‘The Whole-Brain Child’ by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson gives you a deeper understanding of the neuroscience of a child’s brain. The book provides readers with practical strategies that can be used with children of all ages. One of the key strengths of the book is that it shows that a child’s brain is constantly changing and that parents can play a role in ensuring that their children develop emotional intelligence.
Our Review of The Whole-Brain Child
‘The Whole-Brain Child’ is very reader-friendly, delving into the neuroscience behind the development of the child’s brain in a very simple and practical way. Throughout the book, the authors’ use real-life experiences to demonstrate how the child’s brain works. They provide strategies to help parents deal with their child’s emotions and ideas to develop their child’s mind.
The brain is very complex and it can be very intimidating to try to understand how it connects to your child’s behaviour. Parenting is challenging, situations arise and parents ask themselves, how do I handle this situation? Parents don’t always get it right, however, this book can help them take steps to nurture a strong and resilient child.
The Child’s Brain
The book starts by explaining the fundamental concepts of a child’s brain, including the left and right side of the brain, as well as the upstairs and downstairs parts of the brain. The book goes on to explain the differences between the left and right brain. The left side is for logical thinking, while the right side of the brain is where emotions are experienced. The book then goes onto explain, how the left and right side work by themselves and together as a whole.
An understanding of how the sides work together, allows parents to respond to their children in an effective way. The strategy called ‘connect and redirect’ is explained, which teaches parents a great way to respond with their child’s whole brain in mind. For example, when a child is upset, responding in a logical way will hit a brick wall of emotion in the right side brain, which can turn into an even bigger emotional response! By responding to their feelings and right side brain, they start to feel supported and calm down, which helps the left side brain logic to turn back on. Once the logical side has come back on this parents can bring in the logical solutions.
The Child’s Brain as a House
The book explores concepts in a very creative way, explaining how the child’s brain can be seen as a house with an upstairs and downstairs. Downstairs is responsible for the basic functions, including innate reactions and strong emotions. On the other hand, upstairs is much more complex, responsible for thinking and planning – helping us to control downstairs emotions. In the book, they explain, that the upstairs part of the brain does not fully develop until a person is in their early 20s, which means parents can play a key role in helping it mature. By understanding the upstairs and downstairs parts of the brain, parents will be able to recognize their child’s responses and know which approach to take in the situation.
The 12 Strategies in the The Whole-Brain Child
The book gives parents a range of strategies which deal with a variety of challenges parents face when raising children. These are the 12 strategies that are discussed in the book.
- Connect and Redirect – When a child is upset:
– Connect first right brain to right brain. Eg. Empathy, touch, feeling.
– Redirect with the left brain. When they are calmer talk to the child about their behaviour.
- Name It to Tame It – Use left brain story telling to help them understand what is upsetting them and feel more in control.
- Engage, Don’t Enrage – In high-stress situations: appeal to the upstairs brain. Keep them thinking and listening rather than just reacting.
- Use It or Lose It – Exercise the upstairs brain. eg. give choices, practice solving problems, practice controlling emotions, consider other’s feelings.
- Move It or Lose It – When kids are reactive encourage physical activities to shift their emotional state and reconnect with their upstairs brain.
- Rewind and Remember – After a difficult event, use the remote of the mind to pause, rewind and fast forward to help them process what happened.
- Remember to Remember – Give kids practice at remembering to help integrate implicit and explicit memories. eg. important and valuable times in their lives.
- Feelings Come & Go – Let the clouds of emotion roll by. Help children understand that negative feelings are temporary.
- SIFT – Teach kids to explore sensations, images, feelings, thoughts inside them to help them understand and change their experience.
- Exercise Mindsight – Give tools and strategies to calm themselves. eg. taking calm breaths, visualising a calm place.
- Connect Through Conflict – use conflict as an opportunity to teach kids.
- Enjoy Each Other –Family fun & Enjoyable Rituals creates positive memories.
The strategies provided in The Whole-Brain Child are practical and very informative. They are perfect for parents who struggle to find effective solutions in times of challenging behaviours.
Are you struggling with challenging behaviours? We are genuinely interested in helping you and your child so please call us on 02 9913 3823 to see how we can assist.