in one review a complaint is made about the chapter on children needing more sleep. A solution mentioned in the book is that high schools start an hour later. Many school districts do not want to do this as it would mean having more buses. This reviewer remarked, "why don't they just go to bed an hour earlier?" Well the answer to that is on page 36, "In prepubescents and grownups, when it gets dark outside, the brain produces melatonin, which makes us sleepy. But adolescent brains don't release melatonin for another 90 minutes. So even if teenagers are in bed at ten p.m. (which they aren't), they lie awake, staring at the ceiling." (emphasis added) Or in other words going to bed earlier wouldn't get the teenagers the additional sleep they need - instead their wake time needs to be later. A number of other reviews also complained that the authors say you'll ruin your children. The only (mild) instance I read of that is in the language acquisition chapter (10). The scientists involved have realized that when adults respond--either verbally or with physical affection--to a new (more advanced) sound in babies' babbling the child will notice and try to attract further attention by making the new sound more often. The warning was that adults learning about this might respond to any and all babbling in an effort to encourage the child and this would result in the baby making more sounds but not necessarily more examples of the advanced sound. There were several additional warnings in the chapter about overdoing efforts to improve a child's language acquisition. Basically, a child will acquire language as you interact with them. There were two other warnings in that chapter along the same lines--too much of a good thing is a bad thing--which boiled down to: - Respond instead of initiating. Instead of "Hey, see this phone" respond when child reaches for, points at, toy phone by remarking, "Phone. Do you want the phone?" Or if a child is engrossed in staring at the shadows the leaves are making, "Do you see the shadow of the leaves?" - Let the language learning ebb and flow. Essentially you don't have to be interacting with your child or responding to them all the time. Let the child have quiet time to practice sounds. Realize it's normal to be distracted while making dinner, thus not responding as frequently as when changing a diaper or playing with the child. To be fair, there was one review that posited, "[the authors:] presented no evidence that there was any great benefit to having a child learn language a few months sooner," and there isn't any; aside from the realities of better communication with a child and relieving of the stress that your child might be backward. I suppose just gives the recommendation to let the learning ebb and flow more credence. I could go through each claim that the reviews I read made but I'll spare you. The other overall complaints about the book are that the authors went looking for experiments that backed their claims and thus don't present opposing viewpoints or only present the science; and that the book is dry. Concerning the first, the opposing viewpoints are presented as the ones currently inherent in our culture (such as children are naturally race blind); also the authors point out when the cited experiments either don't have corroborating evidence or a sufficient body of data. For those who say, "just give me the science without your opinions" I wonder that they don't read scientific journals, even just the articles that the authors are basing their opinions off. For the last, if someone thinks the writing is dry that's how they feel. Though I was thoroughly engrossed.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Casey

    "They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had And add some extra, just for you." -Philip Larkin, from This Be The Verse A few years back, I caught an informercial for a product called "Your Baby Can Read.” Supposedly, the program can teach babies to read before they’re even able to talk, despite the fact that scientific evidence strongly suggests that babies can’t learn language from television. The product seems to have been pulled by "They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had And add some extra, just for you." -Philip Larkin, from This Be The Verse A few years back, I caught an informercial for a product called "Your Baby Can Read.” Supposedly, the program can teach babies to read before they’re even able to talk, despite the fact that scientific evidence strongly suggests that babies can’t learn language from television. The product seems to have been pulled by the producer, but that hasn’t stopped me from using the hilarious infomercial when teaching psychology. It’s just another example of the flawed idea that children need to be doing everything faster and earlier, with no regard to whether reading Harry Potter is developmentally appropriate at age two. I was not an early reader. I wasn’t a particularly late reader either, but I certainly wasn’t reading before kindergarten, or even much in kindergarten. My parents read to me, and sometimes I memorized books so that I could parrot them back to my parents, but that was pretty much it. Around first grade I had some sort of a-ha moment, and, after that, I read voraciously. Still do. This was a pretty normal developmental trajectory. Now, with increased pressure on parents to put their kids on the Harvard track by preschool, my reading would probably be a huge cause for concern. Developmental Psychology is one of the most relevant classes that most people skip in college. College students spent so much of of their time trying to figure out how to not accidentally create a human fetus that they seem to forget that this might be something they’ll want to do on purpose later in life. One great opportunity offered by Developmental Psychology classes is understanding exactly what your own parents did wrong while raising you; this is not because it comes in handy during Thanksgiving arguments, but because it helps to humanize your parents. They were just doing the best they could, but they didn’t know what they were doing. No one does. More importantly, though, Developmental Psychology clarifies some of the bizarre processes by which children learn and grow. It can help future parents realize that it’s better to provide clear rules instead of trying to be your kid’s friend, although it’s best to keep these rules reasonable and open to negotiation. It can help people understand what so-called normal development really looks like, so that they’ll be able to tell when there’s actually a problem. Hopefully, it can help quell the crazy over-scheduling of kids, which I have to believe wouldn’t be happening if parents understood how important sleep actually is. Anyway, this book is not as good as a Developmental Psychology class, and there were a few points where I didn’t feel like they explained the research literature as well as I would have liked, but it’s still a good resource for anyone who has to deal with kids. Of course, my boyfriend was very happy to hear that I was only reading this for teaching purposes. Not surprising, really. Parenting sounds terrifying.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    I think it'd be safe to say that I tend to believe things written in parenting books I read when they "ring true." In other words, I like reading books that confirm what I already believe, whether or not I already know it. Nurtureshock is not that kind of book. In almost every chapter, there is a finding that doesn't make sense until the authors break down the data that shows that it does. It's a troubling book because it makes a very good case against "instinctive" parenting. Instead, what Po B I think it'd be safe to say that I tend to believe things written in parenting books I read when they "ring true." In other words, I like reading books that confirm what I already believe, whether or not I already know it. Nurtureshock is not that kind of book. In almost every chapter, there is a finding that doesn't make sense until the authors break down the data that shows that it does. It's a troubling book because it makes a very good case against "instinctive" parenting. Instead, what Po Bronson and Ashely Merryman state is that some of our best intentions produce the worst results in our kids due to our wishful thinking, bias, fads, our own personal history and old psychology. For instance, showing your kids episodes of Arthur and Clifford can increase cruel behavior and aggression. Praising your child for being smart may be harmful to his academic performance (even if he is really smart). Assuming children are "color-blind" and not talking about race may cause children to become racist. DVDs like Baby Einstein and other videos that claim to speed up language development or produce multi-lingualism can actually delay normal speech skills. Other chapters cover why less sleep is a significant contributor to childhood obesity and ADHD, why kids lie, why gifted and talented programs are flawed, why siblings really fight, why teen rebellion is a sign of respect (gah!) and why I wish there was a Tools preschool program in my area. I enjoyed reading this because it was eye-opening, relevant and also because whatever parenting myth was being challenged, the data supporting any new claim was thoroughly explained. It helps that Bronson and Merryman didn't back away from using all of the scientific jargon that usually causes my eyes to glaze over. Most of the time, the opposite happened and the empirical evidence presented was surprisingly accessible while the flow between narrative and research was smooth and convincing. It isn't often that I claim that something or someone changed the way I think. But Nurtureshock did just that. The "shock" in the title is no lie. This shocked me. In a really good and, I hope, empowering way.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Karpuk

    It's kind of disconcerting to read a book that feels like it's talking directly to my childhood issues. The first two chapters of "Nurture Shock" touch directly on issues I dealt with a lot as a kid. The first is all about how constantly commenting on a child's intelligence, even praising it, can often sabotage that child's ability to put forth effort. Essentially, if they're told that it's all about intelligence, then failure means they're not smart enough. The second deals with just how badly s It's kind of disconcerting to read a book that feels like it's talking directly to my childhood issues. The first two chapters of "Nurture Shock" touch directly on issues I dealt with a lot as a kid. The first is all about how constantly commenting on a child's intelligence, even praising it, can often sabotage that child's ability to put forth effort. Essentially, if they're told that it's all about intelligence, then failure means they're not smart enough. The second deals with just how badly sleep actually messes up children, and how extremely off-kilter the sleep cycle of a teenager is. When I was going through high school I sometimes slept only every other night. The book goes through just how badly lack of sleep effects you, highlighting how it actually robs you of positive memories more than negative memories. Yep, lack of sleep actually makes your brain a less pleasant place. This book is full of things that stick sideways in how most people think a nurturing parent should operate. Overall it lays out not only good advice for parents, but good advice for any thinking human being. It gels together with a lot of the educational books I've read lately in that it comes to the conclusion that children are a lot more complicated, and that it takes not just quantity, but quality for a kid to be stable and happy. There's so much useful data floating around that I'll probably keep this book handy in case I need to come back to it. It's information on cognitive skills is a great read from start to finish. The only issue I can really find is that it occasionally points out a great program like Tools of the Mind or KIPP, but doesn't really provide any suggestions on how the average nurturing parent reading the book can bring such useful learning tools into their own lives. But it gives the reader enough information to learn more, which is ultimately what any responsible parent should be doing anyway.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    My principal at my school suggested that I look into this book, knowing my super-nerdy, knowledge cravings in the basic science of raising kids. I liked this book so much, I just might have to buy it. It confounded everything I thought about praise--now I tell Phineas and my students that they are hard workers, not that they're the best. It's more motivating to them. I learned about teenage rebellion which will help me understand the needs of my mia maids. It taught me about how language is deve My principal at my school suggested that I look into this book, knowing my super-nerdy, knowledge cravings in the basic science of raising kids. I liked this book so much, I just might have to buy it. It confounded everything I thought about praise--now I tell Phineas and my students that they are hard workers, not that they're the best. It's more motivating to them. I learned about teenage rebellion which will help me understand the needs of my mia maids. It taught me about how language is developed more briefly and powerfully than my master's degree (make sure the child is looking at your face, and those early interaction, 3 months plus, totally affect a child's cognition). It's good for children to see parents have conflict and resolve it. All the educational shows on TV have taught children how to be relationally aggressive. I mean, seriously, this book is a treasure trove. On page 194, I like these paragraphs, "When we changed the channel from violent television to tamer fare, kids just ended up learning the advanced skill of clique formation, friendship withdrawal, and the art of the insult. In taking our marital arguments upstairs to avoid exposing children to strife, we accidentally deprived them of chances to witness how two people who care about each other can work out their differences in a calm and reasoned way." Incredibly thought-provoking and enticing. The 80 pages of sources let you know that it's serious. Yes, I'm an admitted nerd, and I loved this book. I would recommend it to anyone that deals with children in anyway.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    What it is: A survey of psychological studies concerning children and how they are raised. Who should read it: Parents who care about their kids, especially, though this is a fascinating read even for childless folk like me. Why I liked/didn't like it: This is a highly palatable non-fiction. The authors do an excellent job of explaining difficult concepts in a clear and concise manner. The content is fascinating- challenging preconceived notions of how children and adolescents think, and how parents What it is: A survey of psychological studies concerning children and how they are raised. Who should read it: Parents who care about their kids, especially, though this is a fascinating read even for childless folk like me. Why I liked/didn't like it: This is a highly palatable non-fiction. The authors do an excellent job of explaining difficult concepts in a clear and concise manner. The content is fascinating- challenging preconceived notions of how children and adolescents think, and how parents should go about raising them. It wasn't the fastest read I've ever had - non-fiction rarely is - but it was very enjoyable, and not too dense or too long to manage. Rating: 4 stars.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Aneesa

    It only took me five months to finish this summary, which I wanted to do because I have to return this book to its owner: Preface: Science is slow and must be replicated. It can take decades to learn anything. Don't believe sensationalized media reports. Introduction: Parental instincts are often wrong because they are not actually instincts (which are the urges to nurture and protect). Instead they are assumptions based on "wishful thinking, moralistic biases, contagious fads, personal history, a It only took me five months to finish this summary, which I wanted to do because I have to return this book to its owner: Preface: Science is slow and must be replicated. It can take decades to learn anything. Don't believe sensationalized media reports. Introduction: Parental instincts are often wrong because they are not actually instincts (which are the urges to nurture and protect). Instead they are assumptions based on "wishful thinking, moralistic biases, contagious fads, personal history, and old (disproven) psychology." Chapter 1: Praising children demotivates them. If you tell them they're smart or good at something, they think they don't need to expend effort, and that if they don't immediately succeed, it's because they're not good at it. They become afraid to take risks or commit for fear of not succeeding. Praise can be taken by the child to mean he has reached the limit of his ability, but constructive criticism implies he can improve. Praise must be rare, genuine, specific, focused on process (such as trying hard), which is a factor they can control. When children are specifically taught that intelligence is not innate and that the brain grown neurons when challenged, they improve at school. Chapter 2: Children--from elementary through high school--are getting on average an hour less sleep than they did 30 years ago. Getting enough sleep is exponentially more important for children than it is for adults, because their brains are developing until age 21 and sleep is when most of the learning moves from short-term to long-term memory. Negative memories are processed in a different part of the brain than positive or neutral memories, and lack of sleep hits the latter harder. Later high school start times improve standardized test scores. Children and adults start producing melatonin when the sun goes down, but it takes adolescents another 90 minutes. Chapter 3: White parents don't talk to their children about race, but they need to. (I don't think I need to go into why trying to raise children to be color-blind is wrong.) Children notice skin color at a young age and also start categorizing things and people at a young age. They develop "in-group preferences" almost as soon as they notice differences. Children pick up on the fact that their parents don't want them to talk about skin color. Also, the teaching needs to be explicit. You may tell your child for months that all people are equal, but don't forget to tell them what equal means. If parents never talk about other races, children think that their parents don't like people of other races, or they don't know what their parents think. It's hard to break the news to your kids that discrimination exists, but in my opinion if you have the privilege not to have to, you have the obligation to choose to. Finally, the more diverse an environment, the more children gravitate towards people like themselves (increased opportunities to interact also increases opportunities not to). (Read Beverly Tatum's book "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" to learn why this can be developmentally appropriate.) The best time to have these conversations is first grade. Third grade is too late. Chapter 4: Adults are absolutely terrible at telling when children are lying. Teachers can do it slightly better than 50% of the time and police officers slightly worse. Kids start to experiment with lying between their third and fourth birthdays, a little earlier for those with older siblings. On average, six-year-olds lie once an hour. Two-thirds of kids will grow out of it, but if it works, and they're still lying at age seven, they'll stick with it. Parents tend not to address it, believing that their kid is too young to know what a lie is or that it's wrong. The better a kid can distinguish between a lie and the truth, the more likely she is to lie. As far as others lying, children can't tell the difference between a lie and a mistake or a change of plans. 38% of five-year-olds think that swearing is lying, because they think the reason lying is wrong is because you get punished for it. (It's not until age 11 that they recognize other problems with lying, like destroying trust or feeling guilty.) Also, all lies have the same gravitas to them, including acting as if you like a gift which you don't, or saying you are four years old when your fourth birthday is next week. They also totally don't believe you when you tell them that if they tell you the truth about what they did you won't be upset. You have to tell them that if they tell you the truth it'll make you really happy. And then I guess you have to actually be happy. So basically it's really hard to teach your children not to lie, and maybe you don't even want to. (Oh yeah, lying is a sign of intelligence.) Don't put your kid in a position to lie by asking them if they did something bad that you already know about. Finally, people need to stop telling kids not to tattle. Chapter 5: IQ tests and other admissions tests for gifted programs don't really work on little kids as predictors of future academic success, because kids' intelligence progresses unevenly, in spurts. I think you could skip this chapter. Chapter 6: In the U.S., single-child families are now more common than two-child families, yet people keep studying only children to figure out what's wrong with us. Turns out nothing! Except we may get fewer warts and more eczema. Anyway, it turns out that only children have good social skills because we have to learn to get along with friends--who have the option of leaving. Siblings learn both good and poor social skills because they have to be together whether they get along or not, so there's little incentive to be nice. The strongest predictor of whether your kids will get along is not their age difference but the quality of the older sibling's best friendship. Shared fantasy play is one of the highest levels of social involvement for young children--because of how much emotional commitment, negotiation, and paying attention to each other it involves. Sibling relationship quality tends to be stable long-term, unless there is a major life event in the family. Whatever tone is established when the siblings were young is likely to stay into adulthood. Most kids do not clash over parental attention. It's mostly about having to share toys. Also, children's books and shows that are intended to teach kids how to get along with their siblings have the opposite effect, because so much of their real estate is taken up with examples of fighting before the resolution. As I have long suspected, sometimes siblings are mean to each other because they think that's how they're supposed to behave, based on societal and media inputs. Chapter 7: Although parents tend to think that arguing with their teenagers is super stressful and destructive to their relationship, teens disagree and are right--it shows that teens respect their parents enough to argue instead of lie, and as long as their parents listen to them, are reasonable, and sometimes budge (i.e., you can't get a tattoo but I'll let you buy those crazy shoes after all), it improves their relationship. If parents don't do this their kids will lie to them a lot. Having a lot of rules doesn't really affect the lying (if you don't have enough rules your kids think you just don't care, and those are the kids who "go wild" and lie more), but being too inflexible does. The parents who are most consistent in enforcing rules are the ones who are the most aware and have the most conversations with their kids. If you set a few rules over certain key spheres of influence, and explain why, and expect obedience, but otherwise support your kid's autonomy, your kid will be less likely to lie. This plays out in other cultures too. For instance, although Filipino children are not supposed to challenge their parents, they actually have the highest rates of conflict. But they argue about the rules--not about the parents' authority to set the rules. The need for autonomy decreases with age--it peaks at 14 to 15 and resistance to parental authority is slightly stronger at 11 than 18. In the 50s and 60s it was thought that all teens would and should rebel. Turns out those studies were based on kids already in clinics and therapy. In the 70s when psychologists started studying the general population of kids in schools, 75% of teens reported having happy and pleasant relationships with their parents, and those who didn't had been having adversarial relationships with their parents since before puberty. But I guess it was too late to get the old story out of the media. Young kids' brains light up for any reward, adults' according to the size of the reward, and teens' only if it's a really big reward. Otherwise their interest dipped below baseline. Basically they're like drug addicts and the reward center of their brains cannot be stimulated by low doses. What does this have to do with anything? Their prefrontal cortex, which weighs risk and consequences, shows diminished response when their reward center is experiencing intense excitement. So you see where we're going with this. In abstract situations, teens can evaluate risk like adults. Not so in real life circumstances. Part of the reason is how teens' brains process the information--when presented with some really bad ideas, adults imagine the consequences and instantaneously identify them as bad ideas. Teens have to weigh the decision longer to come to the same conclusion. Chapter 8: D.A.R.E. doesn't work. Driver's Ed doesn't work. Programs to keep kids from dropping out of school don't work. This chapter outlines a program for pre-K and kindergarten that does work--for teaching kids self-control (which includes intrinsic motivation, long attention spans, etc.) Some of the basic elements which you can implement at home include the child creating a "play plan" before she starts playing or studying or any task. She can return to it to whenever she gets distracted, bored, or unmotivated. Even kids too young to write can create one. It helps enable "mature, multidimensional, sustained play," which is important because you have to be able to avoid distractions in order to learn and succeed. Then there's the "clean-up song" which when used regularly acts as a trigger to get kids to clean up without being told (and they'll speed up if they're nearing the end of the song and not close to done yet). "Buddy reading" involves one kids reading a story, the other listening and then asking questions about the story, then switching roles. Simon Says helps children practice restraint. In "graphic practice" the teacher puts on music and the students draw spirals and shapes until the music stops, and they must stop their pens immediately. Children in classrooms which use these methods are well-behaved, calm, and ready to learn. Playtime is important for children NOT because it's a break from learning, like it would be for adults, but because children learn basic developmental building blocks necessary for later academic success better while playing. Another example is how imaginative play develops symbolic thought, which is necessary for learning to read or tell time. One practice that helps develop self-reflection through internal dialogue is teaching kids to talk themselves through activities, such as writing a C while saying, first aloud and later in one's head, "Start at the top and go around." Writing a bunch of Cs and then circling the best one from each row (or doing so on a partner's work) helps students learn the self-awareness to know when they're doing well--critical later in academia. Practices such as these teach children to be self-organized and self-directed (as well as well behaved), because they help develop the prefrontal cortex, which governs executive function--planning, predicting, controlling impulses, and persisting. Poor impulse control, for instance, is what tricks kids into selecting the "distractor" answer on a multiple-choice test. Knowing that you're not doing well literally tells your brain to concentrate more. If you don't know you're not doing well, you literally can't concentrate more. Chapter 9: There are three types of antisocial aggression, physical aggression, relational aggression, and verbal aggression. Even so-called "educational" books and television tend to teach preschoolers to be relationally and verbally aggressive--2.5 times moreso than watching violence makes kids physically aggressive--because the majority of the stories are examples of bad behaviors, so that a good behavior can be taught in the end. This connection goes over young kids' heads. Educational programming is just one way that the things parents do to teach prosocial behavior backfire. Another example is fighting in front of your kids. Never end a fight in order to resume it later when the kids aren't around. It's better for them to see a fight and its resolution ("constructive marital conflict"), maybe even better than not witnessing the fight at all. Then there was this whole section on spanking which basically says that if you're white you shouldn't spank your kids. Then the book actually references the Berkeley Parents Network and how many parents around here "anguish over whether jumping into the sandbox is appropriate to defend their children from a toy-grabber" and "confess that their once-cute child has become socially aggressive, which they find abhorrent and are at a loss to stop." Then we get to the part where most scholars agree that bullying can have serious effects and need to be stopped, but balk at the "zero tolerance" approach, because lapses in judgment are developmentally normative--a result of neurological immaturity. Inflicting automatic, severe punishments can cause erosion of trust in authority figures and the kids become afraid that they'll break the rules by accident. Which sounds super stressful. Also, it's usually the popular kids who are the biggest bullies anyway. The next part of this chapter explains mean girls and why parents telling their kids to be nice will never outweigh the obvious and immediate gains in social status of not doing so, which are compounded by segregating children by age instead of integrating them into adult life where they could witness good role models and gain social status outside of their peer groups. Finally, this chapter suggests that Progressive Dads are afraid to discipline their kids. Chapter 10: Baby videos will not help your child learn language. The more kids watch Baby Einstein, the worse their vocabularies. Why? Partly because babies need to see lips moving to learn language, but mainly because videos can't interact with and respond to the baby's own sounds. (Yet?) Then there's the "verbal pedometer" (chattering to your baby throughout the day). How many words you speak per hour actually DOES correlate to children's vocabulary. (As does a ton of other factors in the lives of children of professional parents vs. welfare or working-class families.) However, more recent research suggests that what's more important than the amount of language pushed into the baby is parents' notice of and reaction to the language coming from the baby; i.e., having fake conversations (pretending you can understand the baby and modeling turn-taking) and giving positive reinforcement via echoing or a well-timed, loving caress when the baby pronounces syllables. Speaking in a sing-song tone also helps. Sorry! Also, holding a turning an object as you label it, and having more than one person repeat its name. Points of caution: Don't overdo it. Let the baby rest and babble to herself a fair amount of the time. Don't over-reinforce less-resonant sounds when a baby is otherwise ready to progress. Above all, wait to "object-label" when your baby's eyes naturally gaze at an object (and she vocalizes or points) vs. directing the child's attention. For instance, if your baby is holding a spoon and says "cu," you need to correct them that it's a spoon, not assume they want their cup. Also, grammar teaches vocabulary. Children can't make out nouns located in the middles of sentences until 18 months. "Word frames," such as "Look at the _____," quickly become frames of references, and kids can easily tell which is the new part of the sentence. Whatever comes after "Don't" is something he should stop doing--even if he doesn't yet know the words "touch" or "light socket." Similarly, "variation sets" enable children to learn synonyms and pronouns: "Rachel, bring the book to Daddy. Bring him the book. Give it to Daddy. Thank you, Rachel--you gave Daddy the book." Conclusion: Studies show that gratitude journals make adults happier but not so for kids. In addition, unlike adults, kids high in gratitude suffered from troubled moods and problem behavior just as much as kids low in gratitude. This is illustrative of a larger point: Things don't necessarily work in children in the same way they work in adults (remember the part about how play helps kids learn, not just take a break, and the sleep thing?). Also, positive traits don't necessarily oppose and ward off negative behavior in children. We tend to think that good behavior, positive emotions, and good outcomes come together. Not necessarily so. Remember that dishonesty is a sign of intelligence and social savvy, and imprisoned felons have higher emotional intelligence than the population as a whole. For this reason I found this book extremely interesting and super frustrating.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kami

    I didn't really like this book overall, I mean some of the things were interesting, but it felt like the book was geared to parents at a certain socio-economic level, which I'm not at. I guess I mostly just felt that way because of the chapter on childhood intelligence, I definitely am not a parent that can afford to have my 3 yr. old's IQ tested for some ritzy preschool. Give me a break. And the chapter on worrying whether your child learns five words sooner or later is ridiculous--he had just I didn't really like this book overall, I mean some of the things were interesting, but it felt like the book was geared to parents at a certain socio-economic level, which I'm not at. I guess I mostly just felt that way because of the chapter on childhood intelligence, I definitely am not a parent that can afford to have my 3 yr. old's IQ tested for some ritzy preschool. Give me a break. And the chapter on worrying whether your child learns five words sooner or later is ridiculous--he had just gone through an entire chapter before that on how intelligence is so flexible and how it's silly to classify according to a kid's ability at that young of an age. Also the whole discussion on a "progressive" parent. It just made me want to laugh. I'm glad I have my Latino "traditional" husband. The author writes, "Today, with three years of investigation behind us, Ashley and I now see that what we imagined were our "instincts" were instead just intelligent, informed reactions. Things we had figured out. Along the way, we also discovered that those reactions were polluted by a hodgepodge of wishful thinking, moralistic biases, contagious fads, personal history, and old (disproven) psychology--all at the expense of common sense." pg. 6. Well, I think this book continues to promote contagious fads, wishful thinking, and is still based on moralistic biases and personal history--at the expense of common sense. Don't get me wrong, I agree with some things whole-heartedly, like kids need more sleep, zero-tolerance policies are overkill, and that praise is used way too much. But in other things he completely undermines himself. For instance in discussing the negative influence of educational television, he then quotes Spongebob. Not even the dumbest kindergartener thinks Spongebob is educational. Why not quote an actual "educational" show? Or in reporting about spanking he says how spanking has been shown not to be as horrible as we thought, but yet it still is the worst thing possible. At least that's the mixed message I came away with. And as far as the Tools program? Ummm...the word contagious fad comes to mind really quick. Not saying it's not beneficial, it just reminds me an awful lot of the sudden popularity of Baby Einstein videos too. My father used to quote to my siblings and I (all nine of us), "Studies have shown that with each additional child, the IQ of the siblings drop." An absolutely ridiculous statement if you think about it. That claim is based solely on socio-economic factors, nothing at all with the number of children. Another of my father's favorite sayings was, "Statistics will say anything when tortured long enough." The writing in this book reminded me of both of those statements. It wasn't a pleasant association.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I am definitely not the kind of person who reads parenting books. Maybe because I had a terrific childhood and my parents produced three successful, “nice” people I guess I’ve assumed I learned (subconsciously) by example. Isn’t that what they say? Parents are models for behavior? Anyway, I’ve heard a lot of buzz about this book from multiple people so decided to pick it up. There are definitely some new revelations here. I’d heard before that too much praise can actually hurt self-esteem but th I am definitely not the kind of person who reads parenting books. Maybe because I had a terrific childhood and my parents produced three successful, “nice” people I guess I’ve assumed I learned (subconsciously) by example. Isn’t that what they say? Parents are models for behavior? Anyway, I’ve heard a lot of buzz about this book from multiple people so decided to pick it up. There are definitely some new revelations here. I’d heard before that too much praise can actually hurt self-esteem but the studies and results that back this up are amazing. I also found the chapter on race surprising, everything from whether you should make a “big deal” about skin color (you should) and the fact a diverse area has more segregation. Also, the bit about Progressive Husbands was a little unsettling because I myself have a Progressive Husband. Apparently they have less marital satisfaction and think their households are lower functioning than in traditional households. I’m sure it’s because the husband is out of the loop in the “traditional” household so doesn’t get how stressful things can be on a day to day basis. And if my husband wasn’t a big contributor to the household let me tell you he’d be getting no “marital satisfaction” at all. He’d be getting no “marital” anything! Also while such situation might be less stressful for the husband it'd be more stressful for the mom. I guess that's neither here nor there... it was part of a bigger discussion on aggression, something not applicable to our kids thus far. (Also the authors made Progessive Dad seem wishy-washy and insecure - not the case in my house). There were a few chapters I found somewhat dull and drawn-out and that felt more like book filler than important research (the sleep one in particular – don’t most people know this? Also the chapter on gifted programs). Overall, though, this is a must-read for every parent. I’m even having my husband read it. Hopefully he will not demand a more “traditional” role.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I am giving this three stars because it was a well-written and provocative book with some (perhaps) useful takeaways to use with my kids. But! Sometimes I wanted to throw it across the room. Because it's like a Freakonomics or maybe Malcolm Gladwell for kid-issues, it's constantly turning common assumptions upside down, often based on the results of A Study. I am never sure how much weight to give A Study, so ultimately I feel more confused than ever about things I should be doing/saying to my c I am giving this three stars because it was a well-written and provocative book with some (perhaps) useful takeaways to use with my kids. But! Sometimes I wanted to throw it across the room. Because it's like a Freakonomics or maybe Malcolm Gladwell for kid-issues, it's constantly turning common assumptions upside down, often based on the results of A Study. I am never sure how much weight to give A Study, so ultimately I feel more confused than ever about things I should be doing/saying to my children. For example, here are a few things I have been doing routinely that the book says are definitely bad: 1. Telling my kids that they are smart. (Orenstein says no telling them they're pretty; now no telling them they're smart, either? Can I . . . still tell them they run fast? Is our nightly "G'night! Love you! See you in the morning!" imparting some dire message? 2. Limiting TV viewing to PBS. Educational television viewing (read: PBS) (read: the only television we let our kids watch, really) increases bad/cruel behavior in children even more than violent behavior is correlated with violent television. 3. When arguing about something with my husband, giving each other "the look" when we notice the girls are listening, and saying, "We'll talk about this later." Apparently here I am failing to let my children see compromise/resolution in action . . . 4. Emphasizing honesty. 5. Routinely asking children to name or focus on things/people they are grateful for. (Not that this is bad, per se, but studies show that it is not correlated with long-term happiness or satisfaction.) I don't know. I'm either going to go back through the parts I marked and try to put some new rules into practice, or just throw the book at the wall and try to forget I read it.

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