Thoughts while reading Nurtureshock–Part I

After being bullied into reading Nurtureshock by PO Bronson and Ashley Merryman–you know who you are–I’m finding myself nodding along while I read. I aim to keep these brief, but I can’t promise I won’t rant at some point along the road.

I completely agree with Part I: The Inverse Power of Praise:

Sure, he’s special. But new research suggests if you tell him that, you’ll ruin him. It’s a neurological fact.

This is one of the pervasive problems with American culture today. This doesn’t mean that you should never complement your child, but you should do it the right way. If a child grows up hearing that everything he or she touches is perfect, how will that child deal with something that he or she does that isn’t perfect? If your child is absolutely tone deaf, don’t tell her she’ll be the next Tony Award Winner

This is what I call “American Idol Syndrome.” Watch the first few weeks of the program and tell me you don’t know what I’m talking about. How many people have gone on National Television and made a complete fool of themselves. I’m not talking about the people who are on that borderline and just need a little more practice (see my next paragraph), I’m talking about those who have no chance, even with pigs soaring above, of being anything more than something at which America just shakes its head (“She Bangs,” anyone?). Most of these people have never been told they can’t do something. I know that I will never be an astronaut, mathematician, astrophysicist. That’s OK. That doesn’t mean I don’t have dreams or goals, most within my reach, some that I’ll strive to attain throughout my life. Don’t just tell your child that their poo doesn’t stink!

As a teacher, I’ve been astonished in some situations where, when confronted with a bad grade, or something more serious, I’ve had parents look me in the eye and tell me that their child couldn’t do that, or even turn around and accuse me of being “out to get” their child, when cheating was discovered. Believe me, that doesn’t help a child. Yes, be there when your child falls, but how else will he learn from mistakes?

Instead, encourage greater effort, praise aspiration, invention, innovation. Steer your child in a direction that is attainable, encourage her to push boundaries and stretch her abilities:

Emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control…they come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the child’s control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure.

A child who grows up believing he can achieve anything just by wanting to (thanks, Disney), will be disappointed.

I want to win the Nobel Peace Prize because I really, really want peace. Gimme!


P.S. See how I didn’t rant? Worked well, huh? 😉


One thought on “Thoughts while reading Nurtureshock–Part I

  1. I don’t think that was really too much of a rant, or at least it was a well articulated one.

    Personally, I feel like a lot of this comes down to honesty. I’m not a big believer in talking to children in the goo goo gah gah way, but rather I talk to them as if they were an adult. Obviously, this is not going to be the case in all situations and I will adjust the level of conversation accordingly. However, my point is that I believe children should be talked to by their parents honestly and realistically. My mother was a great example of a mother who valued what I said and in turn would trust me enough to share reality with me. I do think that children should be allowed to believe that the world is full of opportunity and encouraged to participate in various activities until their passions emerge. Helpful, realistic support then follows as a parent’s love offers the support and encouragement to grow.

    I guess the bottom line is that the nurturing relationship needs to be based in reality with a push towards growth and overcoming obstacles.

    To lie to a child, to set them up to fail, isn’t nurturing at all. In fact, it’s harmful.

    I blame the customer is always right mentality for parents who believe that anyone who calls their child out for any misdeed is maliciously attacking them. People’s minds have been so ingrained with the lawsuit and customer is always right mentality that their mentality ain’t reality.

    And you can put that on a bumper sticker.


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