Hacking Parenthood With Nurtureshock

One of the books that, when it first came out, was revelatory was Nurtureshock by Po Bronson.

The premise was tht many of the ideas we have about what makes for healthy chidlren and successful parenting are actually different. This is in keeping with the regular theme that the things we think we know because we have just accepted them as common knowledge often don’t reflect reality.

I’ve read the book once, and listened through to the CD’s during long drives 1.5 times (I only got half-way through the second time).

I am still digesting some of the ideas and thinking of ways to implement them.

One of the clearest examples was the role of praise for a child. The book makes a very strong case that praising children for innate traits (such as intelligence) can make them more risk-adverse from trying new things (for fear of proving that they aren’t so ‘smart’ after all). Praising innate intelligence also de-links the more relevant association of effort with mastery.

When a child (I know from observation when growing up and, in part, my own experience), is told they are “smart” – they tend to see the need for effort as proof of stupidity (or lower intelligence). But effort (the right kind of effort, particularly, intentional practice) is the only real “hack” that leads to mastery in any arena.

One of the other hacks they talked about was lying. Lying is laready known to be bad by children. In fact, they see anything that isn’t a representation of the truth to be a lie, even if unwitting.

They also begin to learn how to lie by watching parents. This can include white lies, as well as a failure to live up to commitments.

I will have to revisit again to come up with other key and applicable hacks from the book.

My take-away:

  • Praise for effort or specific behavior
  • Encourage and reward truth-telling