Tuesday, April 20, 2010

NurtureShock : New Thinking about Children - Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman

Summary: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.
Summary and cover image from goodreads.com

My Review: NurtureShock promises new thinking on raising children. The book encompasses a wide array of issues including praise, lying, race, teen rebellion, sibling rivalry and more. These two authors have done extensive research and put together a book to dispute modern day parenting techniques.

A few of the sections within this book were interesting, such as the Kindergarten section and the first entitled "The inverse power of praise". While other chapters such as those on lying and sibling disputes offered thought provoking insights into why current methods fail yet left the reader stranded by providing no suggested action. Interlaced throughout were those "well duh" moments found in every parenting book that generate rolling eyes.

With over 100 pages of acknowledgments, notes and references, no one can debate that this book wasn't well researched. The problem lies in how the research was presented. It feels like the authors had their view point and then dug until they found a pile of research to support these views. Once they amassed enough knowledgeable sources these sources were collaborated into a chapter that reads more like a thesis than a parenting book. In one word - dry.

In short if you are looking for a parenting book, this is not one I would recommend. However if you are interested in the research these authors have done and their point of view on child rearing, you can check out their columns featured on newsweek.com with easy access through nurtureshock.com Here you will get the nitty-gritty without having to wade through quite as much mush.

My Rating: 2 Stars

To Sum it Up: Mounds of research supporting these authors' opinions on parenting techniques compiled into a long, rather dull, book.


Lahni said...

I actually really enjoyed reading this book. I thought it was really interesting! Funny that you found it dull and dry. I have to agree though, it's not exactly a parenting book - I found that a little frustrating a times. I'm not sure that was the point though. I don't think they were trying to present it as a parenting book, just a collection of essays describing some of the unexpected results of studies being done on children.

Unknown said...

:-) I have it rated 5 stars on goodreads. I don't call it a parenting book but a child development book. How children develop / why they function like they do book.

I'm choosing this book for my next bookclub because I like it when there is a difference of opinions and actually a good discussion.

I can definitely see why you wrote everything you did - I just found it fascinating.

Unknown said...

I decided to post my goodreads review in case anyone was interested for a different perspective:

Basically scientifically backed studies on child development that go against everything you thought you knew was best, well not all of it was new -- but it was all still good.

FYI - this book was not written by child psychology experts, but by two journalists in the child psychology field whose "niche" is to report on studies that have gone unheeded.

There are ten chapters, each reading like its own essay:

1. The Inverse Power of Praise
2. The Lost Hour
3. Why White Parents Don't Talk About Race
4. Why Kids Lie
5. The Search for Intelligent Life in Kindergarten
6. The Sibling Effect
7. The Science of Teen Rebellion
8. Can Self-Control Be Taught
9. Plays Well with Others
10. Why Hannah Talks and Alyssa Doesn't

There was ALOT I loved about this book. One of my favorites was the chapter on race. Basically the conclusion is that while non-white parents talk about race in their homes most white parents don't. They just assume if you don't say anything, that kids will know that everyone is created equal; in fact they aren't pointing out differences so saying nothing is better than accentuating it. Right? The problem is if you don't help young kids (think 3-6) think through this they'll make their own conclusions about why people have different color skin, which could lead to some problems.

So after I read that chapter I sat down and decided to test it. I asked Ellie what color skin she has and what color other people have and why. She says, "There is white and brown and black. Other people have brown skin because they like it the most." So I asked her does that mean she likes white the most? "Yes."

Hmmm. Yikes. I guess it doesn't hurt to explain to little kids that some people are from different lands/countries where EVERYONE is that color. And in this country usually you have the color of skin of where your grandparents came from. It's like family.

There were also weak parts (last chapter about language development) but overall I'm going to use it for my next bookclub I host.

Sweet Em said...


The above is a link to a story about research about kids attitude on race. Similar to Kristine's perceptions.


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