Monday, November 9, 2009

NurtureShock by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman

Could praising your child, and telling him he's smart, actually hurt his self-esteem in a challenging situation instead of giving him confidence? According to the new book NurtureShock, the answer is yes, if you offer the wrong kind of praise. In their new book, Bronson and Merryman have composed a collection of mind-opening and thought-provoking ideas regarding child rearing, and presented psychological studies behind the new discoveries, that are sure to grab your attention.

The authors present evidence to support the idea that over-praised kids could actually turn out to struggle with self-image when faced with difficult problems, and are more likely to consider cheating their way to maintain their 'smart' label. Another interesting study regarding praise showed how mothers in Illinois interacted with their kids after a failure and how they starkly contrasted with the way mothers in Hong Kong dealt with the same situation. The remarkable difference in the two sets of kids' performance after the interaction with their mothers was striking. The book offers advice on how and what to praise if you want a positive impact on your child.

The book provides research evidence on many other topics such as: how a difference of only one hour less sleep in a teenager can increase cases of depression, car accidents, obesity, and negatively impact their SAT scores. Other eye-opening ideas explored by the authors included: sibling rivalry, teaching kids about color and race, self-control, and how to play with others. All topics and research studies were very intriguing and make the reader think twice about inadvertently affecting children in a negative way without knowing it.

The authors show research suggesting that testing for 'gifted' programs in kindergarten selects the wrong kids in 73% of the cases. Intelligence tests have always sparked controversy, especially when it comes to testing children. According to research, testing kids at such an early age in order to grant them admission to elite schools, or into limited enrollment 'gifted and talented' programs, seems to be based on unreliable testing. The authors show that IQ testing in third grade or middle school produces a more accurate prediction regarding success in high school or beyond. It was a very interesting chapter and reflection on our current school programs and processes.

Another chapter dealt with research regarding babies and very young children who were exposed to 'educational' videos and TV shows in hopes of increasing their intelligence. The parental motivation to do so seemed harmless enough. The videos, backed by educational experts, claimed to enhance the child's experience, and therefore intellectual development, by including music, international languages, and colorful images. However, as indicated by the research conducted, reality seemed to contradict the claims of increase in language development, and in fact showed evidence of delaying development instead! The ideas behind this finding are fascinating, and full of surprising factual data.

One of the most compelling headlines in the book claimed that a teenager who argues with his parents is actually showing a sign of respect. Any parent of a teenager will surely want to read the studies behind this assertion! The topics challenge the obvious and traditional way of thinking. Parents generally try to do their best to navigate child rearing with what they know at the time. This book presents startling evidence to challenge many standard beliefs in our society. The topics presented and the supporting research studies are difficult to ignore, making this bestseller a very worthwhile read.


  1. Wow Hena. A nice collection of books. I have to catch up. We just read The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. Very interesting.

  2. To think that I thought arguing was a sign of disrespect!!


What did you think of my article? Please leave a comment and tell me!