Overparenting  NOV 14 2008

Joan Acocella discussed the current state of overparenting, aka spoiling, helicopter parenting, hothouse parenting, or death-grip parenting.

Marano thinks that the infant-stimulation craze was a scandal. She accepts the idea of brain plasticity, but she believes that the sculpting goes on for many years past infancy and that its primary arena should be self-stimulation, as the child ventures out into the world. While Mother was driving the kid nuts with the eight-hundredth iteration of "This Little Piggy," she should have been letting him play on his own. Marano assembles her own arsenal of neurological research, guaranteed to scare the pants off any hovering parent. As children explore their environment by themselves-making decisions, taking chances, coping with any attendant anxiety or frustration-their neurological equipment becomes increasingly sophisticated, Marano says. "Dendrites sprout. Synapses form." If, on the other hand, children are protected from such trial-and-error learning, their nervous systems "literally shrink."

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