Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts while taking June for walks. Why am I just now delving into the podcast world?? I’ve totally been missing out! Most recently, I was listening to a self-improvement series on the Freakonomics podcast and one segment talked about how the best to-do lists have larger goals that you are striving towards with more achievable tasks to get to these larger goals (I’m reeeally paraphrasing here). It seemed like a good idea, and I love me a good to-do list, so I made one of my own. I won’t go into the full shebang, but one of my larger goals is to be the best mom I can be (ugh, so corny but I do love my munchkin). One of my achievable tasks to try and attain this goal is to read up on the current parenting lit out there – not a difficult task for a bookworm like myself. So, as my first foray into this topic I chose the book NurtureShock by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman because it didn’t seem solely focused on older children (I’ll save those for later) and has received really good reviews.
Now, I will admit that I paid closer attention to some chapters versus others, but overall I really enjoyed the book. It’s heavily rooted in scientific studies that are explained clearly and easily (and in my mind, seemingly without bias). I’ll definitely integrate many of the lessons imparted into my parenting. I found the chapter about baby speech particularly interesting (which is obvious since June is just 8 months). Points to takeaway from this chapter:
- Anytime a baby looks at something (regardless if it sounds like they’re saying something else), label the item they’re looking at for the baby.
- When a baby babbles respond with a touch or a word.
- “Motionese”: take an item and shake or dance it in front of the baby while saying what it is (helps them maintain focus on the item).
- A baby needs to hear more than 1 person say a word to learn it.
They go into more detail about each of these things in the chapter along with supportive studies but for those who need a Sparknotes version – there ya go. Other interesting tidbits from various parts of the book:
- Praising your child for being smart can cause under-performance (say what?!). It’s better to praise hard work or effort. I found this chapter to be very interesting, especially as a person who was often praised as being smart growing up. The studies on this particular topic also align with the studies regarding extrinsic and intrinsic motivation in other literature. The parallel seems to be if you feel you have control over an outcome (say, studying to get a good grade) you will perform better than those who feel the control is external (i.e. intrinsic talent or smarts).
- Sleep is more important to children (including teenagers) than adults. Losing even 1 hour of sleep can equal losing about two years of cognitive performance (a tired 6th grader will perform like a 4th grader)!
- White parents should talk to their kids about race (the earlier the better). It’s not enough for kids to be exposed to various races and multi-cultural programming. Also, white parents must be more specific than “we are all equal.” The studies cited about this are suuuper interesting – kids notice race as early as 6 months old! Minority parents should also discuss race with their children (although most already do) but don’t bring up racism too frequently as it can discourage minority children.
Obviously I’m doing some extreme summarizing here and it’s better to read the book or chapter of interest in full. Get thee to the library stat! Even if you’re not a parent, you’re bound to interact with kids and reading this book can help you improve interactions so that future generations benefit. Overall, I’d give this book 4.5/5 stars – great read!