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Publisher's Summary

Parenting advice isn't hard to find. There are thousands of books on the subject, as well as a multitude of websites. Much has also been written on the science of child development. What's been lacking, however, are sources of reliable advice that bring together the scientific research and its real-world applications.

This course bridges the divide. In 24 engaging lectures, an expert in the cognitive development of early childhood presents what scientific research has revealed about the things parents can actively do to promote children’s long-term development right from birth. Professor Vishton delivers a wealth of practical tips to help children reach their full potential intellectually, emotionally, physically, and socially. And he supports it all with findings culled from the latest scientific literature.

You’ll touch on topics across all areas of childrearing, from sleep and nutrition to behavior and academics. And you’ll get answers to many of the most common parenting questions:

  • Should I sleep-train my baby by letting her “cry it out”?
  • Should I let my infant, toddler, or child watch TV-and if so, how much?
  • Should I allow my child to play video games?
  • Should I pressure my picky eater to finish her vegetables?
  • Should I spank my child when he misbehaves?

In addition to learning methods for laying an early foundation in subjects such as math and reading, you’ll gain information for boosting your children’s overall cognitive abilities-and even their IQ scores.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2014 The Great Courses; 2014 The Teaching Company, LLC

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Valuable Information, But Lots of Citations

Any additional comments?

This title is valuable, but not engaging. I didn't find myself "racing to listen to the next chapter," like I have other books and lecture series.

Prof. Vishton is a fine lecturer, both in narration and organization; his being a parent adds to his credential. The citations for each of his recommendations are numerous; ultimately these citations fill a lot of time. For the scientific-minded, these citations are necessary and interesting; for the parent looking for good quick advice, the lectures can be summarized into the bulleted list below.

I look forward to applying these takeaways to my two young daughters over the course of the next two decades.

- Do tummy time often with infants.
- Read to your children even as infants.
- Hold bedtime at the same time.
- Introduce new foods in small doses with no pressure, and certainly not while not sick.
- Read often. Let them hold the book. Focus on phonics early. Electronics are not needed, they distract.
- Play with blocks. Run around. Learn a musical instrument.
- Stereotype anticipation is VERY influential, e.g. "Girls are very good/bad at math."
- Intelligence is malleable, not fixed. Teach that. Praise work, not intelligence.
- Memory exercises are proven to work. The Memory Game, Simon, and "I went to China" are good examples.
- Homework: done in a consistent time and place, not right before bed, take breaks, don't give answers when struggling.
- Math: teach fractions, get a "hundred board," play board games.
- Second Language: helps people be creative and mentally flexible, even if initial language development in slowed in the short-term.
- Tv: small, supervised doses of quality, cirriculum-based programming. No violence. No background tv.
- Video games: the right game can be creatively and spatially stimulating. Monitor usage, make sure it doesn't cut into other positive activities.
- Esteem: defend against learned helplessness. Set an example by your own actions. Learning is effort based, not permanently intrinsic. A mastering hobby like drawing should be encouraged if present. - Depression lasting longer than 2-3 weeks should seek counseling. Activity is the most important tool.
- Reward effort, not results.
- How your child cooperates and resolves conflicts with others will largely model your own behavior. Set an example.
- Conflicts aren't bad. They're totally natural and result in improved outcomes if managed properly. Talk about conflicts. Teach taking the perspectives of other people.
- If not require, then let children help with "the chores"--cleaning, picking up toys, etc. To them, it's very engaging and allows them to develop focus.
- Montessori number chains are an excellent way to develop numerical reasoning--the antithesis of "arithmetical memorization."
- Physical education is important and correlates tightly with intellectual development.
- Adolescent brains are literally different than adult brains. Persist with open communication and questions even if there is no response for weeks or months. Give space for them to create their own identity.
- Resist the natural urge to believe vocal, passionate people who do not use scientific reasoning in their conclusions about child rearing (e.g. vaccines and autism).
- Don't rush childhood. Apply these lessons at the appropriate time. Unstructured time for children is rapidly decreasing (removal of recess, after school classes, etc.); do your part to make unstructured time for your children.

316 of 318 people found this review helpful

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  • EmilyK
  • Portland, OR, United States
  • 03-07-16

Good lectures for parents of babies or young child

I enjoyed this lecturer. While I didn't find it hard to turn off, he was always engaging.

I liked the content, though found it was 90+% related to babies and young children. I wanted to note that in case someone was deciding whether to buy it. If you aren't a parent of a very young child, I would skip it. There just isn't enough information of general interest to parents or others.

If you are pregnant or have a baby or young child, highly recommended, especially in a crowded field of information.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • Jacobus
  • Johannesburg, South Africa
  • 03-22-14

A helpful and enlightning overview of parenting

Prof. Peter M. Vishton is an expert in Cognitive Psychology who gives tips on how to raise your children... what was unusual to me was that he didn't do it from a religious perspective, but his suggestions flows from a scientific basis. He actually brings together a huge range of scientific experiments and data by which he sifts the corn from the proverbial chaff. That is the strength and appeal of this course. There is something that any parent can take out of the course that can be applied almost immediately to your own children irrespective of their age and development.

I especially liked Prof. Vishton's almost mantra-like caution that parents should not go overboard. He was also very careful not to give black and white answers how to be a parent. He suggested and supported certain things more than others like being a authoritative parent over and against and authoritarian, permissive or absent parent. I was surprised to discover that video games and even television programmes had a positive side to it, but also realised that children in the United States are in some ways very different from South African children - owning more than one video console - why? Why owning one at all? Be that as it may, this course is an excellent measuring rod by which you can measure your own parenting. It brings new ideas into your grasp, some of which I found had an immediate effect on my relationship with my eldest daughter - like over-explaining instead of just getting impatient and sometimes unnecessarily angry. I am also very glad to have been introduced to the Montessori hundred board.

If there is one concern about the course, is that it is too broad. Divide it into two or three more detailed courses. I think for instance sibling rivalry and the function of pets, which Prof. Vishton mentions towards the end of the course, can really benefit parents. Furthermore it will help to gain a better grasp upon a child in early childhood development, versus a teen and ultimately an adolescent. I would have liked also to know a bit more about gender roles and grand parents. I think the net for this course is thrown a bit wide and a few fish got away.

That said, it is an excellent course, very thought provoking, enlightening and very helpful to guide you in avoiding some of the pitfalls of parenting. I like Prof. Vishton's idea that parents should themselves become scientists when busy parenting their children. The course comes highly recommended (especially when you use an Audible credit to buy it... otherwise you might find it a bit pricey).

40 of 44 people found this review helpful

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Just perfect.

Where does Scientific Secrets for Raising Kids Who Thrive rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Amoung the best

What other book might you compare Scientific Secrets for Raising Kids Who Thrive to and why?

How Childern Succeed; Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden power of character- This is the book I actually started with but got bored with the long winded stories and lack of practical tips

Have you listened to any of Professor Peter M. Vishton’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Lecture 3 over developing food tastes. He explains that spitting out food when trying it for the first time is was and evolutionary advantageous behavior in hunter gather times and didn't imply toddlers didn't like a new food. Sure enough, we watched our toddler over the next few days and reintroduced foods we thought she didn't like and were thrilled to see her developing tastes for them.

Any additional comments?

These lectures are the perfect example of a great audio book. I get bored by more long winded books where the chapters aren't so neatly divided into shorter chunks. I can listen to a full lecture in 2 work commutes. He explains background theory, experimental evidence, and evolutionary roles in developing behaviors. This was just such an enjoyable listen.
It prompted me to buy other great courses books, which weren't as good.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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This is why we have Mommy Wars

What made the experience of listening to Scientific Secrets for Raising Kids Who Thrive the most enjoyable?

The lecture style was nice. The lecturer was clear and animated, thoughtfully presenting his points in a consistent, methodical manner that made sense to the listener.

What did you learn from Scientific Secrets for Raising Kids Who Thrive that you would use in your daily life?

After listening to his discussion on Montessori learning, my husband and I gave deep thought about putting our daughter in Montessori school when she is old enough, and decided it was the best thing for her, and as far as what the lectures discussed, it was the biggest "bang for our buck" so to speak.

Any additional comments?

If you took each and every one of his suggestions, you (or your kids) wouldn't have time to do much else. A martial art, an instrument, a foreign language, a team sport, Montessori school... I think it's important to take everything with a grain of salt, and parent a little from the heart... and don't overwhelm your kid! Otherwise, it's a great lecture I'll listen to again and again as my daughter grows up.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Useful practical information

I found this series of lectures to be loaded with practical information and general guidance. I wouldn't characterize it as a "how to" manual, but more of a synopsis of what studies have to say about what works with children.

There was a good amount of time spent on the Montessori methods, how they were developed and what science (very recently) has to say about what this brilliant lady came up with a long time ago. Also gives some general guidance on how to verify that a school really practices that way or if it just has the Montessori sign out front.

It also does a good job balancing all of this concern for optimizing learning and development in children with the common sense observation (again, backed up by science, and again, only very recently) that kids need a certain amount of time for just plain old play.

Lots of other tips that may seem small but could turn out to be significant and not the kind of thing I would have ever thought of. For example, when kids do well at something, it's apparently better to praise their efforts than to praise their smarts or other innate abilities (i.e., "you worked hard on that, it worked out great, and I'm proud of you" is apparently much better vs. "Look at how well you did on that - I'm so proud of what a smart fellow you are"). Lots of little tips like that caused me to make adjustments to my approach/style on certain things. Has to do with what they call attribution style. Interesting stuff.

These are some of the elements that stood out in my mind. As a parent I'm glad I listened to it, and would recommend it to other parents.

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

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Great Evidence Based recommendation

Any additional comments?

This was an engaging series that provided real world solutions for common parenting questions & concerns. He's a professional in behavioral sciences and delivers his message methodically. I wish I could gift this book to every soon-to-be parent.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Immediately Usable Information

Would you listen to Scientific Secrets for Raising Kids Who Thrive again? Why?

Yes. In fact I am. It has amazing information, insights, and scientifically proven tactics.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Scientific Secrets for Raising Kids Who Thrive?

Don't have just one. Every chapter hit me with quite a memorable epiphanic moment.

Have you listened to any of Professor Peter M. Vishton’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Absolutely - I could easily listen to this book in one sitting if I had the time.

Any additional comments?

Every parent should know this. The only addition I would throw in there is to learn how to be a better individual - of which I mean - parents should find time to meditate and understand themselves, otherwise much of the information given here would be very difficult to incorporate into daily life if they aren't already mentally malleable and willing to try some radically different approaches. Personal progress and development is just as necessary as the course content when it comes to actually making this stuff work.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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So Informative

Both my husband and I loved this book. We're currently pregnant with our first child and are completely clueless to how child psychology works- so we've been doing a lot of reading and asking a lot of questions. Of the books we've read, this one has been the most informative and scientifically backed. I highly recommend this to anyone with kids of any age.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Outstanding

Did you know that whatever the mother eats during the last few months of her pregnancy becomes desirable to the baby throughout his or her life? Go veggies during that time.

You'll know all of that and more about the scientific secrets and research regarding children to make informed decisions.

Worth reading if you're a new parent, and even more recommended if you expect to be.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Paulo Matos
  • 03-10-15

Perfect...

Would you consider the audio edition of Scientific Secrets for Raising Kids Who Thrive to be better than the print version?

There aren't many things to say about the book. The lecturer is amazing and the content is detailed but easy to listen to. It's a pleasure to listen to the whole course and recommended to all parents, would-be parents, caregivers and any other people working with children.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No... take your time to assimilate all the ideas.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Kate
  • 07-11-14

Interesting, insightful, well delivered

What did you like most about Scientific Secrets for Raising Kids Who Thrive?

The lecturer.

What did you like best about this story?

It was very interesting and well structured. It was packed with useful information and tips and the information was balanced and well put together.

What about Professor Peter M. Vishton’s performance did you like?

The presenter was very well spoken and was enjoyable to listen to - the best of the Great Courses lecturers I've listened to so far. He was very knowledgeable and someone I'm sure I would enjoy talking to in person.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, but it was a bit long for that!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Abc
  • 11-29-17

excellent

Every minute is worth listening. I would highly recommend it for parents of kids of all ages.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-25-17

excellent book strongly recommend

The best book on raising kids I've read. excellent and informative,this book really makes you think and make more informed decisions.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-08-17

recommended

very good tips on parenting and styles of it. easy to listen too as well

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Andrei
  • 09-01-17

Good stuff

I already knew say half of these but that l's not the point. The author is thorough and personable and the whole thing was enjoyable and informative.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Abz
  • 08-07-17

Very good vital for all parents

loved it as with 2 young ones its good to get some great insights scientifically as to how their minds and bodies are behaving and what mental stimuli us parents can help them with. Now the hardwork starts!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Adam Berry
  • 06-07-17

Wealth of knowledge

This is an audiobook I will keep coming back to. The helpful tips cover infancy right through to adulthood. The narrator keeps it simple and concise.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Evelyn D.
  • 12-16-16

Critically reviewed evidence based but non judging

Loved these practical recommendations and especially the non judging way it was represented. I have already started to implement them

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Arvin Seeva
  • 02-04-17

Provides a good insight to raising kids.

a good insight into raising kids in the 21st century. provides good evidence based ideas too.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Ken Craig
  • 06-29-17

Smart approach. Useful tips. Succinct delivery.

Cuts through the fluff on parenting advice. Goes straight for simple tips that have sound evidence basis, grounded in contemporary psychology, neuroscience and early education. Everything is practical and pragmatic. Not a lot here that you haven't heard before, but delivered in a way that is direct and empowering.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful