On the other hand . . . maybe parenting is more of an exact science than previously realized. The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland aims to show parents how current scientific research can help their child-rearing efforts. As Sunderland writes, It's both awesome and sobering to know that as parents we have such a direct effect on the actual wiring and long-term chemical balance in our children's brains. Yikes. Sunderland's statement could very well strike terror in the hearts of parents, but this exhaustively researched tome is meant to inform, not frighten, and that's what it does. There's nary an anecdote or bit of personal recollection to be found in these pages, which makes this book distinctly different from the aforementioned guides. Sunderland is interested in the way one's parenting style directly influences, on a psychological and emotional level, a child's brain. It's fascinating stuff, and any parent can benefit from Sunderland's extensive research.

Though backed up by hard science, this accessible book is in part a how-to book, offering guidance on how to handle many types of parenting challenges. In the chapter Behaving Badly, Sunderland addresses not only what to do when children have tantrums but why children behave badly in the first place. This knowledge can equip parents with information that could help prevent bad behavior before it starts. The photos of children in various stages of different meltdowns (yes, there are different types of tantrums), will bring smiles of recognition to parents who've been caught in the maelstrom of a meltdown (and who hasn't?).

The familiar DK format, textbook-like (in the best sense) with colorful, glossy pages and striking photos, makes this an easy book to flip through and read in fits and starts or during fits and tantrums. Katherine Wyrick is a writer in Little Rock and the mother of two.

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