Mar. 20th, 2012

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The Whole-Brain ChildThe Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Paine Bryson

This current book showcases the most recent research into how brains work and how to harness that knowledge in raising healthy, well-balanced kids. Just what everyone wants, right? And because Siegel and Bryson know that we are all busy parents, they reassure us that their helpful techniques are perfect for using in the stressful, hectic times of life, not just in those imaginary peaceful conversations rocking on the porch swing. They also include frequent cartoons, some for parents, similar to those in “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen…” and some for kids to help them understand how the brain works. There are also summary pages by age at the back which they encourage photocopying. Many of their techniques are about integrating the various functions of the brain, and they have advice for parents with their own feelings as well as for helping kids with theirs.

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Overall, this is a solid book. It’s not one that I’d see being the only parenting book, and while the approach is different, the actual techniques are similar to those covered in older books such as the aforementioned How to Talk So Kids Will Listen… or Becoming the Parent You Want to Be. I have had mixed success with the techniques I’ve tried so far. When the 2.5-year old starts crying because she realizes that she almost got hurt, talking through the event has helped her calm down much more quickly. But trying to explain the wheel to the 7-year-old when he’s already upset, or anything obvious like trying to make him move, has gone over like a lead balloon. He’s upset for a good reason, and he doesn’t want anybody trying to change those feelings. (Distraction, which they do mention, seems to work better.) I never did quite get around to reading the cartoons to him at a calm moment before I had to return the book. Still, some very good thoughts and an easily-absorbed layout make this a fine choice for helping to balance your parenting techniques if you’re feeling stuck or just interested in the latest research. It seems to be getting quite a bit of good press, too, judging by the number of people waiting for it at my library.

Cross-posted to http://library-mama.dreamwidth.org and http://sapphireone.livejournal.com .

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