Title: The Whole Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind
Author: Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
Publication Year: 2011
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Review: Overall, I enjoyed the friendly, informative style of this book as well as the fresh look on a lot of fairly common strategies (giving children’s feelings a name, making sure to emotionally connect before disciplining, etc.). Also, material that I knew about sort of generally (left-brain vs. right-brain, primitive, automatic responses vs. evolved, higher-level thinking) were presented in a way that was accessible and helpful.
The only reason I didn’t like this book more was because I felt like it didn’t really teach me anything that I didn’t already know or make me think about some aspect of parenting in a new way. However, it was very good at reminding me of strategies and general philosophies for dealing with my kids that are really useful, but I tend to forget.
For example, there’s a section dealing with what the authors call the upstairs (higher-level, complex thinking) part of the brain and the downstairs (primitive) part of the brain. It paints the picture of a child in the middle of a meltdown being stuck in the downstairs part of their brain and how there is a baby gate preventing them from getting back to the upstairs part. The authors recommend comforting and reconnecting with your child to help them regain access to the upstairs, before trying to reason with them.
The book only has 5 main chapters (left/right brain, upstairs/downstairs brain, implicit/explicit memories, “mindsight” to understand self, and “mindsight” to understand relationship with others). Mindsight seems to be a term coined by one of the authors in a separate book, which I can’t decide whether or not I want to read. Probably not. Based on this book, it seems to just primarily relate to awareness, both of your own thoughts and feelings and the thoughts and feelings of others.
By being consciously aware of what you are focusing on, you can consciously choose to focus on something else. One interesting feature of this book is that the end of each chapter featured both a section on how to apply the tips to your own life as well as a comic strip to help explain the concepts to your child. My son is not even 4, but I found myself trying out a couple of the explanations on him. He might not have gotten it completely (I don’t think he was really in the targeted age range), but he understood it a little and it was a really nice idea, I thought.
This is definitely not a bad book by any means. I enjoyed reading it and felt like it was unique in both style and content with respect to other parenting books. I just didn’t feel like I learned anything revolutionary enough to justify owning my own copy. (Personal Rating: 8/10)
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