• The Orchid and the Dandelion

  • Why Some Children Struggle and How All Can Thrive
  • By: W. Thomas Boyce
  • Narrated by: Fred Sanders
  • Length: 10 hrs and 23 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (175 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"Based on groundbreaking research that has the power to change the lives of countless children - and the adults who love them." (Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts)

A book that offers hope and a pathway to success for parents, teachers, psychologists, and child development experts coping with difficult children 

In Tom Boyce's extraordinary new audiobook, he explores the "dandelion" child (hardy, resilient, healthy), able to survive and flourish under most circumstances, and the "orchid" child (sensitive, susceptible, fragile), who, given the right support, can thrive as much as, if not more than, other children. 

Boyce writes of his pathfinding research as a developmental pediatrician working with troubled children in child-development research for almost four decades and explores his major discovery that reveals how genetic make-up and environment shape behavior. He writes that certain variant genes can increase a person's susceptibility to depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and antisocial, sociopathic, or violent behaviors. But rather than seeing this "risk" gene as a liability, Boyce, through his daring research, has recast the way we think of human frailty and has shown that while these "bad" genes can create problems, they can also, in the right setting and the right environment, result in producing children who not only do better than before but far exceed their peers. 

Orchid children, Boyce makes clear, are not failed dandelions; they are a different category of child, with special sensitivities and strengths, and need to be nurtured and taught in special ways. And in The Orchid and the Dandelion, Boyce shows us how to understand these children for their unique sensibilities, their considerable challenges, their remarkable gifts.

©2019 W. Thomas Boyce (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"This book fills an important need. Tom Boyce's elegantly simple characterization of dandelion and orchid children belies the complexity and rigor of the research that informs it. His book shows parents why the same conditions that may be good for one of their children will not be best for the other." (Nancy Adler, professor of psychiatry and medical psychology at University of California, San Francisco)

“Boyce’s stellar research on orchid and dandelion children will help parents and professionals develop greater sensitivity to the needs of orchid kids who are biologically challenged but surprisingly have much higher potential. A must read for all parents, teachers, and psychologists.” (John M. Gottman, PhD, New York Times best-selling author of Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child)

"What is so timely about this book is that it brings a fresh perspective to individual differences. The author's clinical and academic expertise is unique; his prose is lucid and engaging; and he tackles a problem of enormous importance." (Charles A. Nelson III, professor of pediatrics, Harvard Medical School) 

What listeners say about The Orchid and the Dandelion

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Interesting Concepts, Lacks Suggestions

I really liked the idea behind the book. And Dr. Boyce did well to describe the cases and problems he encountered in his medical practice, which led him to the realization that all children exist on a spectrum of Orchid & Dandelion children. But I felt that he went too far into the methodology of his studies, and the read got a bit dry at times. He also continually brought the concept back to his own personal story of his sister, who tragically died as an adult. He blames her death on his and his parents' lack of understanding of her orchid-like tendencies, leading her to a life of searching and yearning and mental illness. But I felt that it came off as his tortured reason for writing this book. Instead, I wish that he had taken time to make suggestions for how to use the knowledge of this spectrum of child development in practical ways to help guide my own children in their own journeys. Still, the read was enlightening at times, and there are things I can take away from certain chapters, that will inform some of my approaches to parenting.

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Loved this book

A sweet, wise, well-researched and sometimes heart-aching book about how differently some children perceive the world and how we can help all of them. With many anecdotal and scientific stories, this book is extremely informational while at the same time tender and heartfelt. I am a retired pediatrician and I would love to have read this early in my career as well as early in my parenting. I also wish that my own parents could have read it. I now, after reading have a clearer understanding of epigenetics. This book is highly recommended by me. And the narrator was excellent

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I finally know who I am

This book reaffirms my deepest self almost like a nurturing parent should have. I finally know why my experience of my non-nurturing and critical parents was so different from that of my six siblings: I am an 'orchid' child. Over and over again, my mother would say to me, "Why do you have to be so sensitive?" or "Why can't you be more like [so-and-so]". I developed depression as a child and had major depression events as an adult, all of which were connected to being raised in an environment of an angry, alcoholic father and a distant, critical mother. I have always been aware of a potential deep within myself for creativity in many forms, which manifested itself occasionally, but was suppressed over and over again with depression episodes.
This book also reaffirms for me my own research on how prior generations can pass their traumas to the current generation in two ways: parenting style and epigenetics. I fervently hope that further research into epigenetics will lead to huge advances in both preventive and maintenance treatments for the orchids in our world. We need them now more than ever.

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What an incredible book!

As a mother for both orchid and dandelion kids, this book made me understand better the differences among my kids and have a deeper understanding about my own childhood. This is a super important book, especially for parents with orchid kids, whom struggle to understand. Am so thankful to have been introduced to this book. 🙏

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Wonderfully written with a powerful message

This is an excellent book for any parent, healthcare provider, or educator. Written as an engaging story of evolving research and personal stories, it provides insight in parenting and practice with a depth of understanding of humanity few easily portray.

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Excellent

Very informative and researched based book. Very helpful as a parent or for anyone interested in society

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Read it! It's about about us all.

Tom Boyce puts in well chosen ways and words elements of what could be a large part of the answer to the " why did it turn out that way" question so often asked by anguished parents and families. Well grounded in medical science and expressed in beautiful language this book is a must read for us all... especially those with hopes, dreams and plans for children growing up in a better world.

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Applicable for all humans

This is a fantastic book that literally everyone should read/listen to. If you don’t treat children, or have children, it’s still 100% relevant because you used to be a child (at the very least). A great depiction of how our genes and environmental factors interact, yielding different health outcomes for children.

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May be every family

In the end the poem made me cry. As a dandelion who has has what the author states as absurd opportunities and success, from a large family with maybe half Orchids, I watched them all die or struggle into adulthood.

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Thoughtful

Boyce questions and gives suggestions on how to care for all children hence people in our society buy Looking at both the most vulnerable, the most successful and everyone in between. The gifts we all bring to the table are important. I like Boyce Have wondered how the eight children in my own family could turn out so differently. This is an on going topic that we as a society should continue to revisit. Thanks for putting the conversation out there.