It ain't necessarily so

Much of what everyone knows about child development isn’t so, write Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman in Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children. Child development research develops over time, they write, leaving old ideas behind.

Kay Hymowitz summarizes in a Wall Street Journal book review.

And what do they show? That high self-esteem doesn’t improve grades, reduce anti-social behavior, deter alcohol drinking or do much of anything good for kids.  In fact, telling kids how smart they are can be counterproductive.   Many children who are convinced that they are little geniuses tend not to put much effort into their work. Others are troubled by the latent anxiety of adults who feel it necessary to praise them constantly.

Young children gain nothing from lessons that try to teach tolerance and promote diversity, Bronson and Merryman write.   Older students may respond by becoming overly sensitive.

As for trying to increase emotional intelligence, the education fad of the 1990s, it doesn’t seem to promote “pro-social values” either. It turns out that bullies use their considerable EQ to control their peers.

Programs to prevent students from dropping out or using drugs have no effect, the book concludes.

Tests to determine giftedness in young children are unreliable because children change so much in the early years. Baby Einstein videos? A waste of money.

Not much of a shock, as Hymowitz writes, but good to know.

In Science of Kids, Wray Herbert focuses on Nurture Shock‘s essay on kids and lying.

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Comments

  1. Bill Leonard says:

    Our kids were in the first generation to grow up with Sesame Street. I don’t think it hurt either of them, but I don’t think it helped much, either.

    Beyond pushing political correctness and making children into good little TV-watchers, I’m not sure Sesame Street has much to offer.

    Our kids were in the first generation to grow up with Sesame Street. I don’t think it hurt either of them, but I don’t think it helped much, either. Beyond pushing political correctness and making children into good little TV-watchers, I’m not sure Sesame Street has much to offer.

  2. George Larson says:

    I was not disagreeing with what Mike said. The authors are not researchers, but they seem to be science writers with a good reputation. It does not disqualify them either. I would have to look the book over to see if they are full of hot air.
    I was not disagreeing with what Mike said. The authors are not researchers, but they seem to be science writers with a good reputation. It does not disqualify them either. I would have to look the book over to see if they are full of hot air.

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    Crimson.
    Sounds as if he has a high FPQ. “Free Person Quotient”.
    Crimson. Sounds as if he has a high FPQ. “Free Person Quotient”.

  4. Tests to determine giftedness in young children may not have a high reliability, but they’re much more likely to underestimate IQ than overestimate it.

    It’s easy to get an artificially low score in a young child because they are notoriously difficult to get to cooperate. When my DS took the Weschler Preschool IQ test at age 3, he decided that he’d much rather build his own block creations than copy the evaluator’s designs as he was supposed to be doing. He got a really low score on that portion of the test. But he loved the putting together puzzle section and, in fact, ceilinged on it. The psychologist ended up not even completing the test because of my DS’ lack of cooperation. She had gotten the information she had needed from it (that his language delay was not due to an overall low IQ) and recommended he be retested when he’s older if we want an accurate score.

    But I don’t see how a young kid could get an artificially high IQ score (unless he or she has been coached by someone feeding him/her the answers straight off the test).

  5. I read an advance copy of this book, and found it very interesting. I’d recommend people take the time to look at it.

  6. Heck, I’d even question the value of Sesame Steet or the Muppets.

  7. George Larson says:

    With Po Bronson, Ashley Merryman is the co-author of NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children, to be published in September by Twelve. Just in the past two years, Merryman and Bronson have won the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Award for Best Science Journalism, a Clarion Award for Best Magazine Feature, the Mensa Press Award, and the award for outstanding journalism from the Council on Contemporary Families.”

  8. We got a couple of Baby Einstein videos as a gift and tried watching one. It was like the Muppets being done by someone who had never seen the Muppets. It made me glad that I’ve never done drugs, because now I’m pretty sure I know what it’s like.