The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, Survive Everyday Parenting Struggles, and Help Your Family Strive, by Daniel Siegel (MD) and Tina Payne Bryson (Ph.D)

Four stars (of five)

[The title alone should make this review count as two entries!]

Siegel and Bryson introduce the reader not only to the wonders of the childhood brain, but also how to harness its developing stages to create a happier and healthier relationship with children. The authors also tackle approaches that parents/caregivers may not have taken the time to ponder when faced with discipline or emotional situations. Siegel and Bryson explore the various parts of the child brain (so similar, yet different from that of an adult) and explore the HOW and WHY children may not react as rationally or systematically as their adult counterparts. Through an exploration of the upper and lower brains, as well as the right and left hemispheres, the authors present the reader with a better understanding of what goes on in those areas and how children’s brains differ in their developmental stages. After exploring the ‘self’ perspectives of the brain, the authors branch out to examine how using the inner and reflective portions of the lessons outlined in the early chapters, a child can extrapolate towards others and expand their worldly understanding, creating a more peaceful and less emotionally-complex world. Siegel and Bryson’s easy to read style and lessons from both a chid and adult perspective offer great insight to understanding the child rather than simply trying to rewire them to be more cognizant and disciplined beings. Wonderful for the parent/caregiver of any child going through the developmental stages, it will shed much needed light on the elusive aspects of the brain.

Siegel and Bryson offer wonderfully informative chapters to show how working with the brain can be simply achieved, while having momentous outcomes. As explained in the introduction, the book is not overly scientific, but does delve into some of the needed basics to better comprehend what is going on inside the brain and its correlation with childhood (and sometimes adult) actions. By better understanding what is (or is not) going on, the responsible adult can use the techniques to create a more pleasant experience while following the path of childhood emotions and handling discipline or behaviour correction. Their twelve activities to hone in on numerous skills will prove helpful in their own right. This book is not a discipline guide, where the twelve pillars will create the perfect child. Instead, it allows a stronger adult-child relationship, where both parties understand what is going on and can work, as a team, to better the overall situation.

Kudos, Drs. Siegel and Bryson on this wonderful book that has opened my eyes as the parent to a three year-old. I shall stronger recommend this to all parents and caregivers and be sure to refer back to it repeatedly.