Attention Parents, Read Brain Rules for Baby

Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina is an excellent, well-researched book about parenting using the latest brain research – it’s almost as good as his You Tube videos where he elaborates on the brain function with hilarious skits and easy-to-follow information.

Medina, a developmental molecular biologist and dad, isn’t selling you a program of classical music or videos – in fact, he would argue that those are not-effective and in the case of videos, damaging. He’s broken down the science behind the brain and made it easy for us non-scientists to grasp.

Let’s look at a few of Medina’s basic brain rules:

  1. The brain cares about survival before learning
  2. Intelligence is more than IQ
  3. Face time, not screen time
  4. Praise effort, not IQ
  5. Guided play — every day
  6. The brain craves community
  7. Labeling emotions calms big feelings
  8. Discipline + warm heart = moral kid
  9. Babies are born with their own temperament
  10. Safe baby, smart baby

Practical Tips (printable .pdf)

A few stand-out “a-ha” insights for me:

  • On empathy: “Researchers in the Chicago area showed that musically experienced kids – those who studied any instrument for at least 10 years, starting before age 7 — responded with greased-lightning speed to subtle variations in emotion-laden cues, such as a baby’s cry.”
  • The secret of happiness: George Vaillant found, as he said in the Atlantic, “The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”
  • “Exercise — especially aerobic exercise — is fantastic for the brain, increasing executive function scores anywhere from 50 percent to 100 percent.”
  • Don’t say “You’re so smart” to a child because then she’ll think of her success or failure is due to some static ability over which she has no control. Instead say, “You worked really hard” which is a growth mindset that shows the child that they can control their outcomes.
  • “The box the flashcards come in is probably more beneficial to a toddler’s brain than the flashcards themselves.”
  • “Sign language may boost cognition by 50 percent.”
  • Learning a foreign language must involve social interaction, not tapes or videos.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a video of Medina busting some parenting myths:

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