Understanding and supporting your child’s unique core personality.


Children who are always on the go. Tests and competitions to get youngsters into the ‘best’ schools. Social criteria that dictate how a child should behave, play, and act at specific ages, even if their brain development is different than the trend. These are all symptoms of “social trends parenting,” says family therapist and educator Michael Gurian in his new book NURTURE THE NATURE: Understanding and Supporting Your Child’s Unique Core Personality.

Gurian coined the phrase “social trends parenting” to refer to our current media-saturated system of raising kids that focuses on constantly changing social fads, experts, and infotainments, instead of a child’s unique and individual nature. Some of the social trends that blindside parents are extensive television and computer use; the anxiety many parents feel about not doing enough for their children; and the negative impact that over-scheduling can have on children of all ages.

In NURTURE THE NATURE, Gurian argues that children are not blank slates to be shaped as we wish. Rather, each is born with a unique core nature–specific needs, strengths, vulnerabilities, and learning style–that cannot be adequately supported with a one-size-fits all approach. “Social trends parenting does not focus on who our children are says Gurian, and it works against the core nature of the individual child, causing children and families to suffer unnecessary anxiety and chronic stress.

Drawing on twenty-five years of academic research and clinical field study, The Gurian Institute’s work with hundreds of school districts and thousands of parents nationwide, as well as the latest research in brain science in child and adolescent development provides readers with the tools they need to uncover their child’s core nature – who their child really is – so each child can flourish and thrive. He explains, for example, that a toddler’s temper tantrum is an internal process that is necessary for emotional growth – parts of the brain literally swell and it’s hard to calm down without the significant outburst of adrenaline that we know as a tantrum. Depending on their core nature, some toddlers are innately better at exploiting their parents through the use of tantrums than others. Gurian advises parents whose toddler routinely throws severe tantrums to let the child have the tantrum – even leave the room if the environment is safe and appropriate – and pre-determine an amount of time before stepping in.

For each stage of development, Gurian describes what parents should be aware of when relating to their children as they grow. For example, he notes that four to six year-olds become naturally attracted to things, and explains how parents can protect their children from the dangers of materialism. He also includes solutions from real-life parents, such as Hannah, a mother of three in Houston, who had her children give away a toy every time they got a new toy, starting when they were four years old. For parents of adolescents, it’s crucial that they help their children learn full coping skills for crises and setbacks. Here, Gurian tells the story of Breva, a thirteen year-old hospitalized for anorexia, but who, with the support of her family, was able to get the help she needed, and find her purpose in life. This family made meaning and mission out of crisis – supporting an individuating core nature, supporting maturity, says Gurian.

Gurian also tackles such issues as the natural differences between boys and girls, and the profound impact diet and sleep have on a child’s moods and relationships. When it comes to how much media – including television, movies, videogames, computer time, and iPod use – is appropriate for developing young minds, Gurian recommends parents to be aware of particular signals that indicate their child’s relationships are being stifled. “A sedentary life in front of the screen cuts off a child from other relationships with parents, extended family, faith communities, healthy peers, and many others who are the brain’s real food of life,” says Gurian. However, he also warns that screen time is not evil. “To overreact to it would be to grab onto yet another social trend – this one saying, media is bad.”

Ultimately, Michael Gurian’s nurture-the-nature system is not just one technique or science: It is a worldview that recognizes that children do not have to fit a certain mold to be successful. Powerful and insightful, NURTURE THE NATURE is a revolutionary parenting guide for people who want to understand and support each of their children’s core natures.


MICHAEL GURIAN is a New York Times best-selling author of twenty eight books, including The Wonder of Boys, The Wonder of Girls, and What Could He Be Thinking? He has been featured multiple times in nearly all the major media, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, Newsweek, Time, The Today Show, Good Morning America, National Public Radio, The 700 Club, and many others.