[BOOK REVIEW] NurtureShock: Challenging Your Perspective on Child Development


New and expecting parents thrive on parenting books, but once the child turns one year old most parents feel that their instincts have taken over. Unless dealing with a specific issue (potty training, biting, identifying a mysterious rash), we rarely have time, so the books get put away. But what if our instincts are wrong?

NurtureShock, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, poses that very question. This eye-opening new book is unlike any parenting book I have ever read, and I consider it a must read for parents. It offers a new perspective on children and will make you rethink how you interact with yours.

Filled with an extensive collection of research findings, this book covers several topics and presents studies on kids, from infants to teenagers. A few of the topics include the negative effects of praising your child’s intelligence, the reason it’s actually good that your teen argues with you, why an infant’s language skills do not improve by watching baby videos, and why encouraging honesty may be making your kids better liars.

As I encouraged friends and family to read this book almost all of them asked what the book is about. The short answer is that it is about the way children think. The long answer is much more complex.

NurtureShock presents several compelling research findings that examine the psychological and neurological aspects of kids’ thinking to help explain developmental and behavioral patterns. Some of the information presented seems so obvious in hind sight… of course a child’s mind works differently than an adult’s. It is in a constant state of change, so testing a 5-year-old’s IQ for entrance into gifted programs or private schools does not accurately reflect their performance down the line. I was surprised to learn that studies indicate that educational television shows make kids more aggressive and that sleep deprivation may decrease IQ points and cause childhood obesity.

As the daughter of a statistics teacher, I am always wary of research findings and tend to take them with a grain of salt. How was the data collected? Can the results from a small sample really be generalized to the public? It seems like there are always shocking research findings and they are always making grand claims but frequently contradicting each other. However, with 80 pages of notes and references, Bronson and Merryman present a comprehensive collection of findings by highly credible sources without attempting to extrapolate them or telling the reader how to parent.

With the sometimes overwhelming amount of information, this book is not a quick read. However, it is extremely interesting and definitely worth the time. I highly recommend NurtureShock, but be warned, this book will… dare I say it… shock you. the end

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