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The Science of Parenting - A Half-Way Through Review

I don't even have to finish the Science of Parenting book to recommend it.  It's excellent reading for the new parent, and (biased though I am), the book completely reinforces my choices to parent the way that I intuitively do.

Granted, it comes with a bias toward a more attachment-parenting style of child-rearing, but the recommendations in the book are based on academic studies in neuroscience that look at which parts of the brain (frontal lobes vs. lower regions) are activated during stress, comfort, and through various discipline and interaction styles.  The main premise is that when kids are little, the way that they are parented can affect which parts of their brain develop (or fail to develop, or overdevelop), and this has repercussions for their physical and psychological health when they are adults.

At first, I thought the book would be really hard to get through, since everyone reviewing it talked about it being in "textbook" format.  However, the publishers are my favourite non-fiction publishers on the planet, DK.  What that means is that there is much attention paid to layout, so that the glossy, colourful pages are engaging and easy for the eye to navigate.  There are pictures, diagrams, little text boxes with extra tidbits, and a summary at the end of each chapter.  Plus, the actual text is not written in academic jargon, so it's easy to read.  And best of all, the references show up at the back, not in a billion little footnotes on the pages; what this means is that you're not overwhelmed by a bunch of fine print at the bottom of the page, and little numbers showing up beside every sentence.

Content-wise, it can either be revolutionary for you, or if you've been keeping up with a lot of the best practices research out there today, then it's more of a review and an affirmation of your current practice as a parent.  I think that the neuroscience behind some of the parenting methods is interesting, and something that I never considered.  I mean, I don't think about the long-term consequences of letting Little L direct me in playing with her (child-led play), or the repercussions of using time-outs (vs. time-ins). I've definitely learned a few things (eg. the "thinking chair" strategy) , reconsidered some of my own practices (eg. using a calm voice instead of my big booming one when reacting to misbehaviour), and gained additional perspective and insight on how developing brains function and how to help with optimal brain development.

The drawbacks of the book are few.  One is that some could say that it doesn't specifically cite studies for each claim and recommendation, and so statements made tend to sound like generalizations.  I think the author tried to synthesize a lot of her lit reviews into this book, so it's unclear whether her statements can *all* be supported by the studies cited in the back, or if some of these are recommendations based on her interpretation of research results.  Another "drawback" is that the book will make you feel like absolute sh!t if you've been spanking your toddler, or letting him/her CIO, or parenting by turning on your cable babysitter, or using locking-in-room time-outs. There might be much guilt felt, since you will be left to wonder if you've irreparably damaged your child's brain with the way that you've been handling him/her.  And lastly, the book is only available in hard copy, not Kindle or Kobo or whatever other e-reading gadget you might use; this means it will take up space in your bookshelf (but the bonus is that you can lend this gorgeous book out to your new parent friends)!

In an ideal world, I'd put this book on the "Required Reading" list for all parents, especially those who have never considered what discipline will look like in their home, or what healthy affection should look like (which is not the Tiger Mom approach, surprise surprise!).  Get your hands on a copy and let me know how glad you are that you did! :D



Thanks for this! I have been looking for something new, and discipline in my house is usually Ollie making it clear we have screwed up or have upset him. I think he is actually laughing at our feeble attempt at NO! I'll let you know my thoughts.
asphodellium said…
Thanks for the recommendation! I've just finished reading this. I don't like it as much as Medina's "Brain Rules for Baby" - that one I LOVE. I find "The Science of Parenting" to be biased interpretation rather than scientific synthesis ... which is okay, I mean, I assume most parenting tomes are biased in one way or another. Except that the title is the SCIENCE of parenting, which led me to expect more evenhandedness.

The book does align with how I intuitively parent, too. But resources that make parents feel like sh!t if they're doing things differently ... I don't think that's helpful. And for that reason, I see "The Science of Parenting" as more of a preaching-to-the-choir book.

Maybe I have enough opinion for a full-fledged book review blog post of my own, HAHA.
Mrs. Loquacious said…
@Asphodellium - you should totally write your own review! It's good for people to be able to get some authentic reactions before they commit their $. I'm also going to pick up "Hold On To Your Kids" by a local favourite - Gordon Neufeld. I've also got another book in the queue that I will review once I've ploughed through it.

@April - As you know I'm a total attached parent. That means that discipline is time-in's, not time-outs, and I am not interested in any techniques that require some form of isolation (time-outs, etc) or physical punishment. It doesn't leave me a lot of other strategies for discipline, so I am trying to read up on it as much as I can!

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