Book Review: The Science of Parenting

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This book was recommended to me by Bonnie Badenoch, a Licensed, Family and Marriage Therapist, and author of Being a Brain-Wise Therapist. I had consulted with her about various parenting styles during my daughter’s early years.  It can be a bit confusing for parents, especially first timers, about the best parenting techniques and styles to utilize and help you raise happy and balanced children. Especially when most moms and dads are usually sleep-deprived, any sound advice is welcome in my book!

I found the title: The Science of Parenting intriguing. The author, Margot Sunderland, states in her foreword that she felt compelled to write a science-based book on parenting “to help empower parents to make informed choices for their children based on what we can learn from scientific studies.”  There are many books available that give opinions on various parenting styles and techniques, but what Ms. Sunderland has done is compiled the works of  Professor Jaak Panksepp,  Head of Affective Neuroscience Research at Washington State University, who has been studying the emotional brain for over 30 years.  Professor Pankseep states in the foreword that “this parenting manual describes how healthy minds emerge from emotionally well-fertilized brains, and that the quality of childcare has lifelong consequences.” (Source: The Science of Parenting).

The emotional well-being of our children and the parent-child connection is so important in those formative years to help ensure that they develop into healthy and functioning adults.  She stresses how we as parents have so much influence over how our baby’s emotional brain develops.  In fact, 90 percent of the growth of the human brain occurs in the first five years of life.  Ms. Sunderland mentions how about 2 in every 100 children in the US are taking antidepressants, and the World Health Organization reports that depression in adults will soon reach epidemic proportions.  Over half of children have experienced bullying and 3,080,000 children in the US have been sent home from school due to behavioral problems.  (Source: The Science of Parenting).

I really liked how Ms. Sunderland breaks down the chapters.  She spends the first chapter explaining about the evolution of the brain. For example, she explains how our brains are made up of a core reptilian brain, a lower mammalian brain, and the higher human brain.  Each brain is connected to the others by a huge network of nerves, but each has its own purpose.  For example, the mammalian part of the brain activates rage, fear, separation distress, caring and nurturing, social bonding, etc.  Whereas the reptilian brain activates the more instinctive behaviors necessary for survival such as hunger, digestion/elimination, breathing, circulation, etc.  Sometimes these “three brains” work together wonderfully and sometimes not so much! Most of us have experienced when our children’s brain is in overdrive, such as when they throw a temper tantrum or exhibiting poor behavioral choices.

This book is really amazing and I have been recommending it to my friends for years, It has helped me tremendously during challenging times to be able to step back and have an understanding of why my daughter is behaving a certain way – for example is she hungry and/or tired?  Did she eat some foods that could affect her behavior as children’s brains are underdeveloped and thus very sensitive to certain food additives.

The Science of Parenting is a must-read for parents.  This book is a great guide for parents and helps empower them with scientific and psychological explanations for their child behaviors.

About the Author:

Melissa Northway, MS in Human Nutrition, is a mom, writer, and has written a storybook app  and book called Penelope the Purple Pirate.  Her tomboy was the inspiration to write about a girl  who likes to have adventures with her friends, and at the same time teach little ones the  importance of treating others with kindness and respect. You can read more about Penelope and  Melissa at: Enter to win some Holiday Gifts on Penelope’s Facebook  Page. You can reach her at: [email protected].



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