“Nurture Shock” by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman Part Two

Please see Part One of “NurtureShock”. This book continues with the childhood development themes of where our society has maybe taken our nurturing to an unhealthy level.

  1. What stands out as problems are: the districts who don’t give late-blooming children additional chances to test in, and the lack of objective retesting to ensure the kids who got in young really belong there.
  2. She [Dr. Samantha Punch] determined that kids don’t have an incentive to act nicely to their siblings, compared to friends, because the siblings will be there tomorrow, no matter what. She concluded, “Sibship is a relationship in which the boundaries of social interaction can be pushed to the limit. Rage and irritation need not be suppressed, whilst politeness and toleration can be neglected.”
  3. “Ironically, the type of parents who are actually most consistent in enforcing the rules are the same parents who are most warm and have the most conversations with their kids,” Darling observed. They’ve set a few rules over certain key spheres of influence, and they’ve explained why the rules are there. They expect the child to obey them. Over life’s other spheres, they supported the child’s autonomy, allowing her freedom to make her own decisions. The kids of these parents lied the least. Rather than hiding twelve areas from their parents, they might be hiding as few as five. (See the cadre concept in “Bringing Up Bebe“)
  4. Most kids were just as happy at the conclusion of the session as they were when witnessing a friendly interaction between parents. What this means is that parents who pause mid-argument to take it upstairs– to spare the children– might be making the situation far worse, especially if they forget to tell their kids, “Hey, we worked it out.” Cummings has also found that when couples have arguments entirely away from the kids, the kids might not have seen any of it but are still well aware of it, despite not knowing the specifics. Cummings recently has shown that being exposed to constructive marital conflict can actually be good for children– if it doesn’t escalate, insults are avoided, and the dispute is resolved with affection. This improves their sense of security, over time, and increases their pro-social behavior at school as rated by teachers.
  5. A task force of the American Psychological Association warned that many incidents involve poor judgment, and lapses in judgment are developmentally normative– the result of neurological immaturity. All of which was a fancy way of saying that kids make mistakes because they’re still young. They noted that inflicting automatic, severe punishments was causing an erosion of trust in authority figures. “The kids become fearful– not of other kids, but of the rules– because they think they’ll break them by accident.”
  6. In taking our marital arguments upstairs to avoid exposing the children to strife, we accidentally deprived them of chances to witness how two people who care about each other can work out their differences in a calm and reasoned way.
  7. Proper object-labeling, when the infants were nine months, had an extremely strong positive correlation (81%) with the child’s vocabulary six months later. Crisscrossed labeling– such as saying “bottle” when the baby was holding a spoon– had an extremely negative correlation with resulting vocabulary (-68%).
  8. The Fallacy of Similar Effect: The first assumption that things work in children in the same way that they work in adults. Great insights were gained when scholars set that assumption aside. Consider the research into sleep. It was, for a long time, all too convenient to assume kids are affected by sleep loss the same way as adults– it’s tiring but manageable. But when scholars decided to test that, they found that the magnitude of effect on kids was exponentially damaging.
  9. The Fallacy of Similar Effect also helps explain why society got it wrong on praising children. In a variety of studies, praise has been shown to be effective on adults in workplaces. Grownups like being praised. While praise can undermine a child’s intrinsic motivation, it doesn’t have this affect on adults. It has the opposite effect: being praised by managers increases an adult’s intrinsic motivation, especially in white-collar professional settings.

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children

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