A developmental pediatrician reveals how genetic make-up and environment shape behavior and explains how to understand troubled children for their unique sensibilities, their considerable challenges, and their remarkable gifts.
... fascinating and beautifully written ... The amazing thing about a book packed with science (plus a few charts, graphs, notes and a glossary) is how poetic and poignant the writing is. Boyce is a warm narrator who seamlessly guides readers through scientific studies, case histories and his own career and family history.
The best child development books offer lucid guidance that is informed by research, inspired by compassion, and presented with lyrical prose ... Tom Boyce joins this select group with The Orchid and the Dandelion, a beautifully written book that highlights some of the most fundamental differences among children and suggests ways that parents, teachers, and caregivers can help our most sensitive kids develop and lead happy and productive lives ... Boyce writes with the composed expertise of a doctor and researcher, but his book is also deeply personal ... One of the elements of his approach that is so appealing is that he shuts down negative moral judgment about children who appear less strong and resilient than their peers ... Authors of popular books on child psychology and development like to throw in some neuroscience, and Boyce doesn’t disappoint, offering a primer on the prefrontal cortex, autonomic nervous system, and cortisol levels. Happily, I found his science lesson accessible, relevant, and brief.
This is a necessary and important book. To know that one fifth of people do not have a choice about how they physically react to stress should make us more understanding of the differences between us all. Children should be nurtured so that both orchids and dandelions can thrive. But I worry about how the orchid and dandelion theory might be employed. The danger of putting people into categories is that we unwittingly respond not to the person, but to their label.