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NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by…

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children (edition 2011)

by Po Bronson, Ashley Merryman

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1,135637,212 (4.05)39
Title:NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children
Authors:Po Bronson
Other authors:Ashley Merryman
Info:Twelve (2011), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 352 pages

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NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson


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1: Praise effort, not smarts. Teach kids that the brain is like a muscle. The harder you work it, the better it gets. Praise intermittently. Be specific. Chinese moms who analyzed the child's performance (Maybe you didn't concentrate) and tell their kids to work harder affect kids' scores more than American moms who tried to downplay poor performance.

2: A lost 15 minutes to an hour of sleep has a measurable impact on performance.

3: Living in a diverse community or going to an international school is not enough to make children less racist. Race must be explicitly discussed by parents with their children, preferably before third grade. Around fist grade.

4: Lies: Don't put kids in a position to lie ("Did you write on the wall?" You know they did it. They'll just deny it). To encourage kids to tell the truth, there should be immunity making the parent happy = "I will not be upset / your friends won't get punished if you did [that bad thing]. If you tell me the truth it will make me happy/"

5: IQ tests before 11 or 12 are meaningless.

6: The Sibling Effect: Didn't get a lot from this chapter. Will have to reread.

7: Teens: arguments can be constructive. Parents can negotiate.

8: Tools classroom. How to get kids to focus, sustained play. To look into, could apply to my own learning. Ex: Penmanship, identifying the best character. Buddy reading. Play plans.

9: TV and aggression. Children can be exposed to parental conflict, but make sure to resolve arguments sincerely in front of them.

10: Baby talk. Respond to sounds made by babies, with either physical touch, or verbal. Reinforcement, makes them talk earlier, larger vocab. A word can be learned faster if heard spoken by different speakers. Label objects when the baby's gaze is on it, don't call attention to it. Don't (mis)interpret sounds for words. (Baby says "buh". Parent says "You wanted the bottle?" when actually the baby meant the spoon.) Educational TV can't take the place of love interaction. Parents who are high responders to children have kids who develop their vocab faster.


Like other reviewers have pointed out, it's like Freakonomics for parenting. You might think something is so, but research shows that it isn't, and here's what you should try to do instead. ( )
  mrsrobin | Jun 24, 2017 |
NurtureShock is fine for what it is, a pop psychology book that repackages and oversimplifies recent scientific studies on child development. It's written in a very breezy style that goes down easy and doesn't bear too much thinking about. This is not to malign the researchers whose studies were featured but rather Bronson and Merryman's glib summarization of their work.

I started out liking the book but became increasingly skeptical as I noticed some basic mathematical errors in the authors' interpretation of the data. And I guess silly anecdotal stories are a standard feature in this type of writing? Like, zomg, I spent 20 minutes with a baby and she totally said "fruit" at the end of it. This proves it! Science!

For me the most valuable chapter was the first one, about praise. That seemed commonsensical and manageable for a thoughtful parent. I will say I took away some concrete strategies from that. An easy to read parenting book for people who don't like or want to be caught reading parenting books. But certainly not to be considered serious science. ( )
  sansmerci | May 25, 2016 |
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. ( )
1 vote wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
This book covers several areas of developmental psychology in an accessible way- it reminded me a lot of Freakanomics, for child psychology instead of social psychology. I liked this book better than Freakanomics though in that more studies were covered for a given topic and the topics seemed tighter. The authors, journalists, supplemented just reading the articles with interviewing and sometimes observing the studies of some of the leading researchers in the fields.

Topics covered: Praise, Sleep, Race, Lying, Intelligence/IQ tests, Siblings, Teen Rebellion, Self-Control, Aggression, and Language Development.

Note that most of the studies presented (and topics overall) are about younger children (infants - preschool). Since I currently have a toddler that fit with my interests very well.

Some of the studies and conclusions were familiar to me because I have a background in educational psychology, but I haven't been involved in academia for awhile and even when I was I only focused on certain areas. So many of these studies were new to me. There's a bibliography at the end that I plan to take advantage of to learn more from the original sources. ( )
  kparr | Dec 31, 2015 |
Nurture Shock’s basic premise is to take traditional parenting techniques and ideas and turn them on their heads. For instance the first chapter, called The In Inverse Power of Praise, is about how over praising children can have the opposite effect of what the parent intended. The child’s performance may actually decrease. Each chapter cites studies and research the authors have uncovered to support their conclusions. Most of the authors’ assertions make total sense after they explain the research that’s been done on the subject in question, even though it contradicts conventional wisdom.

My favorite chapter, that I think every parent should read, is Why White Parents Don’t Talk About Race. I have long railed against the notion of color-blindness being a sincere or realistic perspective and this chapter helps explain why. When parents don’t talk about race, it leaves children confused and often thinking any mention of race must be bad because their parents never talk about it.

This book is more about how children’s brains work and doesn’t have that many specific techniques that a parent could just lift out of the book and put into practice. However, if a parent has a better understand of how her child’s brain works and what her thought processes are, then she will be better able to come up with ways of dealing with her child that works for her family.

I think this is definitely one book every parent should have in his/her arsenal. ( )
1 vote mcelhra | May 29, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
But to judge from these pages, the authors are a bit too enthralled with their academic sources. Their penchant for describing psychological studies and research projects as if they were chemistry experiments, with phrases like “the test of scientific analysis” and “the science of peer relations,” conjure up the image of Thomas Dolby repeatedly exhorting “Science!” ......Bronson has adroitly polished a fairly unoriginal subject into high-gloss pop psychology.

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0446504122, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:29 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Award-winning science journalists Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman demonstrate that many of modern society's strategies for nurturing children are in fact backfiring--because key twists in the science of child development have been overlooked. The authors discuss the inverse power of praise, why insufficient sleep adversely affects kids' capacity to learn, why white parents don't talk about race, why kids lie, why evaluation methods for "giftedness" and accompanying programs don't work, and why siblings really fight.… (more)

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