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The Science of Parenting

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  559 ratings  ·  80 reviews
Intriguing, thought-provoking, and controversial, this book offers practical parenting techniques, explains how a baby's brain is hardwired, and gives strategies for parents at each age and stage of their baby's development to ensure that their child is psychologically well adjusted, balanced, and emotionally healthy.
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 15th 2006 by DK
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  559 ratings  ·  80 reviews

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Sep 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
As a psychology graduate I am so tired of people publishing their personal opinion on childrearing as if its fact. This book is actually research based and validates all those mothers who instinctively go to comfort and hold a child. Read this book, trust your instincts as a parent and ignore all typical 'nanny style' parenting books and well meaning health visitors who tell you to let your child 'cry it out'.
Mar 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
wonderful book. So good to have some scientific back up to show that gentle parenting is the best for your child.
Feb 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
This book shows that the only thing worse than a parenting book based on anecdotal evidence is a parenting book based on anecdotal evidence that sprinkles just enough science throughout it that it can pretend to be based on science. There are some interesting reports on neuroscientific studies, and some good advice and really nice photos sprinkled throughout, but it bothered me how judgmental the author was about people who make different parenting decisions than the one she advocates (she didn' ...more
Sheila Rose
Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best parenting books available. It uses brain science to show that attentive, gentle parenting is absolutely essential to a child's development and mental health, both presently and in the future. Some people will find parts of this book hard to hear and feel guilty knowing that they have parented their children in a way that may have been damaging to them in the past and it also may remind some of painful experiences from childhood. My boyfriend told me after reading this boo ...more
Jul 17, 2009 is currently reading it
So, it turns out I'm not that crazy after all for doing (mostly) attachment parenting...the science of how a baby's brain develops backs it up!
Kelly Cooke
Sep 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Came across this at the library and I really liked it a lot. My favorite class in college was Biological Psychology, or what's going on in our brains and bodies when different things happen to us. This book is like that but for babies and kids. Lots of brain scans that show what is lighting up in the brain when babies go through different experiences and discusses long-term effects and consequences of various parenting practices (Spoiler! Affection and emotional connection, good. Leaving them to ...more
Jul 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
GREAT parenting book! I would recommend it to everyone. The book focuses on what we know about the brain now (from brain research, which incidentally wasn't available to our mothers) and what it tells us about what is happening in the minds of our children. This understanding, in turn, helps us to know how to parent in ways that fit a child's brain processes. I didn't read it until I had a toddler, but wish I had picked it up sooner. What is more of a mystery than an infant's mind? It would have ...more
Nikki Magennis
Jan 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Lots of interesting information about brains and chemicals. Sadly, a fair amount of those silly 'Margot wasn't hugged when she was three and now she's a serial killer' stories with accompanying badly posed stock photos too.
I happen to agree with many of the ideas presented in this book as scientific fact, but I think it's a bit rich to claim objectivity when there are patently so many agendas embedded in the interpretation of a few studies - and especially when the language used is so loaded wi
Apr 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A MUST-READ for every parent, caregiver, or teacher. Everyone I recommend it to passes it on to at least three other people and they all love it too. Uses the latest brain research to finally answer the questions all parents have about how to raise their children.
Jan 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Must read for all parents.
Wordsmith J
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: haveread
I see that there are many who note that the physical design of this book is akin to a actually WAS a textbook in my master's in counseling psychology coursework, for classes pertaining to counseling parents of children and adolescents. This helps with the organization, and splits it up into easily digestible chunks of information.

From what I can tell, the people who tend to give the lowest ratings are the people who feel defensive about the neuroscience-based recommendations to av
Jul 20, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
As a reference librarian and mother to be, I have no idea how a book based on "science" can be authored by someone without a MD, PsyD, or any medical credentials except and honorary doctorate. Seriously if you can tell me where even her Bachelor's degree is from, I'll shut up. Also, this book advocates co-sleeping & bed-sharing which is NOT recommended by: The American Association of Pediatrics , March of Dimes, the Center for Disease Control, and many other credible sources. Moms please do your ...more
Oct 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
Pros: I always appreciate the science lessons. My neuroscientist of a husband wasn't too enlightened, but he got a kick out of my sudden fascination with brainy chemicals. The most applicable lessons to be taken from the book are how to visualize the perspective of a child, identify the difference between actual stress/grief and intentional naughtiness, and when/how to address the underlying emotions rather than the outward behavior. It's refreshing to read about parental tools that help young c ...more
Michael Kirschenbaum
Good book for an introduction to developmental neuroscience for the layperson just looking to raise kids, however I felt the book often oversold the evidence as it relates to specific interventions. For instance when it comes to co-sleeping It comes off pretty clearly that the author is pushing an agenda for sharing the same bed, when the consensus amongst experts is that this is unsafe. She selects articles from literature that support her view but does not really present the alternative views. ...more
Lady Susan
Mar 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
This book is unique as it talks about brain development in children. This has been really helpful in being able to respond appropriately to my child. It helps to understand how the brain develops and how that influences behavior and perception. I find that I can respond more appropriately when my child is crying. I can also recognize how certain acts (ie such as coming in for a quick hug) is a way for my child to reconnect and to get a dose of happy hormones.

It is also a good reminder that how
Aug 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Katherine Damato
I'll have to revisit the last two-thirds of this book, which deal more with toddlers and older children, but I just loved the first third. Most of my comments have already appeared in other reviews, like how I really dug the concept of not just offering advice, but explaining the neurobiological basis for said advice. But on top of the usual reactions, I also loved that unlike so many parenting books, Sunderland doesn't feel the need to address her advice to one parent (usually "mom," which, lik ...more
Jun 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology-ish
Really good book. Justin and I both loved it, especially since we are both psychologists. It was kind of formatted like a textbook but it was very easy to read and very interesting. And while it was easy to read, it was also very scientific and thoroughly researched and drew on the knowlegde we both already have of brain anatomy, chemical development, attachment, etc. So it wasn't just someone's opinion disguised as a "science" like so many parenting books. I would recommend it for ANY new paren ...more
May 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have never in my life been more conflicted on how to rate a book. Some parts were 5 stars, and so many other parts were ZERO STARS. And the zero stars has almost nothing to do with the author’s thoughts on parenting—I agreed with almost everything she said. But the way she said it sometimes...??? I have SO many things to say about this book.

1. She really can’t make up her own mind. Sometimes, she talks about how it’s okay that we as parents make mistakes; parenting is hard, and we need to cut
Jonathan Lange
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Being based on a solid scientific corpus this book is a great resource for budding parents. It will be read again and consulted many times.

As some reviews here suggest I would say it is true that the author can come of as judgemental. It is mentioned that the science is not conclusive and maybe it does paint a too clear a picture about what good scientific parenting would look like. This might be missleading for someone with a vague understanding of the scientific process and how academia works
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh my gosh,a wonderful reference and companion to attachment parenting theory books. Great gift to give because unbiased because of the science references, and yet still filled with wonderful parenting advice.
Marco Klein
Apr 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good overview of neurochemical and behavioral aspects of children, which helps inform parenting styles that are appropriate in each situation. Good reading for anyone looking for guidance on gow to be a good parent with regards to what is physically and psychologically going on in their child.
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not crazy about the title. I'm pretty sure parenting is just as much of an art as a science. However, great content.
Nathan Chapman
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Informative and a great help to an aspiring parent!
Brontë Welker
Apr 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In everything, there is no “one way” to achieve a desired outcome. However, this book does an excellent job of laying out the scientific research and the best practices in parenting based on such.
Mar 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
Based on the evidence of what happened to the children's brain when we parent them on certain way, this book is totally different from the other parenting books I have read.

Certain common parenting practices have been elaborated by the author, for example : sleep training, prolong crying, negative remarks,bullying, emotionally unattached parents, diet and nutrition, under stimulated child and the list goes on.

The author strongly advised to fulfill the emotional needs of our children, because it
Jan 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
I love that this book gives not just advice on common parenting problems (sleep, discipline, etc.) but also explains the science behind the advice.

My only complaint about the book is that its treatment of each topic can be somewhat cursory. For example, the authors are big advocates of cosleeping and advance strong scientific arguments for its safety and effectiveness. But they leave a lot of questions unanswered, like, Where does the baby sleep when the parent is not sleeping? What guidance do
Andrea Peters
Oct 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I had been wanting to find a book that described a child's cognitive abilities kind of year by year. This isn't it but it is the best I have found so far. I think many parents frustrations could be lessened if they knew their child's cognitive ability at any given year. I didn't like the author's name calling of children though. "When your child is being horrible or awful..." Really? You have just spent the last 100+ pages telling us they aren't in control if their emotions but you're cool with ...more
Kelli Oliver George
Mar 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I love, LOVE this book. It is hands-down one of my favorite parenting books. It is based on actual brain research and the information is SO useful.

I enjoy this book because I am fascinated by the biology of what's going on with babies and toddlers. There are often valid reasons for what they do simply because their little brains and nervous systems are still developing, yet we desperately want them to act like little, logical adults. This book goes a long way in explaining why parents need to ma
I am firmly in the ignore-all-parenting-experts camp. (Seriously, people, guilt-free's the way to go). But, I think neuro science is fascinating (brains!). If, like me, you find baby books annoyingly science-free (assuming psychology isn't a science--personal preference, that assumption), then this is a really cool read about how scientists think very young brains mature, with pretty brain scan pictures and nifty names of hormones. If, unlike me, you're committed to certain baby wrangling conven ...more
Oct 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I wish I would've read this one when my kids were first born. There might not be an instruction manual for raising kids but this is sure close. I recommend that all new parents read this before their kids are born or as soon as possible after and keep it around for reference and refresh. Pair this book with Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay and you've got a great set of tools to get you started or back on track as a parent who wants to raise self-confident and responsible ...more
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