The Science of Why I Largely Disregard Parenting Science

Who could possibly throw pine cones at kids as cute as this? Oh, I guess I can.

I was at the park the other day throwing pine cones at my kids when a horrified mother asked, “How can you hit your kids with pine cones!” I said it was pretty easy: you just don’t lead them as much. Continue reading

How to Trick a Child Into Playing the Violin (or Other Boring Things)


In this age of Candy Crush and YouTube fail compilations, science shows how to encourage a 7-year-old to stick with his violin teacher’s insistence on months spent perfecting the perfect hand and bow position (and other boring things). Continue reading

Shyness Study Predicts How Kids Respond to Challenging Social Situations


When excluded from a game, 12.6% of kids were directly assertive, insisting to be included. But 42.5% passively withdrew. But it wasn’t simply shy kids that pulled away. The difference was largely something called “cognitive conflict” as measured by a hairnet of electrodes. Continue reading

Good Praise, Bad Praise: What Begins With Parental Praise?

Praise used to be a good thing — the praised child builds self-esteem! Now, as all of us enlightened GeekDad parents know, it’s a bad thing — the praised child loses the drive to struggle and succeed! So which is it? Is praise good or bad? A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology shows that praising process trumps praising product. Continue reading

Easter Bunny Science: Studies Show How Kids Sort Fantasy From Reality


Contrary to popular misconception, kids start as skeptics, then parents and culture trick kids into belief, and then canny kids find disbelief. But what of the kids who continue to believe in dragons into the middle grades? Are these fantasy kids slow? Are they dumb? Studies suggest the opposite: it takes a nimble mind to buffer belief from the whisperings of reality and the evidence of doubters. Continue reading