Po Bronson · 336 pages
Rating: (20.8K votes)
“The more controlling the parent,” Caldwell explained, “the more likely a child is to experience boredom.”
“In taking our marital arguments upstairs to avoid exposing the children to strife, we accidentally deprived them of chances to witness how two people who care about each other can work out their differences in a calm and reasoned way.”
“educational television had a dramatic effect on relational aggression. The more the kids watched, the crueler they’d be to their classmates. This correlation was 2.5 times higher than the correlation between violent media and physical aggression.”
“When we changed the channel from violent television to tamer fare, kids just ended up learning the advanced skills of clique formation, friendship withdrawal, and the art of the insult.”
“Children key off their parents’ reaction more than the argument or physical discipline itself.”
“Might our culture-wide perception of what it means to be a teenager be unwittingly skewed by the fact they don’t get enough sleep?”
“Parents often fail to address early childhood lying, since the lying is almost innocent—their child’s too young to know what lies are, or that lying’s wrong. When their child gets older and learns those distinctions, the parents believe, the lying will stop. This is dead wrong, according to Dr. Talwar.”
“(Even for adults, seeing someone’s lips as he speaks is the equivalent of a 20-decibel increase in volume.)”
“And the rule still holds true: more diversity translates into more division between students.”
“She found that obese kids watch no more television than kids who aren’t obese. All the thin kids watch massive amounts of television, too. There was no statistical correlation between obesity and media use, period.”
“Darling found that permissive parents don’t actually learn more about their child’s lives. “Kids who go wild and get in trouble mostly have parents who don’t set rules or standards. Their parents are loving and accepting no matter what the kids do. But the kids take the lack of rules as a sign their parents don’t actually care—that their parent doesn’t really want this job of being the parent.”
“Thomas (his middle name) is a fifth-grader at the highly competitive P.S. 334, the Anderson School on West 84th in New York City. Slim as they get, Thomas recently had his long sandy-blond hair cut short to look like the new James Bond (he took a photo of Daniel Craig to the barber). Unlike Bond, he prefers a uniform of cargo pants and a T-shirt emblazoned with a photo of one of his heroes: Frank Zappa. Thomas hangs out with five friends from the Anderson School. They are “the smart kids.” Thomas is one of them, and he likes belonging. Since Thomas could walk, he has constantly heard that he’s smart. Not just from his parents but from any adult who has come in contact with this precocious child. When he applied to Anderson for kindergarten, his intelligence was statistically confirmed. The school is reserved for the top 1 percent of all applicants, and an IQ test is required. Thomas didn’t just score in the top 1 percent. He scored in the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent. But as Thomas has progressed through school, this self-awareness that he’s smart hasn’t always translated into fearless confidence when attacking his schoolwork. In fact, Thomas’s father noticed just the opposite. “Thomas didn’t want to try things he wouldn’t be successful at,” his father says. “Some things came very quickly to him, but when they didn’t, he gave up almost immediately, concluding, ‘I’m not good at this.’ ” With no more than a glance, Thomas was dividing the world into two—things he was naturally good at and things he wasn’t. For instance, in the early grades, Thomas wasn’t very good at spelling, so he simply demurred from spelling out loud. When Thomas took his first look at fractions, he balked. The biggest hurdle came in third grade. He was supposed to learn cursive penmanship, but he wouldn’t even try for weeks. By then, his teacher was demanding homework be completed in cursive. Rather than play catch-up on his penmanship, Thomas refused outright. Thomas’s father tried to reason with him. “Look, just because you’re smart doesn’t mean you don’t have to put out some effort.” (Eventually, Thomas mastered cursive, but not without a lot of cajoling from his father.) Why does this child, who is measurably at the very top of the charts, lack confidence about his ability to tackle routine school challenges? Thomas is not alone. For a few decades, it’s been noted that a large percentage of all gifted students (those who score in the top 10 percent on aptitude tests) severely underestimate their own abilities. Those afflicted with this lack of perceived competence adopt lower standards for success and expect less of themselves. They underrate the importance of effort, and they overrate how much help they need from a parent.”
“Merry Christmas to all, and y'all sleep tight.”
“All the studies point in the same direction: on average, children who sleep less are fatter than children who sleep more. This isn’t just here, in America—scholars all around the world are considering it, because children everywhere are both getting fatter and getting less sleep.”
“siblings between the ages of three and seven clash 3.5 times per hour, on average. Some of those are brief clashes, others longer, but it adds up to ten minutes of every hour spent arguing.”
“In one study, Cummings found that children’s emotional well-being and security are more affected by the relationship between the parents than by the direct relationship between the parent and child.”
“This variable, how a parent responds to a child’s vocalizations—right in the moment—seems to be the most powerful mechanism pulling a child from babble to fluent speech.”
“According to an extensive study comparing identical twins to fraternal twins, headed by University of New Mexico’s Dr. Philip Dale, only 25% of language acquisition is due to genetic factors.”
“Can I tell you one thing?” Melonhead says.
I swallow. “Sure.”
“One day isn’t your whole life, Murph.” He waits until I look at him. “A day is just a day.”
I scoff and slouch in the chair. “So what are you saying? That people shouldn’t judge me on one mistake? Tell that to Judge Ororos.”
He leans in against the table. “No, kid. I’m saying you shouldn’t judge yourself for it.”
“Don't give in to your fears. If you do, you won't be able to talk to your heart.”
“What does one prefer? An art that struggles to change the social contract, but fails? Or one that seeks to please and amuse, and succeeds?”
“Sumptuary laws, as they were known, laid down precisely, if preposterously, who could wear what.”
“I do, too! Just imagine, I’d have a private practice now, like Yenna. I wouldn’t have to sweat with novices. I wouldn’t have to wipe the noses of the blubbering ones or lock horns with the cheeky ones. Ciri, listen to me and learn. An enchantress always takes action. Wrongly or rightly; that is revealed later. But you should act, be brave, seize life by the scruff of the neck. Believe me, little one, you should only regret inactivity, indecisiveness, hesitation. You shouldn’t regret actions or decisions, even if they occasionally end in sadness and regret.”
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