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Thoughts on Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina

Title: Brain Rules for Baby [buy the book] [buy the audiobook] [book website]
Author: John Medina [website]
Pages: 304
Genre: Non-fiction
Date Published: October 12, 2010

I approach most projects with the same mindset: arm myself with as much knowledge as possible and then do the project. Pregnancy and parenting have been no different, and the latest book I read (which happened to be on audio), Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina, was so good that I immediately listened to it again. I was tempted to listen to it a third time, but there’s other books I want to listen to, so I had to set it aside for now.

Let me get this out of the way now: I thought Brain Rules for Baby was so good that it should be required reading for all parents and soon-to-be parents. I thought this book was so good, I read it TWICE, which says a lot because I have a rule that I don’t re-read books. I thought this book was so good that I’m already implementing many of his suggestions. I thought this book was so good that I intend to listen to it again in a couple of years, just in case there’s something I can improve on. 

What I liked about Brain Rules for Baby is that not only does Medina quote and discuss a lot of studies, but he tells you how much you should trust that study. A study that was done one time is interesting but the results there from need to be taken with a grain of salt. Studies that have been replicated a number of times can be assumed to be reliable with the results they produce. I like this because he’s not just blithely quoting studies in order to support some bizarre way of parenting. Rather, he uses these studies to illustrate what works and what doesn’t when it comes to parenting.

I consider myself to be a fairly savvy parent. I don’t worry if I’m parenting the “right” way. I’m usually the one dispensing advice instead of asking for it (which, let’s be honest, has more to do with the fact that Ethan is super mellow fellow rather than the fact that I’m so smart). And yet I took away a lot from Brain Rules for Baby that I want to implement in our family. Such as:

  • It’s okay to fight in front of your child, but be sure to reconcile in front of your child as well.
  • Teaching kids to display empathy will allow them to have more friends which will result in their being happy later in life, which is usually all that parents want for their children.
  • Guided play actually helps a child’s IQ because they are learning things like negotiation, how to interact with others, etc.
  • Naming a child’s feeling is the one way to defuse a child’s intense emotions.
  • Run towards a child’s emotions, not away from them. Don’t judge those emotions, just state matter-of-factly that you see those emotions are there.

If I had the physical book, it would have been riddled with post-its. I may end up buying the physical book, but I have to say that the audio was fantastic. In fact, I would say that this is the best audio I’ve listened to so far, because it didn’t sound like the narrator, who happened to be the author, was reading a book. Rather, it sounded like he was giving a  TED presentation. He made a lot of scientific talk easy to follow, easy to understand, relatable, and practical.

I can’t stop talking about this book and telling my friends about Brain Rules for Baby. I’m trying to figure out how I can trick Dave in to listening to it. If I could send all new parents home with a copy of this book, I would. No matter how old your child is, I heartily recommend Brain Rules for Baby!


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