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New Thinking about Children, and about Raising Them (Or, Instinct Matters in Parenting --- but There's a Bit More to It)

By Rich Fisher


Tulsa, Oklahoma – On this edition of StudioTulsa, we hear from the bestselling author Po Bronson, perhaps best known for his 2002 book, "What Should I Do with My Life?" Bronson has recently co-written a new work: "NurtureShock: New Thinking about Children." Originating (at least in part) with a New York Magazine article entitled "The Inverse Power of Praise" --- which basically argued that celebrating every little thing your kid does can actually harm the child --- this book offers one surprising insight after another in regard to children and/or parenting. "NurtureShock" draws upon cutting-edge scholarship and research across a range of academic disciplines to reveal some counter-intuitive --- or even stunning --- truths concerning how we live, learn, and develop from childhood onward. As one critic, in Publishers Weekly, has noted of this book: "The central premise...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 [to be found in this book] belie the thorough research backing up numerous cited case studies, experts' findings, and examination of successful progressive programs at work in schools."