Review: ‘The Whole Brain Child’ by Dan Siegel


Review of ‘The Whole Brain Child‘ by Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson (Bantam Books, 2011)

Did you know that children possess, in addition to a left brain/right brain, an upstairs and downstairs brain? Yes, their downstairs brain is connected to the limbic system (the seat of emotions) and the upstairs brain connects to the prefrontal cortex (the seat of reason and rational thinking). Furthermore, the pathway to the upstairs brain is under construction until their mid-twenties!  So the next time you wonder why they tantrum because there are no orange popsicles left in the freezer, that’s why!

But don’t despair. Storytelling, for example, engages the left brain and can balance a child’s right brain emotional flood.  Siegel has this wonderful metaphor for mental health: the river of well-being.  When a child is mentally healthy, they sail down the middle of the river and feel calm and at peace. But If they veer off to one side, they hit the banks of rigidity (left brain) or to the other side, the banks of chaos (right brain).


With illustrations and playful cartoons that you can share with your child (or grandchild) Siegel gives you the tools to interact with children in a healthy, positive way  Author of the book ‘Mindsight’, Dan Siegel is an expert on both children’s and adolescent’s brains.

I highly recommend this book to anyone working with children.  Stay tuned for a review of Siegel’s “‘No Drama Discipline’ and his book on the adolescent brain.

Happy reading!

Calm Pond


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