The Whole Brain Child by Siegel and Bryson

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The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind

by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.

Pros

  • The book is short. 149 pages of text plus some cheat sheets and indexes in the back. This is a great length for a parent on the go!
  • It does an excellent job explaining complex neuroscience in an easy to understand manner. It discusses the brain regarding it’s structure by breaking the larger components into top and bottom brain and then left and right brain. That is simpler than having to remember what each individual brain structure does.
  • Each section is broken down into an introduction, strategies, and examples on implementation. The continued structure makes it really easy to reference in the future if you just need a quick reminder of a skill you want to try to execute.
  • The book includes comics and diagrams to illustrate how to execute conversations with your child and to provide a visual on more complex concepts. It even comes with a “Refrigerator Sheet” so you can copy it and use it as a quick reference. There is even a table in the back to assist you on how to use the skills with children at various developmental stages!

Cons

  • You can tell the book was written by psychologists. The conversations come across as a bit idealistic. This is reinforced by the comics. Perhaps if the comics were a bit more dynamic, showing the emotional reaction of the parents just before enacting the skill would have created a sense of understanding that enacting these skills in the moment, especially if parents are emotionally escalated at the time, would be useful.
  • Regarding parental emotion escalation, I think it could also be useful to have several activities that parents could do on themselves to help them deescalate prior to trying to use these new skills. Trying anything new can be anxiety provoking and if your child is having a tantrum or “dug in” that can make it that much harder. I don’t believe any of these skills would be effective if the parent is emotionally escalated at the time s/he is enacting them.

Summary

All in all, I think this is a great book. I recommend having it on your shelf regardless of the age of your child. Hell, I think anyone could use these skills on anyone in their life. They are pretty practical and straight-forward and not always intuitive.

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