Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Book Review: The Whole-Brain Child

I cannot recommend this intuitive parenting book enough. Perhaps it was due to my love of the subject of the human brain. Perhaps it was due to my own needs to integrate more fully the various aspects of my own brain. Whatever the reason, I found myself wanting to go out and buy a copy of this book (which I had secured from our library's recent release shelf).

One of its major strengths is the excellent structure which makes the book very easy to follow and utilize. It provides 12 strategies for nurturing a child's developing mind. The strategies are easy to remember and make complete sense.

The authors explain the various regions of the brain - left (logical, literal, linear) and right (emotions, images, memories, communication) hemispheres, and upper (thinking) and lower (feeling) parts of the brain. By understanding more fully the parts of the brain, we are able to navigate the waters of life to avoid chaos, on the one hand, and rigidity, on the other. It was immediately clear where my own integration issues lie. I tend to be much more right brained and lower brained.

As I read the book, and the various suggested steps for helping children achieve better brain integration, I observed my own parent use some of these strategies. I called my parents to share with them an aspect of the future that I am greatly fearing. My father used the first strategy ("Connect and Re-direct") to help me get away from the overwhelming stream of fear and into a more rational state about the situation. He connected with my right brain and then redirected with my left brain. After talking, I didn't feel so distraught. It was a perfect example of what I was busy reading.

The second strategy could also be useful in my own life. It is called "Name it to tame it: telling stories to calm big emotions." This is a tactic used when something traumatic causes a child to get stuck in lower brain responses. The clearest example I can think of is the trauma I experienced at age three when I received 64 shots within eight days. The effects of this experience still linger to this day. Every time I talk it through, though, I become better able to construct ways of dealing with the anxieties I feel in medical situations.

Some of my favorite things about the book were the sections where they offered pictorial lessons for using with your children to explain some of the principals, as well as sections devoted to helping a parent achieve better brain integration. They also provide a reference guide at the end of the book where they break the lessons down into the various ages and stages children go through.

Overall, I find myself wanting to read the book again next year, to continue to fully learn the strategies offered here. Another thing they provide is a refrigerator sheet that breaks down each of the twelve strategies for quick reference. This is a highly practical and interesting book. It is a wonderful resource for parents who wish to help their kids grow and thrive.

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