Thursday, November 29, 2012

2012 Book 27: Brain Rules for Baby

Have you ever read a book and been blown away by how closely the words on the pages echo your own thoughts? That is how I felt when I read Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina.

I first heard about this book when I read a review on Hey Lady! Whatcha Reading? Her review intrigued me:
I thought Brain Rules for Baby was so good that it should be required reading for all parents and soon-to-be parents. I thought this book was so good, I read it TWICE, which says a lot because I have a rule that I don’t re-read books...
Based on her {entire} review and the fact that Jack is still in the baby stage, I immediately downloaded this book on my Kindle. It did not disappoint. The content is really that good. My only negative reaction is that I felt like the book had too many metaphors instead of just saying what it was trying to say. But the advice is solid.

Things I had been thinking about or that Daniel and I have been discussing recently:
  • The importance of keeping your marriage strong {after kids come along}.
  • Screen time. Should you or shouldn't you?
  • Empathy. This has been a hot topic in our household for the last couple of weeks. Not in relation to raising a baby, just the importance of empathy in general. Who knew that empathy and helping your child name their emotions was so key.
  • Explaining the rational behind rules while administering punishment is key. Do not say "BECAUSE I SAID SO."
  • The importance of independent, creative play that has some degree of structure.
There is so much good in this book. I probably highlighted over half of the book and will be consulting it in the future. Daniel is also going to read it so that we can discuss further and be on the same page. If you are not a reader, at least check out the conclusion of this book, it gives the highlights without going into a lot of detail.

I was kind of shocked at how much emphasis this secular book put on the good marriages and encouraging moral behavior in children.

If you have kids or work with young children, I would highly recommend you read this book.

Excerpts from the book:
Having a first child is like swallowing an intoxicating drink made of equal parts joy and terror, chased with a bucketful of transitions nobody ever tells you about.
When I lecture on the science of young brains, the dads (it’s almost always the dads) demand to know how to get their kids into Harvard. The question invariably angers me. I bellow, “You want to get your kid into Harvard? You really want to know what the data say? I’ll tell you what the data say! Go home and love your wife!”

Babies create hypotheses, test them, and then relentlessly appraise their findings with the vigor of a seasoned scientist. This means infants are extraordinarily delightful, surprisingly aggressive learners. They pick up everything.

People view their own behaviors as originating from amendable, situational constraints, but they view other people’s behaviors as originating from inherent, immutable personality traits.

Empathy works so well because it does not require a solution. It requires only understanding.

Thousands of experiments confirm that babies learn about their environment through a series of increasingly self-corrected ideas. They experience sensory observations, make predictions about what they observe, design and deploy experiments capable of testing their predictions, evaluate their tests, and add that knowledge to a self-generated, growing database. The style is naturally aggressive, wonderfully flexible, and annoyingly persistent. They use fluid intelligence to extract information, then crystallize it into memory. Nobody teaches infants how to do this, yet they do it all over the world. This hints at the behavior’s strong evolutionary roots. They are scientists, as their parents suspected all along. And their laboratory is the whole world...

“If you look at 4-year-olds, they are constantly asking questions. But by the time they are 6 ½ years old, they stop asking questions because they quickly learn that teachers value the right answers more than provocative questions. High school students rarely show inquisitiveness. And by the time they’re grown up and are in corporate settings, they have already had the curiosity drummed out of them. Eighty percent of executives spend less than 20 percent of their time on discovering new ideas.

We do not survive so that we can learn. We learn so that we can survive.

Children with a growth mindset tend to have a refreshing attitude toward failure. They do not ruminate over their mistakes. They simply perceive errors as problems to be solved, then go to work.

Exercise—especially aerobic exercise—is fantastic for the brain, increasing executive function scores anywhere from 50 percent to 100 percent.

Authoritative: Just right Responsive plus demanding. The best of the lot. These parents are demanding, but they care a great deal about their kids. They explain their rules and encourage their children to state their reactions to them. They encourage high levels of independence, yet see that children comply with family values.

...a willingness to make the right choices—and to withstand pressure to make the wrong ones, even in the absence of a credible threat or in the presence of a reward—is the goal of moral development.

Parents whose rules issue from warm acceptance and whose rationales are consistently explained end up being perceived as reasonable and fair, rather than as capricious and dictatorial. They are most likely to evince from their kids committed compliance rather than committed defiance.

As a new parent, you may feel sometimes that all children do is take from you, but it is just a form of giving in disguise. Kids present you with an ear infection, but what they are really giving you is patience. They present you with a tantrum, but they are really giving you the honor of witnessing a developing personality. Before you know it, you’ve raised up another human being.


  1. Adding it to my Kindle. Thanks!

  2. Great review. Makes me want to read it even though my kiddo is a teenager now.


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