Positive parenting: The Whole Brain Child book review


The Whole Brain Child, By Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.

I’ve been (slowly) reading The Whole Brain Child, a book written by two incredibly accomplished brain doctors, which offers strategies to help you develop your child’s brain in a positive way. The book was recommended to me by my good friend Mel when I expressed interest in learning more about positive parenting. Mel’s husband is a psychologist and a big part of his job is to counsel parents and help children with behavioural issues. He often recommends The Whole Brain Child to his patients.

The book sits really well with the whole concept of positive parenting, because it encourages parents to practice mindfulness and to treat their children with respect. It also explains through brain science why children do the things they do –and why us parents react the way we do.

There’s a lot of science in this book, but all of it explained in extremely easy language. Overall, what you really take from the book is a series of “strategies,” or examples of what to do in very specific situations. (I list some of my favourite below).

If there’s one thing I find us parents always need is to know that we are not alone in experiencing a challenge; to hear from others that what our child is doing, and the way we feel about it, is normal. The Whole Brain Child offers huge relief in this respect, because it unravels the mysteries, among other things, of those irrational outbursts. Like when your toddler is mad at you and bites your cheek. (True story. It hurt!).

What I like most about this book is that you can use it almost like a manual. And I say “manual” in the best possible way. This is not a prescription for perfect parenting, but rather a guide that you can use when you feel stuck. And some strategies are simply good reminders of using common sense in everyday situations.

Here are some of my favourites. I love the last one because it reminds you not to take things so seriously all the time!:

Instead of command and demand: A kid gets out of bed and says: “Mom, you never leave me a note in the middle of the night and I hate homework!” The mom responds: “What are you doing out of bed? Get back to your room, and I don’t want to see you until morning.”
–> Try connect and redirect: “Mom, you never leave me a note in the middle of the night and I hate homework!” The mom kneels down to hold her kid, looks him in the eye, and says: “I get frustrated about things like that, too. Want me to leave you a note tonight? And I’ve got some ideas about homework, but it’s late now, so let’s talk tomorrow.”

Instead of how was your day: At the dinner table, mom asks her daughter: “How was your day?” She says: “Good.”
–> Try remember to remember:  Mom starts a conversation to avoid a “yes” and “no” Q&A:

– What was the best part of your day?

– When I played with Cali and I painted.

– I know you love painting. What was the non-the-best-part?

– When Diego bited me.

– Ouch. What happened after he bit you?

– My teacher talked to him and I went on the swing with Cali.

Instead of command and demand: In the tub, a girl tells her mom: “I want daddy to wash my hair!” Mom responds: “Daddy is helping your sister go to sleep right now, but he can wash your hair next time.” The girl screams: “I want daddy!!!!” Mom says: “Yelling isn’t going to work. If you don’t stop, we won’t read any stories tonight.”
–> Try playful parenting: “I want daddy to wash my hair!” Mom puts on a “daddy” face, and says: “Hello Samantha, were you calling me? It’s me, Daddy. Shall I give you the special shampoo?”

There are many many more examples like these throughout the book. I definitely encourage you to check it out, hopefully with your partner!

What do you think? Any other books you think about positive parenting I should read and review here?

Have a great day everyone.


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