The Whole-Brain Child (2011) is a parent’s guide to understanding children’s minds. These blinks explain how to help your child integrate various aspects of his or her brain and develop into a mentally well-rounded human.
Every new parent is showered with advice, from the best potty training tips to the safest cribs. But there’s one area of knowledge essential to raising a happy kid that no one ever explains: how should you nurture your child’s brain? Doing so requires you teach your kids how to interpret and deal with their experiences.
After all, our brains determine who we are and what we do, and they’re molded by our experiences. Experiences change the brain. For instance, whenever an event occurs, such as a temper tantrum, certain neurons fire in our brains; when the same neurons fire over and over again, they connect to one another.
So, dealing with experiences is a central aspect of parenting, but that doesn’t mean you should protect your child from difficult experiences. Rather, it’s your job to make sure your child uses his entire brain when dealing with everything that happens, regardless of whether it’s enjoyable or painful.
The key idea here is integration. The brain has lots of different parts – which you’ll learn about later on – and for a child to thrive, these parts need to work in harmony to tackle whatever comes his way. This concept is at the root of what’s called whole-brain parenting.
But how can you guide your child toward using his whole brain? Start by using all of yours.
If you use your whole brain, your child will emulate you. For example, when your child throws a tantrum, instead of losing your temper or becoming cold and detached, use your empathy to connect with your child and learn what’s bothering him while using the other parts of your brain to keep your anger under control.
But to do that kind of whole-brain parenting, you’ll first need to learn how your brain works, which is what we’ll explore in the coming blinks.