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upstairs brain, downstairs brain

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I am reading a remarkable book called “The Whole Brain Child” by Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. It was recommended to me by a child therapist as a way to help Pia manage some of her intense feelings. The book is great for kids who had to deal with a lot in their very young lives (hmm… just like a lot of kiddos who were adopted), but who may not have the words or even concrete memories to process these events. I am finding it hard to put down, it has so many great tools. I think I will be reading it eight more times before I have to return it to the library.

One thing the book encourages parents to do is teach kids about the parts of their brain and how they work. So last night while Pia was in the tub playing I told her about her “upstairs brain” and her “downstairs brain” (the book even tells you just how to talk to kids about the brain so they will understand). To my surprise she totally got it and we had a great talk about how the upstairs brain can help our downstairs brain handle really big emotions (like fear or anger). Then this morning, as she began to flip out about something (as is the norm) I said “Wait! Does your upstairs brain have something to say to your downstairs brain?” and lo and behold, it was like a switch flipped.

I think I will be sending a valentine to Dr. Siegel and Dr. Bryson. 🙂


2 responses »

  1. Can’t wait to read it. Tell me the day you return it! 🙂

    It might as well be called the Whole Brain Person – I know I could use a better-built staircase between my upstairs and downstairs!

    And kids will respond and learn about these things so much better than we might at first think. I love it when Lou tells me to take three deep breaths!

  2. Hello! Tina Bryson (co-author of the book) here. Thanks so much for sharing the book with people! It’s so rewarding to hear how helpful it is to many people. You can subscribe to my website and get 2 parenting articles a month and hear about where I’ll be speaking. I write about parenting and the brain and development, like in the book. Teaching my own kids and kids in my psychology practice about the upstairs-downstairs brain has been so helpful.

    There’s a free parenting webinar I’m giving on the book as well, if you’re interested. If you follow me on Twitter or on Facebook (Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.) you’ll hear about these as well.


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