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NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children Paperback – January 5, 2011
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"The Freakonomics of child rearing... a fantastic read... a wake-up call for parents."
―Good Morning America
Astonishing... prepare to be slack-jawed... This tour de force is one of the best parenting psychology books in years and will likely be seismic in influence."
―Library Journal (Starred Review)
-- Washington Post
Compelling... Captivating... Explains cutting-edge research to the lay readership... It's riveting."
-- San Francisco Chronicle
"A highly readable Malcolm Gladwell-esque look at the social science of child rearing."
-- 'XX Factor,' Slate.com
"The most important book I've read this year... If you only read one thing I review, please make it this."
"Some of the most groundbreaking research on children conducted in years... will knock your socks off."
"Engaging.... revelatory... A funny, clever, sensible book. Every parent should read it."
"Adds insight to irresistible nonfiction subject matter... destined to turn up in conversations among working parents."
―Susan Dominus, New York Times
"The least touchy-feely [parenting book] ever... hard to put down and easy to take seriously."
―"A.V. Club," The Onion
About the Author
Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman's New York Magazine articles on the science of children won the magazine journalism award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as the Clarion Award from the Association for Women in Communications. Their articles for Time Magazine won the award for outstanding journalism from the Council on Contemporary Families. Bronson has authored five books, including the #1 New York Times bestseller What Should I Do With My Life?
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From whether spanking really does cause aggression in children (turns out only if the parents treat it as a punishment they are uncomfortable with rather than matter of fact) to the largely accepted belief that kids are fat today because they watch too much TV (not true...leisure activity is simply replaced with another leisure activity; turn off the TV and your kid will just go find something else sedentary to do) to why it's important to get your kid to bed early even if it means you miss time with them (unlike adults their brains grow while they sleep), this book will throw everything you thought you knew about kids on its ear.
I consider this book a must read for any parent. Each chapter covers a specific subject (such as why white parents don't talk to their kids about race), the underlying assumptions that cause the belief, what scientific studies got us thinking that way and why that science is wrong and why we need to change our beliefs. I found this book so convincing, I immediately began clearing my head of all the old ignorance and approaching my parenting with the new science in mind.
If Temple Grandin is a must read if you have animals or have an autistic child or family member (and I think she is) then this book is a must read if you have or are planning to have children. The writing was entertaining, even humorous, and the science was easy to follow. Five stars, no doubt.
The best thing I can say about this book is that while it corrects your (mistaken) assumptions, it does so kindly and without putting the reader down. I don't know how they do it, because while I can explain some of the concepts very easily with the same facts and data, when I do it, it comes across as "you've been doing this wrong," while in the book it never does.
I also love their real-world advice and applications. Both authors are, I believe, parents, and they frequently reference towards the end of each chapter how they took their learnings and applied it to their own children. I found these to be the most helpful parts of the books (and the ones that I will mark for future reference.) For example, when talking about education, they highlight a program and talk about its principles. After hearing about the great results, I look up if there are any schools in my area offering this program, but there unfortunately aren't. However, the authors talk about they personally implemented the ideas from the program with their own children (for example, having the child review his own work and grading himself), which I found to be incredibly useful. While one could read the book and figure out how to apply the learnings in real life, I like that the authors (who are presumably more knowledgeable than me), have already done that for me.