Wednesday, April 20, 2011

NurtureShock by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman

8 out of 10: This book is one of my favorite "parenting" books. I read it when it came out in 2009 because I had read the article the first chapter is based on and because I have really enjoyed Po Bronson's works. Reading his book What Should I Do With My Life? made me change my mind about a nursing career, and Why Do I Love These People? made me realize all families are messed up to an extent and not just my own. Anyways, I read it when Brayden was an infant, and decided to reread it now that he is a toddler. I chose it as April's book for the book club I am in. It's interesting because when I read it the first time, I definitely focused on the chapter about language development and how to increase it in infants and toddlers. This time, the chapter on the importance of sleep was what hit me the most. The other two women in the book club have children a little bit older than Brayden, so they really liked the chapter on a preschool method that has been very successful in teaching self-control.

I reviewed it on my personal blog back in 2009:

This book is about modern parenting and how we might have some things very wrong.

Praise- Parents want to praise their children, of course. And they are likely to praise them for being smart. That, it turns out, can have some negative effects. Kids who are told they are smart so fear losing that label that they are hesitant to tackle subjects they don't feel as comfortable in. On the other hand, kids are who praised for their effort in a test or subject will work that much harder to grasp new subjects.

Sleep- Many current experts blame television for the recent spikes in obesity levels and ADD/ADHD diagnosis. Science is showing that a loss in sleep might be a more determinant factor. Kids now get about an hour less sleep than they used to. The science has shown that kids need that sleep. Obesity levels would go down, grades would go up, etc.

Racism- Most parents are of the opinion that you shouldn't draw attention to racial differences. However, studies show that racial differences are obvious to children as young as 6 months of age. Children categorize everything, it's just what they do. So if you don't talk about race, they are going to categorize anyways. Most parents avoid the topic of race until third grade, but the science is now showing that there is a good window of opportunity around first grade to have your children understand and accept these differences more readily.

The rest of the book is great too. There's a chapter on the absurdity of defining kids as gifted in kindergarten (thereby closing that door to late bloomers, of whom there are many). There's a chapter on siblings and how younger siblings are not necessarily better socialized as we used to think because they learn poor social skills from their elder siblings just as much as good social skills.

The writing makes scientific and technical information easy to grasp. And even if you don't agree with all of it as it regards to parenting, at least it got me thinking about the whys of parenting more.

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