Nurture Shock

The authors seemed to spend a lot of time “debunking” certain long-held ideas about childhood development: lots of praise, testing for giftedness at a preschool/kindy age, arguing in teens, lying in teens, etc.

Some of it I kind of knew, some of it was presented in a way that convinced me of the authors’ viewpoints. The most salient arguments for me, personally, were the discussions of a) preschool/kindergarten curriculums that emphasize extended, fantasy play (like a group of kids playing “firemen”).

Another argument was the use of praise. As a parent, I fall into the indiscriminate use of supportive praise category far too often, and I know it makes my oldest girl (8 yrs) uncomfortable. As the book stated, kids know when they don’t deserve the level of effusive praise we give. (I did not agree with the book’s take on the difference between Chinese parents and Caucasian parents in the cited study, however).

Finally, the most interesting discussion, and the reason I think this book is extremely good reading for any parent with young children, is the accessible and nueroscientifical exploration of how and why intelligence develops in young brains.

Basically, the authors’ point that single instances of testing for intelligence or giftedness before about 2/3rd grade is meaningless and possibly harmful for both children designated “gifted” or “not gifted” really convinced me. As children’s brains develop certain ways of thinking/competencies at different rates (and can catch up or surpass eachother at different times), testing for giftedness that early and shunting kids into different tracks based on those results can fail to correctly identify gifted children.

The part about teens arguing as a result of their engagement with adult’s authority rather than a questioning of that authority also struck a chord with me (the kids who didn’t argue with their parents were doing all the unwise things behind their parents backs, while the kids who were arguing were more engaged withe negotiating the authority).

Something to remember for the future 🙂