Book Notes~ *NurtureShock: New Thinking about Children*

I've had the lone copy of this book checked out of the Murphys library for 6 weeks, but this is one I'd like to own.  It is such a good read-- well researched and fascinating (if you're into learning about new research, parenting, education or psychology). It's 4 days overdue now, so I figured that I better jot down some notes on my favorite parts. (wish I had done this as I was reading-I'll have to read it again!):
  • The Inverse Power of Praise: Stop saying "Good Job!" or "Good helping!" etc.... I had already read about the work by Dweck, but this had more detailed information. Praise actually lowers self esteem (in children--not adults)--which is probably the opposite of the intended effect. Also, kids who were told "you must have worked hard" rather than "you must be smart" consistently chose to challenge themselves and take on tougher work. The kids who were told they were smart were too afraid to fail and chose the easy way. They also cheat more.  
  • The lost hour: Adolescents are much harder hit by sleep deprivation than adults. Teenagers who were given just one more hour of sleep (later start for school) had significantly lower rates of depression and other psychological issues, and they performed better academically. They're hard-wired to stay up late and sleep in. Duh. Why don't schools start later?
  • Why white parents don't talk about race: because they think that not talking about it will make their children 'color blind'. Not the case. Kids notice differences and tend to make the assumption that people who look like them also have "good" qualities like them--and those that don't aren't so nice. Solution? Openly talk to kids about race beginning at age 3. By high school--or even late elementary school they have already segregated themselves and formed prejudices that are harder to break.
  • Why kids lie (elementary school): --to avoid punishment, and later to get attention, spare feelings or manipulate social situations. Most parents think their kids don't lie. Not the case--in some studies 96% of kids lie...and they don't grow out of it, they get better at it. Solution? Not punishment (doesn't work for anything except in the short term)--but helping them to develop understanding of how their lies affect other people.
  • The Search for Intelligent Life in Kindergarten: This chapter reveals research that refutes the practice of early IQ tests used to place students in gifted programs for the next 12 years. Insane! Who would do that? Most of the country. Even if IQ is more stable at 3rd grade than in kindergarten I don't think there should be better programs for the 'gifted'. How unfair! How ridiculous! Everyone should get the 'good' stuff.
  • The Sibling Effect:  Siblings aren't fighting about parental affection--they're most often fighting about sharing physical possessions. Having a sibling doesn't necessarily influence one's social skills for the better--it could make them worse. How to help siblings to get along? --teach them to be friends-- how to choose activities they can do together, how to invite each other to play or recognize when someone wants to be alone. 
  • The Science of Teen Rebellion: All teenagers lie-- some more than others. Why? Usually to avoid disappointing their parents. How to minimize lying?--consistently enforce rules, respect a teen's need for autonomy, be warm, loving and talk to your kids. And....it's a good sign if teens are arguing with their parents--it's a sign of respect. Arguing=honesty. Kids that argued more lied less. This was my favorite chapter--lots of good stuff.
  • Can Self-Control be Taught? : Tools of the Mind is a preschool and kindergarten program that is hugely successful--in fact it is the most successful education program out there. Most programs don't (with statistical significance) reach goals with all students because human behavior is too hard to change. Tools of the Mind sounds incredible! All schools should use it. It teaches through play and builds a culture of meta-cognition and critique in 3-5 year olds! wow.
  •  Plays well with others: Educational television increases relational aggression in young children. Preschoolers can't pull lessons out of a 30 minute show. Instead, they see relationally aggressive behavior modeled on a show like Spongebob and they copy that behavior in real life...even if the final lesson in the show was that the behavior is wrong. Also-- it's okay to argue in front of your kids as long as they see you resolve it. 
and finally----
  • Why Hannah talks and Alyssa doesn't: This chapter talked all about research on the development of language. It was super interesting but I'm running out of free-time here. Bodhi needs some attention! Basically....talk to infants like you're carrying on a conversation (let them respond). Name everything for them at the right time (when they're looking at an object). More than one person naming it helps more. Move the object as you name it if they're under 15 months. 
I love learning about how the brain works.


  1. Awesome book report. I give it an A+.

    I'm glad there weren't any kids for Finn to pound on after I let him watch Sponge Bob:)

  2. hi! just landed here via salt, teak and fog... loving your blog.
    and this post is rad! i've had this book on my to-read list for a while now... super excited to get going on it.

  3. Hi Sara-- so funny-- i actually follow your blog too and love it! I first found it when you did a post on the book *unconditional parenting*. Thanks for commenting :)


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