Friday, March 4, 2011

Nurture Shock

I’m not a big fan of most parenting books. Not the “how-to-fix-your-kid-in-10-easy-steps” kind, anyway. Each family situation is so unique to the people and personalities within it that a book can hardly begin to touch the dynamics at play. What often happens, after reading these kinds of books, is that parents are left holding a methodology that doesn’t quite fit their situation and doesn’t quite work (if at all) and they end up feeling like bad or incompetent parents as a result.

There are a few exceptions. Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn is one I quite like but that might be because it is in alignment with my personal values about how to be with children. Another book I really like is Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen.

But there is one book that I think all parents should read. Yes, I said “should”.

It’s Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. It’s brilliant.

It’s not a how-to-parent book. It’s a book, however, that will challenge our societal assumptions about children and will help build our understanding about why kids do what they do. It might even change our minds.

The authors have taken topics that concern all parents at some point and got to the research (good research) to find out what’s really going on. And what’s really going on may surprise you. It did me.

Chapters include:

  • The Inverse Power of Praise
  • The Lost Hour (on the developmental importance of sleep)
  • Why White Parents Don’t Talk about Race (very interesting research about racism)
  • Why Kids Lie
  • The Search for Intelligent Life in Kindergarten (why we need to wait before determining “giftedness”)
  • The Sibling Effect (why siblings really fight)
  • The Science of Teen Rebellion (apparently, arguing is a sign of respect – who knew?)
  • Can Self-Control be Taught?
  • Plays Well With Others
  • Why Hannah Talks and Alyssa Doesn’t (the scoop on “jump-starting” language skills)

The book is well written and very engaging. 5 stars, two-thumbs-up, definitely a “must read” for reflective parents (or anyone who works with or interacts with children and families).