Review: I was fully prepared to not care much for this book. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I tend to find popular things mildly irritating. However, instead I thought the whole book was well-documented, convincing, and fascinating. I think this is a book every parent should read, not just the tree-hugging, touchy-feely, fruity ones like me. This book is divided into 10 unrelated chapters that, in summary, thoroughly convince you of the following lessons: 1) Don’t call your kid “smart” if you want them to succeed. Praise effort instead. 2) Make sure your kid, regardless of age, gets enough sleep. 3) Teach your preschooler/kindergartener/first grader about race. Don’t wait. 4) Kids lie because they want to make you happy. Show them that honesty and truth make you happy. 5) Just because a kid is or is not gifted at ages 5 or 6, does not say much about their future giftedness. 6) Siblings fight mainly because they don’t want to share, not to compete for parental love. 7) Be happy if your teenager argues with you. It means he or she lies less. 8) Preschoolers can be taught to have more self-control using theories by Vygotsky about planning and mature pretend play. 9) Kids who are the most popular are likely to also be the most aggressive. 10) Responding to babies is the best way to teach them to communicate.
My kids are 18 months and almost 4, and the chapters that I found particularly relevant to me were the ones about race and teaching self-control. After reading this book, I’ve ordered a text book on the “Tools of the Mind” curriculum to see if I can implement any of that theory into the way I interact with my kids. However, I thought all of the chapters were extremely interesting, like the study on what happens when you tell sixth graders they’re smart or the one that shows how educational television (like Arthur) might make kids more aggressive than violent shows (like Power Rangers). The only chapter that I found at all confusing was the one on sibling rivalry. It was interesting, and it made it seem like there was hope for teaching siblings to get along, but I was left feeling a little confused about what recommendation they were supporting. (Personal Rating: 9/10)