Child rearing isn’t something you learn in school. It’s supposed to be intuitive. We seem to have a pretty good grasp on what helps kids and what harms them.

Or do we?

Once more, assumptions turn out to be the parent of all f*ck-ups. This time, quite literally, as discovered by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman, the writers of NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children. That’s why instead of blindly trusting their intuition about parenting, they turned to research, investigating the results of conventional wisdom and possible alternatives.

In 10 chapters, they explore 10 different ideas about children. When is praise great and when is it destructive? Is lying a sign of a damaged parent-child relationship and what can parents do about it? Do children learn better social skills if they have a brother or a sister? What about gifted children, what does it mean if they’re tested at an early age?

The good & the bad of NurtureShock

The result is a book that’s both surprising and easy to read – aimed at an audience of parents, not scientists. Whether you have a toddler or a rebelling teen – you’ll encounter ideas that might change the way you approach your child forever.

But, you’ll have to work for it first. While the writers dispel common myths on what’s supposedly good, but often don’t offer a solid alternative. This book is research made accessible, not a practical guide (although you will find a few tips, especially when Bronson describes how he applies his new knowledge to his own children). You’ll have to draw your own conclusions.

And although this is a book about science, it’s not necessarily a scientific book. A few times the authors come up with their own explanations for findings and we’ll leave it to you to decide whether those explanations are plausible – they aren’t always backed up by evidence.

Last but not least, USA readers will probably enjoy this book more than readers from other parts of the world: some of the problems are rather typical for the States. For one – most other countries haven’t gotten to the point where they torture children with school that starts at 7 AM (Chapter 2: The Lost Hour) or test whether toddlers are gifted (Chapter 5: The Search for Intelligent Life in Kindergarten).

But wherever you are in the world – don’t let that stop you. If you work with children and enjoy easy-to-digest yet insightful writing you’re still in for a treat.

Review overview

Rating: 4/5


+ Easy read
+ Based on scientific research
+ Refreshing


– Few practical tips
– Authors’ assumptions aren’t backed by science
– Very USA-oriented

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