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NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children Paperback – January 5, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
The central premise of this book by Bronson (What Should I Do with My Life?) and Merryman, a Washington Post journalist, is that many of modern society's most popular strategies for raising children are in fact backfiring because key points in the science of child development and behavior have been overlooked. Two errant assumptions are responsible for current distorted child-rearing habits, dysfunctional school programs and wrongheaded social policies: first, things work in children the same way they work in adults and, second, positive traits necessarily oppose and ward off negative behavior. These myths, and others, are addressed in 10 provocative chapters that cover such issues as the inverse power of praise (effort counts more than results); why insufficient sleep adversely affects kids' capacity to learn; why white parents don't talk about race; why kids lie; that evaluation methods for giftedness and accompanying programs don't work; why siblings really fight (to get closer). Grownups who trust in old-fashioned common-sense child-rearing—the definitely un-PC variety, with no negotiation or parent-child equality—will have less patience for this book than those who fear they lack innate parenting instincts. The chatty reportage and plentiful anecdotes belie the thorough research backing up numerous cited case studies, experts' findings and examination of successful progressive programs at work in schools. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Reviewers were generally wowed by Bronson and Merryman's breezy synthesis of the latest parenting research. They often favorably contrasted NurtureShock with traditional parenting guides, which seem old-fashioned compared with the authors' cutting-edge approach. But at least one skeptic felt that NurtureShock was just more of the same; the New York Times Book Review noted that every generation has a "revolutionary" book of parental advice, and this one may only seem novel because of a new kind of packaging. Nevertheless, even Pamela Paul found parts of the book interesting, suggesting that there may indeed be something in NurtureShock for everyone. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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.
I used many of the tactics from this book even before I read them, and it is good to know science validated many of my approaches. I believe it helped because one of my children is attending a VERY VERY selective college, due to some of the "secrets" mentioned in this book. They are really not secrets, but I really don't usually tell people about things like how to raise children. So I call them secrets because I only give to those I really care about. I gave copies to only my CLOSEST family members.