Review: Brain Rules for Baby, John Medina

Rating: 4 out of 5

While Mr Medina’s introduction into how a child starts to learn about the world was well-written, it lacked a certain oomph that the title could have had. Nevertheless, the author was helpful in separating out the suggestions of what actions have a good effect compared to those that have a negative one—and this, definitely, is useful for anyone who wants a quick reference as to which behaviours should be reinforced.

In many ways, the examples that Mr Medina brought in from other sources were the best part of this work. However, though these generally worked to show the author’s points, they simultaneously constituted a weak link in the story as it often looked as the “how to” part of what should be done wasn’t described in clear steps that could be followed. It’s okay to say what’s going wrong, but it would be much better to actually know how the correct version of that behaviour reinforcement, for example, works—and spending more time of showing this would have made this a better book.

Instead, most of the “do this” points ended up being itemised lists without good working examples. Though there were some exceptions, at times this made it difficult to follow the suggestions to their logical conclusion. I also had some quibbles with the logical order of the book because it did not follow a chronological pattern of youngest to oldest in a child’s development, but rather jumped about. This made sense, to a degree, but there could have been more structure.

Overall, there were plenty of worthy thoughts to take away, and to apply. If I were to single a specific one out, it would be that children, especially the youngest, are much cleverer than most people think.

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