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Nurtureshock: New Thinking about Children

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caroljmadsen, January 14, 2011 (view all comments by caroljmadsen)
This book is incredible - definitely my favorite read of 2010! I usually stick to historical fiction, but this book had just enough anecdotal content plus the research to back it up, that it honestly hit the spot for me. As an elementary school teacher, it was eye-opening to say the least, and as a new mom (as of November 10th, 2010), I found it extremely valuable! I would recommend this book to all parents, grandparents, caretakers, teachers and anyone else who would take the time to not only read it, but commit to the practical application of the some of the concepts discussed.
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frussher, January 6, 2010 (view all comments by frussher)
Fantastic book. Well written and extremely well researched. Makes you realize that much of what we think we know about children just doesn't hold up when fully examined. Very thought provoking. Should be on the bookshelf of every parent.
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(3 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)
lindsey beadle, October 17, 2009 (view all comments by lindsey beadle)
Really, one of the best nonfiction books I have read in a long time. I could barely put it down. Then I made the mistake of loaning it out when I hadn't finished the last chapter and my friend kept it awhile. Then my husband nabbed it the day I got it back. It is a good book! Very well written - easy and enjoyable to read. The subject matter is a nice wake up call to commonly held beliefs about kids. As a new mom I'm sure I will be referencing this book in the near future. If you have any interest in kids at all I'm pretty sure you'll find this book interesting and entertaining!
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(4 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
Jonathan, October 11, 2009 (view all comments by Jonathan)
A truly surprising book about parenting, based on decades of scientific research rather than "instinct," which is shown again and again to be wrong. I haven't stopped talking about this book since I started reading it, and I strongly recommend it to anyone who has kids or works with kids.
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(4 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)
Book Dads, September 20, 2009 (view all comments by Book Dads)
What makes children act more aggressively – watching educational media like Arthur or violent media like Power Rangers? Is childhood obesity more correlated with playing video games or with getting less sleep? Does putting students in multiracial environments really make them less racially biased? Is it more effective to punish children for telling a lie or to reward them for telling the truth? These questions and others are addressed in NurtureShock, which presents the scientific research surrounding a number of issues about parenting our children and challenges us to look at them in a new way.

Bronson & Merryman are veteran science reporters, and it shows. The science here is fully and accurately portrayed, and they demonstrate that just as much can be learned from “failed” experiments as from those that yield an expected result. They also don’t hesitate to discuss areas in which findings are inconclusive or still heavily debated. Above all, they give priority to the actual experimental findings and then look at possible explanations, rather than simply advancing their own pet theories about parenting and children. As a result, this is a book that is long on demonstrable fact and short on preaching.

In addition to presenting the studies and their results in an easily comprehensible and accessible manner, Bronson & Merryman also put a human face on the scientists themselves. They present personal portrayals of many of the scientists involved in this research, and we journey with these researchers through their thought processes as they design experiments and then work to understand the results.

Almost all of the findings presented in NurtureShock are counter-intuitive, and Bronson and Merryman address this problem directly. They discuss not only why some of these findings seem to fly in the face of what we think we understand about children, but also relate their own challenges in trying to put these concepts into practice. One of the recurrent themes in NurtureShock is that by doing what we think is best for our children, we are often achieving the exact opposite result. For example, in the chapter on Why White Parents Don’t Talk About Race, Bronson & Ashley look at the practices of not making racial distinctions when talking to young children, and of placing them into multiracially diverse environments. Both practices are intended to reduce interracial bias in children and promote interracial friendship, but paradoxically have no effect or even a negative effect. It turns out that the period of young children’s lives when we assume children are not aware of race and therefore are not talking with them about it is the exact developmental period when they are noticing race and forming their first ideas about it. Similarly, simply being in a multiracial environment is not enough for children to draw their own conclusions about racial equality; improved attitudes about race only emerge when children are engaged directly in explicit teachings about racial issues.

NurtureShock surveys a wide and diverse range of topics in its ten chapters, from teaching babies how to talk, to the nature of teen rebellion. In examining issues like these, Bronson & Ashley uncover two common assumptions that hinder our understanding of child development. The first is that things work the same way for children as they do for adults, and the second is that good traits necessarily ward off and oppose negative behaviors in children. In examining these assumptions through numerous examples, NurtureShock will also challenge your own preconceived notions about parenting and children. This is a useful and eye-opening book, and one that illustrates how science and research can help us to better understand our children and our world. And if you change your approach to parenting based on even one of the ideas in this book, NurtureShock will help make you a better parent too.
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 1-5 of 5

Product Details

How to Build Your Child's Brain
Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
Denworth, Lydia
Suskind, Beth
Bronson, Po
Suskind, Dana
Merryman, Ashley
Dutton Adult
Child rearing
Child Development
Developmental - Child
Children's Studies
Psychology-Child Psychology
Child rearing; Child development; Parents; Education; Race relations; Social integration; Psychology; Sociology
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 12
Three charts and diagrams
9 x 6 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Staff Favorites
Health and Self-Help » Child Care and Parenting » General
Health and Self-Help » Child Psychology » General
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » Child Psychology
History and Social Science » Sociology » Children and Family

Nurtureshock: New Thinking about Children Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$10.50 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Twelve - English 9780446504126 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Though rarely would I refer to a parenting book as a "page turner," NurtureShock is just that fascinating. Bronson and Merryman call on neuroscience to show how conventional parenting wisdom often doesn't jive with the biological reality of a child's brain. If you want to learn the science behind how to best praise your child, or understand why teenage rebellion is a good thing, read this book.

"Staff Pick" by ,

Extraordinarily well-researched, Nurtureshock will change the way you parent or teach! I'm not either of those things, but it definitely changed the way I think about kids. Fascinating, gripping, and really a must-have for everyone who deals with kids.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The central premise of this book by Bronson (What Should I Do with My Life?) and Merryman, a Washington Post journalist, is that many of modern society's most popular strategies for raising children are in fact backfiring because key points in the science of child development and behavior have been overlooked. Two errant assumptions are responsible for current distorted child-rearing habits, dysfunctional school programs and wrongheaded social policies: first, things work in children the same way they work in adults and, second, positive traits necessarily oppose and ward off negative behavior. These myths, and others, are addressed in 10 provocative chapters that cover such issues as the inverse power of praise (effort counts more than results); why insufficient sleep adversely affects kids' capacity to learn; why white parents don't talk about race; why kids lie; that evaluation methods for 'giftedness' and accompanying programs don't work; why siblings really fight (to get closer). Grownups who trust in 'old-fashioned' common-sense child-rearing — the definitely un-PC variety, with no negotiation or parent-child equality — will have less patience for this book than those who fear they lack innate parenting instincts. The chatty reportage and plentiful anecdotes belie the thorough research backing up numerous cited case studies, experts' findings and examination of successful progressive programs at work in schools. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Together, Bronson and Merryman have written about parenting and social science in online columns for Time and Newsweek and in articles for New York magazine. Three chapters in NurtureShock are adapted from their New York articles....Bronson and Merryman explain in the introduction that they are using the term nurture shock to refer to 'the panic — common among new parents — that the mythical fountain of knowledge is not magically kicking in.' And they warn that the information in the book will deliver a shock, by revealing that 'our bedrock assumptions about kids can no longer be counted on.'" (Read the entire American Scientist review)
"Review" by , "A provocative collection of essays popularizing recent research that challenges conventional wisdom about raising children.... A skilled, accessible presentation of scientific research in layman's language."
"Review" by , "NurtureShock is one of the most important books you will read this year. Bronson and Merryman move parenting out of the realm of folklore and into the realm of science — and reveal what decades of studies teach us about the complexities of raising, happy, healthy, self-motivated kids. As a writer, I was impressed by the prodigious research and keen analysis. As a father, I was consumed with taking notes and exhilarated by all I learned."
"Synopsis" by , Award-winning science journalists Bronson and Merryman argue that when it comes to children, parents have mistaken good intentions for good ideas. The authors demonstrate that many of modern society's strategies for nurturing children are in fact backfiring.
"Synopsis" by , This groundbreaking collaboration between award-winning science journalists Bronson and Merryman demonstrates that many of modern society's strategies for nurturing children are, in fact, backfiring because key twists in the science have been overlooked.
"Synopsis" by ,
The founder and director of the Thirty Million Words Initiative, Professor Dana Suskind, explains why the most importantand#151;and astoundingly simpleand#151;thing you can do for your childand#8217;s future success in life is to talk to him or her, reveals the recent science behind this truth, and outlines precisely how parents can best put it into practice.


The research is in: Academic achievement begins on the first day of life with the first word said by a cooing mother just after delivery.

A study by researchers Betty Hart and Todd Risley in 1995 found that some children heard thirty million fewer words by their fourth birthdays than others. The children who heard more words were better prepared when they entered school. These same kids, when followed into third grade, had bigger vocabularies, were stronger readers, and got higher test scores. This disparity in learning is referred to as the achievement gap.

Professor Dana Suskind, MD, learned of this thirty million word gap in the course of her work as a cochlear implant surgeon at University of Chicago Medical School and began a new research program along with her sister-in-law, Beth Suskind, to find the best ways to bridge that gap.and#160;The Thirty Million Word Initiative has developed programs for parents to show the kind of parent-child communication that enables optimal neural development and has tested the programs in and around Chicago across demographic groups.and#160;They boil down to getting parents to follow the three Ts: Tune in to what your child is doing; Talk more to your child using lots of descriptive words; and Take turns with your child as you engage in conversation.and#160;Parents are shown how to make the words they serve up more enriching. For example, instead of telling a child, and#147;Put your shoes on,and#8221; one might say instead, and#147;It is time to go out. What do we have to do?and#8221; The lab's new five-year longitudinal research program has just received funding so they can further corroborate their results.and#160;

The neuroscience of brain plasticity is some of the most valuable and revolutionary medical science being done today. It enables us to think and do better.and#160;It is making a difference in the lives of both the old and young.and#160; If you care for children, this landmark book is essential reading.

"Synopsis" by , One of the most influential books about children ever published, NurtureShock offers a revolutionary new perspective on children that upends a library's worth of conventional wisdom. With impeccable storytelling and razor-sharp analysis, the authors demonstrate that many of modern society's strategies for nurturing children are in fact backfiring--because key twists in the science have been overlooked. Nothing like a parenting manual, NurtureShock gets to the core of how we grow, learn and live.

Released in hardcover in September 2009, NurtureShock remained on the New York Times best seller list for three months, and was one of Amazon's best selling books for 2009. The book has become a worldwide phenomenon with editions published around the world - in fifteen languages, to date.

In addition to Bronson and Merryman's writings on praise — first made famous in New York magazine — there are nine more equally groundbreaking chapters. Among the topics covered:

Why the most brutal person in a child's life is often a sibling, and how a single aspect of their preschool-aged play can determine their relationship as adults.

When is it too soon - or too late - to teach a child about race? Children in diverse schools are less likely to have a cross-racial friendship, not more - so is school diversity backfiring?

Millions of families are fighting to get their kids into private schools and advanced programs as early as possible. But schools are missing the best kids, 73% of the time - the new neuroscience explains why.

Why are kids - even those from the best of homes - still aggressive and cruel? The answer is found in a rethinking of parental conflict, discipline, television's unexpected influence, and social dominance.

Parents are desperate to jump-start infants' language skills. Recently, scientists have discovered a series of natural techniques that are astonishing in their efficacy - it's not baby videos, sign language, or even the richness of language exposure. It's nothing you've heard before.

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