The one book parents of gifted kids should read: NurtureShock

I love to read.

This wasn’t always the case, but I had a friend who spent time with me figuring out my “genre” and once it was found I was hooked. Turns out I love popular fiction. I also can enjoy the occasional thriller or crime mystery. But of all the many books I do enjoy, self-help or non-fiction books do not usually make the list.

I am married to a man who also loves to read.

He reads a lot of informational texts and books about specific topics. To relax he enjoys a fun crime novel, but most of the time he is plowing through business books, books on science, and books about technology.

Chris is the one who has encouraged me to read outside of my comfort zone. If he recommends a book for me I know it won’t be dry or bore me to tears. (For instance, he has never recommended I read a book on quantum physics, even though he finds it fascinating.)


NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman is just such a book.

This book takes many of the long-held beliefs we have about parenting and children, and turns them on their ear. It was such an interesting and eye-opening read that I’ve recommended it to lots of friends and I believe everyone should read it before becoming a parent.

(It’s so much better that those pre-birth books that scare you half to death!)

There are several ways that we have implemented ideas from this book in our parenting.

Praising kids

For example, the first chapter talks about praising our kids. Having gifted kids means that they are often doing things that are impressive. It is my instinct to tell them how smart they are. We think that as parents it is our job to tell our kids how smart they are.

However, it turns out that telling our kids that they are smart is demotivating. The authors share studies that have been done on how kids react when told they are smart and how kids react differently when being praised for their effort.

By the end we were convinced to never call our kids smart! (Have I failed at that? Well, yes I have. But I can tell you why I shouldn’t have done it!)


Another chapter talks about sleep and how important it really is. We know that as parents sleep is good.

But this chapter talks about how our children are actually performing one to two grades lower than their ability when asked to work too early in the morning.

At the time I read this book I was teaching in a public school. Our school day started at around 8 o’clock. This chapter helped me understand those kids who needed to “warm up” in the morning. It is also why we usually start our homeschooling days around 9 o’clock.


The books also deals with giftedness in children. It specifically talks about how kids are identified in elementary schools and how the method by which this is done is missing some of the most brilliant kids out there.

The system needs to be improved based on the latest research on brain development. This book gives some great insights in this area.

The one book every parent of a gifted child should read

It deals with babies, school-age and teens. It talks about siblings, lying, and preschools all while respecting the adults reading the book.

Never once did I feel terrible about how I’d messed my kids up. I simply was inspired to try things a new way.

Each of the ten chapters is riveting and supported by science and research.

If you want something good to read, and you are willing to try something new, try out NurtureShock!


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