What I Learned From "Nuture Shock"

Upon Lucy's arrival, I decided to plunder the shelves of the local library for parenting books. In this and my next post, I'll highlight a couple that I read and share what I learned.

The first book is Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.  This book is like Freakonomics in that it attempts to use science to debunk some commonly-held notions and illuminate factors that have gone unnoticed.  Here are some claims I found noteworthy:
  • Praising a child for an innate trait ("you're so smart") is counterproductive because it teaches kids they are natural talents from whom much effort shouldn't be needed.  This can cause them to quit in the face of challenges.  Praising effort, on the other hand, encourages kids to give more effort when challenged.
  • All those efforts by politically-correct parents to teach their kids that all races are equal without talking about race, and instead merely placing them in diverse environments and hoping osmosis occurs, fail because kids obviously notice skin color, and will come to their own conclusions if race isn't discussed specifically (insted of just saying "everyone is equal").
  • IQ tests and other means of classifying kindergarteners and preschoolers don't work, because kids are too young for such testing before about 3rd grade.  However, many gifted programs test kids at these young ages - and never again -  so kids are locked in to or out of these programs right off the bat.
  • Today's educational TV shows teach kids new ways to be mean to each other.  The conflict resolution that takes place in the last minute of such shows has little effect on young viewers.
  • It's a good sign when teens argue with parents about the rules, because it means they respect the rules.  If they didn't, they'd just ignore them.  If they have a reasonable case to make about changing a rule, hear them out.
This book provides well-referenced information that can be put into daily parenting practice. It has something for parents of children of all ages. It is well worth reading.


  1. I agree wholeheartedly with all of these points. Research has also shown that those teens who feel comfortable questioning the rules, even though they know they can't change them, grow up to be leaders in society.

    I loved freaknomics (both of them) so I'm going to check this out. Hope I haven't messed A up too much already.

  2. I agree with the praise thing but it is harder than it seems. Craig has already been getting onto me for praising Lucy for "being strong" when she lifts her head up instead of saying something like "you're trying so hard!"

    Also, I distinctly remember a debate my mom and I had over Harry Potter back when I was a young teen. The first one had just come out and it was very controversial in the Christian community but I still wanted to read it. My mom was unsure but I gave my arguements and she said "Okay, I trust your judgement." That meant so much to me back then.