Summer is almost here, which means for me that I will have the chance to tackle the growing stack of books on my bedside table. Some of these books include:
- Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls by Lisa Damour
- Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
- The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt
- Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
- 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah
- The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
- Waking Up White by Debby Irving
- The Other Americans by Laila Lalami
Reading is an individual pleasure, but it’s also relational. Just as many of us will be talking, writing, and tweeting about last night’s final episode of Game of Thrones, our community summer read can bring us together around a shared purpose and offer us new perspectives through the book itself and through conversations with each other that deepen the original experience. Searching for a book we can all read as a community over the summer provides a pleasurable and daunting challenge. It needs to appeal to teachers and parents, to offer some wisdom and insights, and ideally, has some strategies to guide us in our pursuit of serving the children in our community and in our lives.
When I read Dr. Erin Clabough’s Second Nature: How Parents Can Use Neuroscience to Help Kids Develop Empathy, Creativity, and Self-Control, I knew we had a contender. At Turning Point, we use research-based methodologies to shape our pedagogy and programming, so we are always eager to learn more about how neuroscience can translate into better teaching and parenting, and in this case, “to raise a successful child who can make a positive difference in the world.” That got my attention right away. Second Nature focuses on helping children learn self-regulation, a crucial skill composed of empathy, creativity, and self-control.
This book helped me to understand the interconnectedness of these three key elements, and the change in my mindset as an educator and parent has been profound. Using game theory for parenting success? I hadn’t connected these two areas before, and it has changed the way I get buy-in from my children for rules and consequences and help to motivate my sons toward positive choices.
Dr. Clabough is both a researcher and mother of four children, so she has “hands-on” practice of the strategies proposed in the book and understands the need for clear definitions and explanations, and practical exercises you can implement right away.
Parenting is challenging, and our goal is to curate the best of what’s out there, so you are not overwhelmed with myriad parenting books, which can raise anxiety instead of ameliorating it. The more we parent with confidence, the more our children benefit. Consistency and predictability help our children thrive, and by teaching them viable skills, we can back off and allow them to develop the mindsets they need to become positive, successful adults.
When we return in the fall, we’ll have an opportunity to come together to discuss this book. I look forward to hearing about your impressions of this engaging book and to compare notes about what strategies you decided to implement.
Head of School