Another informative “guest blog” entry by Matt S…
A few years ago, I read an article in New York magazine called How Not to Talk to Your Kids, The Inverse Power of Praise, by Po Bronson. I won’t go over the whole theory here, but the article cites research indicating that empty praise can actually have an adverse effect on a child’s self-esteem, academic performance, and even athletic performance. For example, kids who are regularly praised for being smart often avoid taking risks or avoid a task completely if there is a chance they will make a mistake. They don’t want to damage the perception that they are “smart.” Alternatively, kids who are praised for their effort are able to make a connection between their own hard work and their own achievement.
In his new book, Nurture Shock, New Thinking About Children, Po Bronson and co-author Ashley Merryman expand on the inverse power of praise, and address other modern parenting strategies that might be backfiring. The book considers many issues including, the effects of too little sleep, why kids lie, teaching self-control, and parents’ efforts to improve their child’s IQ at an early age. The book is unique because it looks at the science rather than one “expert’s” anecdotes that may or may not apply in a real world situation. The book is not a “how-to” but a starting off point for thinking about these issues in a different way. I found the book fascinating and I highly recommend it to all parents and teachers who want to take a more scientific look at some of the ways we nurture our kids.
The NYC Dads Group looks forward to hosting Nurture Shock author Ashley Merryman for a discussion about the book in the early part of 2010! Stay-tuned for more details!