Sunday, May 23, 2010
The K Book Club
I don't know if reading a parenting book will make someone a better parent, but it certainly can't hurt, right? Most things in life seem to improve in proportion to the amount of effort one puts into it, so why shouldn't parenting be the same?
These days I think there are a lot of parents (like me) who turn to the internet, or books and magazines, or TV shows (hello, Supernanny...) to help figure out what exactly to do on the home front with the little ones. Years of hearing about how faulty parenting can land your child on the psychiatrist's couch someday is enough motivation to make the job of parenting seem like a solemn undertaking that should be engaged with the utmost care.
So, naturally, when I heard about Nutureshock, I had to pick it up. The authors of Nutureshock, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, have painstakingly reviewed some of the latest literature and research on children and compiled it in this book. There were MANY eye-opening findings. Here's just a short list of some of the fascinating facts I found in this book:
1. Many parents these days--and I'm certainly guilty of this, too--believe that praising their child and telling them how "smart" they are will instill confidence in them and help them succeed later in life. Strangely, praise of this sort can have an inverse effect: kids get easily frustrated when they encounter difficulties and become risk-averse. Instead, experts recommend praising a child's effort (something they can improve upon) rather than their intelligence (something that is seen as static).
2. Lack of adequate sleep (even as little as one hour) is correlated with a significant decrease in cognitive ability and IQ. Also, they have found that a lot of the behavioral problems seen in children and teens is related to sleep deprivation. And, as most people know, lack of sleep is also a major contributor to childhood obesity.
3. Most kids experiment with lying pretty early. Most of the time, they are lying to cover up a transgression and to avoid getting in trouble. If they're successful with the lying, it becomes a tool that they use more and more as they get older to increase their power and control in difficult situations with peers and authority figures. They suggest using a tool like telling the story of George Washington and the Cherry Tree to encourage honesty in kids, as well as modeling truthfulness.
4. Teens who argue with their parents a lot actually have healthier relationships with their parents than teens who keep their grievances to themselves. I guess the argument goes that the ones who argue think they have a chance of having their parents negotiate with them and meet them halfway, whereas the silent ones accept that their parents are going to be more dictatorial. The silent teens tend to lie, rebel, and consider themselves less close to their parents than the ones who argue.
5. Progressive (as opposed to Traditional and Disengaged) parenting has been linked with increased aggression in kids. Apparently, the inconsistency and permissiveness is what leads to problems.
These are just a few things I found interesting and helpful, but there was so much more. If you have young children, I think you will really enjoy this book...so much to learn! Not sure how much it will help (something tells me my kids will still be lying on a psychiatrist's couch complaining about me...) but at least I can say I tried!