The Whole-Brain Child – A Foster Care and Adoption Book Review

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From the Cover of 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.:

“In this pioneering, practical book, Daniel J. Siegel, neuropsychiatrist and author of the bestselling Mindsight, and parenting expert Tina Payne Bryson offer a revolutionary approach to child rearing with twelve key strategies that foster healthy brain development, leading to calmer, happier children. The authors explain—and make accessible—the new science of how a child’s brain is wired and how it matures. The “upstairs brain,” which makes decisions and balances emotions, is under construction until the mid-twenties. And especially in young children, the right brain and its emotions tend to rule over the logic of the left brain. No wonder kids throw tantrums, fight, or sulk in silence. By applying these discoveries to everyday parenting, you can turn any outburst, argument, or fear into a chance to integrate your child’s brain and foster vital growth.

Complete with age-appropriate strategies for dealing with day-to-day struggles and illustrations that will help you explain these concepts to your child, The Whole-Brain Child shows you how to cultivate healthy emotional and intellectual development so that your children can lead balanced, meaningful, and connected lives.”

Grade:

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Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 4 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a foster/adoptive family. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here]

What I Thought:

The introduction section of this book is titled “Survive and Thrive.” As foster or adoptive parents, we often find ourselves merely surviving, but we long to see our family thrive. The practical strategies in this book aim to help our families do both: survive and thrive.

As the synopsis on the book cover says, this book makes brain science accessible to parents and helps them understand how to parent with the realities of how the brain works in mind. The only reason I did not give this book 5 hoots is that it targets an audience of all parents, not specifically foster or adoptive parents or parents of children with special needs. However, we can still apply all the strategies (though one cannot fully be applied as stated if your child was not with you since birth), and we can certainly ascertain from the book areas in which our child’s brain has not developed and work to nurture growth in those areas.

Not only is this book extremely practical and full of examples, it provides many useful tools. Throughout the book, readers are engaged with “cartoons” showing examples of how not to parent with the strategies and how to use them correctly. These drawings help readers visualize the strategies and further engrain them into their own minds. Each chapter also has a “Whole-Brain Kids” section with drawings to allow parents to teach their children about their own brains and help their children implement their own strategies. Additionally, each chapter contains a section called “Integrating Ourselves” for parents to learn about their own brains and how to integrate them in order to parent better. In the back of the book, two pages called “Refrigerator Sheet” provide a quick reference to remember the strategies introduced in the book. This is followed by a several page long chart—”Whole-Brain Ages and Stages”—where parents can find practical applications for each of the twelve strategies with different ages of children.

All in all, this book should be on every parents’ list of books that they must read. The insight and practical parenting advice contained within this book is invaluable.

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It’s Your Turn:

Be sure to share your thoughts and continue the conversation!

  1. Do you feel you are more right or left brained? What about each of your children?…your spouse or significant other?
  2. Which of the strategies created an “a-ha moment” for you?
  3. Which of the strategies do you feel you need to implement immediately?
  4. Which of the strategies do you feel you are already implementing on some level?
  5. Which of the strategies do you feel will be hardest for you to implement?
    For us, as foster/adoptive parents of children who were not with us since birth or even early childhood, making implicit memories explicit will be difficult as we do not often know what implicit memories may be causing a reaction in our children.
  6. What did you learn about yourself while reading the book?

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