I kept hearing about Nurture Shock until I finally bought it one day at the bookstore. After reading the first chapter, I knew I had to review it for you.
NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children will
If you’ve read this blog for a while you know that I like to keep up on the research of feeding and nutrition. This is not because research gives me black and white answers (I wish), but it gives important clues. And as I mention in this article, what seems like the logical thing to do with feeding our kids can have negative consequences. But what about other aspects of parenting? Is the same true?
Nurture Shock reveals new research that not only challenges modern-day parenting practices but question old practices as well. It’ll make you think and second guess some of the decisions you make. Let me show you what I mean:
Praise, praise, praise
How many times do you tell your child “good job” or “you are so smart?” According to the book, 85% of parents do this — all the time! The authors demonstrate with research and stories, how labeling kids as “smart” actually cause them to under-perform and lack confidence as they grow up. (Good thing I was never labeled as “smart.”)
Not making a big deal out of lying
To be honest, I haven’t thought about lying much. Big A, who is 4, will lie to get out of sticky situations, usually involving her little brother. I feel like this is typical and she will grow out of it but this book tells a different story. I was amazed at their stats — 96% of kids lie.
The authors argue that the better — and sooner — a young child can tell the difference between a “lie” and the “truth” the less likely he or she will grow up lying. And simply punishing kids is not the answer because it does not teach them the difference.
Teaching your young child to talk by talking
My son has been much slower to talk than my daughter was. I had always heard that talking to a child was key to getting them to talk. I took this up a notch with my son by using books and overwhelming my poor child.
What I learned in this book is similar to what I have learned in my son’s speech therapy. While talking around a child does help, there are other strategies that help even more. Following their interests with words, responding quickly to every sound that comes out of their mouths and repeating single words over and over. The book offers up intriguing research and tips that I wish I had read earlier.
Keeping kids busy to keep them out of trouble
Many older kids are over-scheduled and busy. They go from one activity to the next with parents or caregivers driving them everywhere. There is the notion that these busy schedules help keep kids out of trouble. While this may be partially true, there may be a downside to all of this activity.
According to the authors, too much time with peers may increase aggression in adolescence:
The average teen spends sixty hours per week surrounded by peer groups (and only sixteen hours a week surrounded by adults). This has created the perfect atmosphere for a different strain of aggression-virus to breed — one fed not by peer rejections but fed by the need for peer status and social ranking. The more time peers spend together, the stronger this compulsion to rank high, resulting in the hostility of one-upmanship.”
Discounting the importance of sleep
The authors point out how kids today get about an hour less sleep than they did 30 years ago. Yet according to one survey in the book, 90% of parents think their kids are getting enough sleep. The authors point to how this lack of sleep negatively affects behavior, intelligence (IQ), memory and weight. Part of the problem: most schools start way too early.
The book also details innovative ways to help preschoolers and kindergartners learn more effectively, the truth about sibling rivalry, why it’s wrong to choose gifted kids too early, how we promote racism by not talking about it, surprising reasons for teen rebellion and many other thought-provoking topics.
This is a great read for parents and not because I believe it is all fact, but because it will cause you to take a closer look at your own parenting. And that is always a good thing.
Anyone else read the book?