From Publishers Weekly
Promoting a research-backed view of the parents-in-charge approach to child rearing, Sunderland's guide is a smart, complete book that never overwhelms. Laid out like a school textbook, with clear organization, copious color photographs and plenty of boldfaced "Key Points," Sunderland's text is upbeat, accessible and encouraging. Advice is both common-sense and well-considered: "each time you help your child think and feel about what he is experiencing, and each time you find the right words for his intense feelings, you are probably helping the development of more sophisticated communication networks in your child's corpus callosum." Sunderland focuses on explaining how the child's underdeveloped brain motivates so-called behavior problems, including "tears and rage" caused when baby's "higher brain is not developed enough to moderate these powerful lower brain systems naturally." One of the most interesting elements of the book is its insight into how a given parenting style affects a child in the long-run, such as the idea that "being left to cry means a child learns that he is abandoned just at the time when he needs help" and can make him vulnerable to depression and anxiety disorders. Easy-to-use and entirely thorough-covering not just baby care, but mom and dad care too-this is an excellent resource for parents, caregivers and other policy makers.
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The market is awash in opinionated child-rearing guides, and it's hard to argue with opinion. Sunderland takes a smarter approach. Relying on scientific studies, she simply tells us what happens to a child's brain and body when, for example, we either hug the child or let him or her cry it out. Little decisions can have remarkably lasting effects on both the individual and society. Unlike many parenting guides, this isn't repackaged conventional wisdom. And although the title suggests a cold, clinical approach, the opposite is true. In well-organized, easy-to-read chapters with plenty of photos and sidebars, Sunderland argues for a hands-on, nurturing approach and points out that many modern parenting choices--separate beds for babies, for example--fly in the face of 200,000 years of Homo sapiens evolution. Of course, all science is subject to interpretation, but one look at the brain scan of an affection-deprived child will make parents hug their kids tighter. The only downside? Parents who are disabused of erroneous parenting lore no longer have the comfort of believing that there are no right answers. Keir Graff
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