Friday, September 27, 2013

Book Review: NurtureShock

NurtureShock covers groundbreaking scientific research in the field of parenting. It has a lot of hype, it's sort of the new thing out there.  But how to decide if it's worth the time.  Well, from my perspective, it definitely is.

Chapters include the inverse power of praise, race relations, sleep (or lack there of), self-control and lying.  They are all well-researched, with specific scientific information to back them up.  Which is fabulous.  The chapters have nothing to do with each other, which makes for a disjointed book, but it's perfect for reading a chapter at a time in between other household/children tasks. 

There's been a lot going on about praise, how we have a society where we praise everything from mediocre performance to a toddler eating an apple.  I see this all the time, with parents saying 'good job' practically every moment.  This book really talks about what happens in the long term.  It shows how different types of praise are really affecting our kids in different ways. The statistical data, the specifics are quite something.  Of course, this is a bit 'what comes around goes around,' but good information none-the-less.

Then they talk about race relations, which has also been a hot topic right now.  I've found this one particularly intriguing, especially since we are in an interesting situation as Ashkenazic Jews.  We are generally white people, and if you choose (as we do) to send your child to a religious daycare or school program, do they have any diversity in their classes at all?  (turns out, we have one adorable Jewish black child in our daycare program in EG's age group, but that's totally an anomaly!)  How we talk (or in most cases don't) talk about race is affecting our children.  We all know we are waiting on bated breath for that awkward moment in the supermarket (why does she look like that Mom?!).  This chapter teaches us that we need to embrace the question and discuss a real answer.

I thought the sibling chapter was interesting, if  bit confusing.  It talked a lot about sibling fights and why a child treats their friends much better than siblings.  Conventional wisdom says we learn how to treat people because of our siblings, but NurtureShock asserts that how we treat our friends is how we are going to treat our siblings. However, the chapter didn't really give anything to constructive, especially with those of us who are planning to have our next child. EG doesn't really have any 'best friends' and is really to young to have interactive play.  So, I'm not sure that theory helps us.  The only advice was to try not to step in the way of them working it out, because if they are going to learn to engage together, then they have to learn how to on their own.

My favorite, and possibly the most important for those of us with babies or toddlers, discussed language acquisition.  We don't have any Baby Einstein DVD's, and EG doesn't watch television (excepting that one time, on a crowded southwest airplane ride across the country).  NurtureShock specifically discusses these tapes, what they do, and what they don't do.  Which, according to the research, is absolutely nothing for your baby.

These are just a few of the chapters in the book.  Each chapter has statistical data backing it up, and presents a clear and logical wake-up call about some subject.  It's longitudinal studies, ongoing research and results that are scientifically driven.  

My only gripe with the book is that though it does give some specific suggestions and interventions about how to avoid these negatives, it does so throughout a chapter, without an easy to follow or implement guide.  When you are reading snippets during naps, or late at night after putting the baby to bed, it's so hard to remember the key ingredients to make changes.  Since the book jumps around age groups from teens to babies, it's also hard to put things into practice now.  Having a 'cheat sheet' of sorts for down the road would be a helpful addition.

Additionally all of this research is very subjective.  Take the chapter on the 'Tools' program.  The program isn't available everywhere, so if you don't have access to it, learning about it isn't particularly helpful. Given these caveats, I definitely recommend NurtureShock.  Read it, digest it, and choose what's worthy for you and yours.

*The link for the book is through my Amazon Affiliate account.  Purchasing the book or other items by following the link will provide me with revenue.*

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