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12 and HoldingA Guide to Asperger SyndromeA Lethal InheritanceA Mother's Courage: Talking Back to AutismA Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning AutismA Special EducationA Toss Of The DiceA Tribe ApartA User Guide to the GF/CF Diet for Autism, Asperger Syndrome and AD/HDA Walk in the Rain With a BrainABC of Eating DisordersADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your LifeADHD Grown UpADHD in the Schools: Assessment and Intervention StrategiesADHD NationAdolescence and Body ImageAdolescent DepressionAggression and Antisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsAll Alone in the UniverseAlpha GirlsAmericaAnother PlanetAntisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsAsperger Syndrome and Your ChildAsperger Syndrome, Adolescence, and IdentityAsperger's and GirlsAssessment of Childhood DisordersAttention Deficit DisorderAttention-Deficit Hyperactivity DisorderAttention-Deficit/Hyperactivity DisorderAutism - The Eighth Colour of the RainbowAutism and MeAutism's False ProphetsAutistic Spectrum DisordersBad GirlBeen There, Done That? DO THIS!Before I DieBetween Two WorldsBeyond AppearanceBig Mouth & Ugly GirlBipolar ChildrenBipolar Disorder in Childhood and Early AdolescenceBipolar DisordersBipolar KidsBlackwell Handbook of Childhood Cognitive DevelopmentBody Image, Eating Disorders, and ObesityBody Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity in YouthBoy AloneBrain-Based Therapy with Children and AdolescentsBreaking PointBreathing UnderwaterBringing Up ParentsBullying and TeasingBullying PreventionBut I Love HimCan't Eat, Won't EatCaring for a Child with AutismCatalystChild and Adolescent PsychiatryChild and Adolescent Psychological DisordersChild and Adolescent PsychopathologyChild NeuropsychologyChild Well-BeingChildren and SexualityChildren Changed by TraumaChildren with Emerald EyesChildren with Sexual Behavior ProblemsChildren, Sexuality and SexualizationChildren’s Dreaming and the Development of Consciousness City of OneCommunication Issues In Autism And Asperger SyndromeConcepts of NormalityConcise Guide to Child and Adolescent PsychiatryConquering the Beast WithinConsuming KidsContesting ChildhoodCount Us InCrackedCrossesCutCyber-Safe Kids, Cyber-Savvy TeensDamageDemystifying the Autistic ExperienceDescartes' BabyDilemmas of DesireDirtyDisconnected KidsDoing SchoolDon't Bother Me Mom--I'm Learning!Don't Pick On MeDying to Be ThinEarly Intervention Programs and PoliciesEating an ArtichokeEducating Children With AutismEight Stories UpElijah's CupEmerald City BluesEmotional and Behavioral Problems of Young ChildrenEpilepticEthical Dilemmas in PediatricsEvery Girl Tells a StoryExiting NirvanaExploiting ChildhoodEye ContactFacing BipolarFamily HistoryFast GirlsForever YoungFreaks, Geeks and Asperger SyndromeFreewillFrictionGirl CultureGirl in the MirrorGirlfightingGirlhoodGirlWiseHandbook of Evidence-Based Therapies for Children and AdolescentsHandbook of Preschool Mental HealthHealing ADDHelping Children Cope With Disasters and TerrorismHelping Hyperactive KidsHelping Parents, Youth, and Teachers Understand Medications for Behavioral and Emotional ProblemsHelping Students Overcome Depression and AnxietyHelping Teens Who CutHollow KidsHope's BoyHow Infants Know MindsHow to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You Can'tHurry Down SunshineI Am Not Joey PigzaIdentifying Hyperactive ChildrenIf Your Adolescent Has an Eating DisorderIn the Company of CraziesIncorporating Social Goals in the ClassroomIntegrated YogaIntrusive ParentingIssues for Families, Schools and CommunitiesJake RileyJoey Pigza Loses ControlJoey Pigza Swallowed the KeyJuvenile-Onset SchizophreniaKim: Empty InsideLearning and Behavior Problems in Asperger SyndromeLearning Disorders and Disorders of the Self in Children and AdolescentsLearning Outside the Lines Let Kids Be KidsLiberation's ChildrenLife As We Know ItLisa, Bright and DarkLook Me in the EyeLoserLove and SexLove That DogMad at SchoolMaking ADD WorkMaking American BoysManicMastering Anger and AggressionMaverick MindMedicating ChildrenMind FieldsMind to MindMommy I'm Still in HereMore Than a LabelMy Flesh and BloodMyths of ChildhoodNew Hope for Children and Teens with Bipolar DisorderNew Look at ADHD: Inhibition, Time, and Self-ControlNo Child Left DifferentNo Two AlikeNon-Drug Treatments for ADHDNot Much Just Chillin'NurtureShockOdd Girl OutOdd Girl Speaks OutOne Hot SecondOne in ThirteenOphelia SpeaksOphelia's MomOur Journey Through High Functioning Autism and Asperger SyndromeOut of the WoodsOvercoming ADHDOvercoming School AnxietyParenting a Child Who Has Intense EmotionsParenting Children With ADHDParenting Your Out-Of-Control TeenagerPediatric PsychopharmacologyPediatric PsychopharmacologyPediatric PsychopharmacologyPeople with HyperactivityPhobic and Anxiety Disorders in Children and AdolescentsPINSPlease Don't Label My ChildPraising Boys WellPraising Girls WellProblem Child or Quirky Kid?Problem GirlsPsychotherapy for Children and AdolescentsPsychotherapy with Children and AdolescentsPurgeRaising a Moody ChildRaising BlazeRaising Generation RxRaising Resilient ChildrenReady or Not, Here Life ComesReclaiming Our ChildrenRedressing the EmperorReducing Adolescent RiskRemembering Our ChildhoodResilience in ChildrenRethinking ADHDReweaving the Autistic TapestryRitalin is Not the Answer Action GuideRitalin NationRunning on RitalinRunning with ScissorsRutter's Child and Adolescent PsychiatrySeeing EzraSex and the American TeenagerSex, Therapy, and KidsSexting and Young PeopleSexual Teens, Sexual MediaShort Term 12Should I Medicate My Child?SmashedSnapshots of AutismSongs Without WordsSophie Spikey Has a Very Big ProblemSpeakStaying Connected to Your TeenagerStick FigureStraight Talk about Psychiatric Medications for KidsStraight Talk about Psychological Testing for KidsStraight Talk about Your Child's Mental HealthStrange SonStudent DepressionSuicidal Behavior in Children and AdolescentsSurvival Strategies for Parenting Children with Bipolar DisorderSurviving OpheliaTaking Charge of ADHD, Revised EditionTaming the Troublesome ChildTemple GrandinThe American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook Of Child And Adolescent PsychiatryThe Anti-Romantic ChildThe Bipolar ChildThe Boy Who Loved WindowsThe Boy Who Was Raised as a DogThe Buffalo TreeThe Bully Action GuideThe Bully, the Bullied, and the BystanderThe Burn JournalsThe Color of AbsenceThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeThe Depressed ChildThe Developing MindThe Dragons of AutismThe Einstein SyndromeThe EpidemicThe Evolution of ChildhoodThe Explosive ChildThe Eyes of van GoghThe Fasting GirlThe Field of the DogsThe Flight of a DoveThe Hidden Gifts of the Introverted ChildThe Horse BoyThe Identity TrapThe Inner World of a Suicidal YouthThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Kindness of StrangersThe Last Normal ChildThe Little MonsterThe Medicated ChildThe Myth of LazinessThe New Gay TeenagerThe Nurture AssumptionThe OASIS Guide to Asperger SyndromeThe Other ParentThe Perversion of YouthThe Philosophy of AutismThe Psychoanalytic Study of the ChildThe Real Truth About Teens and SexThe Ride TogetherThe Rise and Fall of the American TeenagerThe Science of ADHDThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Survival Guide for Kids With LD*The Unhappy ChildThen Again, Maybe I Won'tTherapy with ChildrenThings I Have to Tell YouThings Tom LikesThrough the Glass WallThumbsuckerTotally WiredTouching Spirit BearTrauma in the Lives of ChildrenTreating ADHD and Comorbid DisordersTreatment of Childhood DisordersTwistedUnder the Wolf, Under the DogUnhappy TeenagersUnstrange MindsWastedWe've Got IssuesWeather Reports from the Autism FrontWhat about the KidsWhat in the World Are Your Kids Doing Online?What Works for Whom?What Would Joey Do?What's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhat's Happening to Tom?When Nothing Matters AnymoreWhen Your Child Has an Eating DisorderWhose America?Why Don't Students Like SchoolWill's ChoiceWinnicott On the ChildWorried All the TimeYou Hear MeYoung Minds in Social WorldsYoung People and Mental HealthYour Child, Bully or Victim?
Nurture Shock is a must read for all parents, soon-to-be parents, and anyone professionally engaged with developing children under their care. Addressing issues in a way which will jar with many views of both traditional and progressive parenting approaches, Bronson and Merryman present in this volume the results of recent findings of academic research in studies of child development, many with highly significant implications for child rearing practice(s). Easy to read, and presented in simple language, these otherwise complex issues will only be difficult for the average reader to digest if unwilling to have their assumptions challenged! Not only do the authors set out to challenge our thinking about the truths of child nurturing for optimal achievement, they share from their related chosen studies that the very assumptions underlying many of our cherished nurturing practices of old, are themselves worthy of question and empirical enquiry. Indeed, they report that many of the 'common sense' notions of how to bring up our children are fundamentally misguided, and the direct opposite of what we might otherwise ascribe for action is often what is instead needed, in order to nurture the more successful, happy, and achieving child.
However, Bronson and Merryman are not writing merely as critics of existing education systems, parent's intentions, nor the traditional dogmas of educational psychology. Instead, they seek to inform of the recent research that they cite with a view to rectifying (if not preventing) the continuation of exiting parenting practice and schooling, which have now been shown to be ineffective at producing the expected outcomes that they were designed to produce. The passion with which they do this is most effectively expressed in listening to the tone of voice as used by the first author in his reading of the text in the audiobook version being reviewed here. Presented as 7 high quality CDs, the narration is true to the written text (of the same title, published by Ebury Press, Random House, 2009), the volume is divided into 10 chapters, each covering a different issue of concern to parents with children of a variety of ages. Each issue is discussed in the context of published findings of empirical studies by some of the leading researchers in their respective fields, including educational and developmental psychologists and sociologists, together with valuable contributions from modern neuroscience in explaining brain organizational changes underlying core behavior change and development with increasing age. Such a synthesis is still rare in modern writing, and although at times incomplete and seemingly contradictory, boldly attempts to explain (rather than simply describe) why their 'new thinking' is both so radical, and necessary for future parents to consider.
For example, in the first chapter concerned with praise (let's only praise behavior when we can be sure that the child is aware of the significance of such praise for their future growth and action), we learn that underachievement can be the result of untargeted praise. Or worse still, by the development of a perception by the child as its signifying the lack of need (even fear) of attempting tasks of a greater level of difficulty. Likewise the results of IQ studies as discussed in the second chapter (in which we learn that not only are IQ scores of young children poor predictors of scholastic achievement following selection for gifted or accelerated learning programs in the USA), kids who are repeatedly told that they are 'smart' will often opt for less challenging tasks (given the choice), so as not to be in a position to prove otherwise – thus also preferring to underachieve rather than demonstrate failure !! However, the IQ score change expectation story is not to be entirely dismissed in my view, the authors failing to address an alternative explanation, which is to suggest that such results may be explained as a failure of the content (or the delivery method/monitoring) of the gifted programs they are entering. Indeed, in a later chapter (Ch8), the authors themselves discuss the great success of the recently developed Tools of the Mind curriculum as presented to pre-K and K1 children in the USA, including the development of significant IQ increases and other advanced behavioral measures, as have also been reported for babies and toddlers in China following their participation in Baby Impact programs.
Other chapters of note (at least for the current reviewer) include those concerned with lies and lying (Ch.4, why, how, and what to do about understanding it – teach honesty, don't just tell them that lying is wrong!), and teen rebellion (Ch.7, why arguing is a sign of respect ?). But perhaps one of the most welcome additions to this volume was the chosen inclusion of data from modern neuroscience research, and in particular the use of well designed neuropsychological fMRI studies, using tasks conducted with normative 'well-adjusted' children (rather than clinically-diagnosed children with abnormal behaviors). Again a few seeming anomalies are in need of further synthesis (for example, if gifted kids are showing more parietal than pre-frontal activity (Ch.5), why should we be concerned that the Nucleus Acumbens is downregulating the prefrontal cortical activity in teens (Ch.7) ? My own guess is that the role of the PFC in both cases is one of "GO/NO-GO" implementation of actions 'planned' further back in the cortex (e.g., parietal), or its inhibition of other 'more innate-reflexive' action plans as may be derived from areas of the limbic system. More of this kind of inter-disciplinary synthesis will only help our better understanding of these and similar issues for the future of human behavioral ecology.
Also available in print (as cited above), the audiobook provides no access to the superb 80 pages of notes, references and selected sources provided in the book version (which would be a bonus as CD packaging insert), so be prepared to write a fair number of notes whilst listening to this excellent book, and to perhaps misspell some of the researcher's names on your list to look up next time that you are in the library.
© 2010 Tony Dickinson
Dr. Tony Dickinson, Academic Research Laboratory, People Impact International Inc.