the whole-brain child

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sarah Bessey’s 10 Books a Day for a Week series dramatically increased my to-read list. I have something like twenty books out from the library right now, which I recognize to be a bit ambitious, but I didn’t actually think through the fact that they would all come in immediately when I initially reserved them. I started with one that I’d been wanting to read even before the 10 Books week, so I was pleased to see it on the list of several of the commenters.

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind by Daniel Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, M.D.

I have a new-found passion for learning about child development, particularly that of the brain, since we started fostering. This book has been on my reading list for awhile; at the Tapestry site, they recently concluded a series based on this very book.

Most people lack even a basic understanding of the brain and how it works, so it is no wonder that we have so much trouble with different aspects of parenting our children. This particular book aims to remedy that situation. By understanding our child’s developing brains, we are better able to make decisions to make our parenting easier as well as more successful for our kids. This is a continual struggle for me in parenting. I’m constantly evaluating if my own standards and lack of understanding and empathy for their development is making it harder for them to succeed. I want to set my children up, not for failure, but for success. This book has been so helpful in giving me some concrete ideas on how to do that. The other thing I’m loving about it so far is the tender way it addresses parenting as well as the plain-language explanations of more complicated scientific data and terms.

In the opening chapter, I found this gem: “The moments you are just trying to survive are actually opportunities to help your child thrive.” As a mama who spends much of her time frustrated with her own limitations, her children’s limitations, and the struggles to make the right decisions when parenting, that statement put me at ease immediately. (and I love a book that puts me at ease.)

In case you are interested and want to read along, I’d love to discuss this with you as I chronicle my own thoughts and light-bulb moments: a parenting book club of sorts. I’d love to discuss my take-aways from the book even if you can’t read it yourself. I love the sharpening of skills that comes from discussing parenting with other mamas.

I’m planning to post every Tuesday. Tentative schedule (subject to change if I need to spend more time with a particular strategy):
August 14 – Chapter 2: Strategies 1 and 2
August 21 – Chapter 3: Strategies 3, 4, and 5
August 28 – Chapter 4: Strategies 6 and 7
September 4 – Chapter 5: Strategies 8, 9, and 10
September 11 – Chapter 6: Strategies 11 and 12

Let me know if you’re planning to read along or if you have questions. To start off, do you have a good understanding of child development, particularly that of the brain? I was really surprised by how much I didn’t know when we started off with foster parent training and especially when I started seriously researching and reading about this stuff. I took the standard Psych courses in high school and college, and while they gave me basic knowledge, it definitely wasn’t geared towards children. Now I run the risk of becoming some sort of militant child development Nazi. Balance in all things…                                                                                               

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