The Yes Brain

EP 171 Tina Payne Bryson.jpg

Click the links below to hear my interview with Aidan McCullen of the Innovation Show. In it, we discuss the difference between "yes" and "no" brains, and talk about the prefrontal cortex, neuroplasticity, social and emotional intelligence, response techniques, attuned communication, my upcoming book, The Power of Showing Up (co-authored with Dr. Dan Siegel), and much more.


Developing Your Child's "Yes Brain"

Dr. Tina Payne Bryson speaks with Discovery Child Development Center about the new book she has co-written with Dr. Dan Siegel, The Yes Brain: How to Cultivate Courage, Curiosity, and Resilience in Your Child.

Topics discussed include:
* Fundamentals of the Yes Brain
* Teaching children to recognize their emotions
* Supporting children through challenging situations
* Handling disappointment
* Perspective taking and empathy

Notes from the Interview

The Yes Brain vs No Brain

  • The book is not about always saying yes to a child
  • 2 states in which brains and nervous systems are in 
  • Our bodies can respond to how we are feeling before we are aware of it
  • The brain is either in reactive mode - No Brain
  • Receptive or open state - Yes Brain
  • As parents we can be yes brain or no brain parents
  • The way we communicate with children shapes their brain
  • Yes brains are resilient, creative and curious
  • They can handle disappointments, whereas a no brain can be rigid or shutdown, anxious, afraid to try new things

Pillars of Success

  • Society has emphasis on achievement as success
  • Some children achieve, but do not have an internal compass
  • Need emotional regulation, or balance to stay in the “green zone”
  • Parents need to try to remain in the green zone themselves
  • Do not want to bubble wrap kids
  • If we want children to be resilient, they need to practice things that are difficult
  • With support, we can help build their emotional muscle
  • Can then have empathy for others who are going through a tough time

Pushin' vs. Cushion

  • We want to push to expand capacity
  • If we push too far though, nervous system will be stressed and send them into reactivate state
  • This leads to more constriction in capacity
  • They will have bigger green zone as they grow up
  • Track how they are doing
  • With support can I keep the child in the green zone?
  • Key is how much support and cushion we will give them ex. Let’s take 3 steps closer or stay for just 5 minutes
  • Provide scaffolding
  • If they are a little comfortable, but you are there with them, they will learn to tolerate being uncomfortable and that helps change their brain

Becoming Aware of Feelings

  • Reactive feelings are not always a choice
  • Give children the language and words for their feelings
  • Teach them strategies for when they are feeling big emotions they have difficulty handling 
  • We can teach children about their brain
  • Can teach breathing strategies
  • We can teach children about green and red zone 
  • Reactive behavior is not necessarily a child’s choice, they are communicating they are not in control and need help and support
  • When children are acting reactively, they need support and empathy. Ex. I see you are having a hard time, how can I help you calm down?

Additional Strategies

  • Adults need to take care of themselves ex. sleep, finding time for our selves
  • Trying to keep ourselves in the green zone as much as we can
  • When you make a mistake as a parent, it is an opportunity to talk about it with your child and learn from it
  • Showing how to repair a relationship is important
  • Children need to learn that sometimes relationships have ruptures, but there are ways to fix them
  • Teach empathy when another child is having a hard time
  • Can ask them what they think is the cause of that behavior
  • Show them empathy when they need it

Show and Tell

  • Be present
  • Allow child to express feelings
  • Take care of ourselves so we can stay in the green zone

The Yes Brain: How To Cultivate Courage, Curiosity, and Resilience In Your Child

The following is a podcast from Parent Footprint:

Dr. Dan welcomes back one of the podcast’s most popular guests -- bestselling author and parenting expert Dr. Tina Payne Bryson ( to discuss her new book The Yes Brain and her pioneering work in area of brain-based parenting. Dr. Tina Bryson is also the co-author (with Dr. Daniel Siegel) of two New York Times bestsellers (The Whole Brain Child and No Drama Discipline) and is Executive Director of the The Center for Connection in Pasadena ( ). 

How can parents cultivate resilience? What is a Yes Brain? What is a No Brain? What is success? How does the pressure of the need for success affect our children today?

Today Dr. Dan and Dr. Tina talk about her new book and the topic of basic brain science -- that is how a child’s brain is either receptive or reactive (affecting their regulation) and what we need to do as parents and educators to support that child’s brain state.

Ultimately parents and educators and caregivers want to move our kids from reactivity (The No Brain/Red Zone) to receptivity (The Yes Brain/Green Zone). The good news? Our kids can be taught to approach life with openness and curiosity. When kids work from a Yes Brain, they’re more willing to take chances and explore. They’re more curious and imaginative. They’re better at relationships and handling adversity. And we can make this a reality!

Dr. Dan explores the four fundamentals of the Yes Brain—balance, resilience, insight, and empathy—with Dr. Tina and how they can be fostered and strengthened in all of our children and students. How? By exploring the mind behind the behaviors in children instead of just focusing on the behavior. Dr. Dan and Dr. Tina offer listeners concrete examples of ways we can intentionally help our children achieve a state of balance -- by deliberate and thoughtful behavior modeling, positive parenting, and supportive disciplining. 

Dr. Dan wraps up this episode by asking his favorite guest question -- What is Tina’s Parent Footprint Moment?  Her lesson about being present and intentionally in the moment is one she continues to revisit on her own parenting journey decades later. 

Today episode is sure to be a new favorite for all Parent Footprint podcast listeners.

Watch this free video to learn more about Dr. Dan and Parent Footprint Awareness Training®.

Nurturing your child's developing mind

This interview first appeared on AirTalk®, an NPR radio show on December 2011.

As a parent, you may be expert at taking care of your child’s body. You know what to do in case of fever, which foods are the healthiest and how to treat a skinned knee. But do you know how to care for your child’s brain? 

Mostly parents don’t, even though the brain pretty much determines who we are and what we do. According to Dr. Daniel Siegel and Tina Bryson, coauthors of “The Whole Brain Child,” (Delacorte Press) the brain plays a pivotal role in almost every aspect of a child's life that parents care about: discipline, self-awareness, decision making, scholastic achievement and relationships. 

In their new book, Siegel, the best selling author of Mindsight, and Bryson, psychotherapist and parenting expert, set out to explain some fundamental concepts about the developing brain so parents are better able to understand their child, respond more effectively to difficult situations, and build a foundation for social, emotional, and mental health. 

Their work is based on the fact that the brain is comprised of different parts and each part has a different function. When the different parts are integrated, they work together in a coordinated and balanced way. When they are not, children become overwhelmed by their emotions and tantrums, meltdowns, aggression ensue. 

Recent brain research shows that the brain is much more elastic than we once thought and that brain chemistry can actually be altered by experience and behavior. In “The Whole Brain Child,” Bryson and Siegel use the latest brain research to develop key strategies for parents to raise calmer, happier, more integrated children. 


Dr. Daniel Siegel, co-author of “The Whole Brain Child: Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Brain” (Delacorte Press) and professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine. He is the author of the best seller “Mindsight.” 

Tina Bryson, PhD, co-author of "The Whole Brain Child: Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Brain." Dr. Bryson is a pediatric and adolescent psychotherapist, parenting consultant, and the director of parenting education and development for the Mindsight Institute.

Hear Dan & Tina Share Stories & Bloopers from The Yes Brain Audiobook

This is a fun podcast featuring Daniel J. Siegel M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson Ph.D.. In it, they talk about their experiences recording The Yes Brain Audiobook, share which words they found the hardest to pronunciation, and more.  

“Our book is about what parents and other caregivers can do in their interactions with their kids that actually develop a more integrated brain that creates a receptive state for learning and keeping the inner spark of your child alive and well."

The Other F Word: How to Move Our Brains Through Failure

This is a recording from my interview on The Other F Word Podcast. Here's a description:

Dr. Tina Payne Bryson is a Psychotherapist, Founder/Executive director of The Center for Connection in Pasadena, and the co-author (with Dr. Dan Siegel) of The Yes Brain as well as two New York Times best-selling books, The Whole Brain Child and No-Drama Discipline. Besides being an expert in the field of science and relationships, Tina is also a parent of three boys, and uses her professional research and personal experience to understand what happens in the body and the nervous system during times of stress, overwhelm and failure. Her blend of research and personal stories highlight ways to bring ourselves and our children to a place of connection and empathy at a time in our society when we are struggling with alarming rates of anxiety and teen suicide. In this passionate conversation, Tina beautifully articulates how failure is an invitation to move into a new way of being.

Episode links: 

Tina Payne Bryson:

The Stanford Resilience Project:

Jean Twenge, iGen:

Carol Dweck, Growth Mindset:

Kristin Neff:

Sunshine Parenting: The Yes Brain

In Episode 20, I’m chatting with Dr. Tina Payne Bryson about her latest book – The Yes Brain – co-authored with Dr. Daniel Siegel. I love this book and highly recommend that every parent, educator, and person who works with kids reads it this year. I found it to be helpful not just in my work with kids but in understanding myself (and my own “Yes Brain”!) better.

Tina was also interview by Sunshine Parenting in November 2017. You can watch the video chat on Facebook or Youtube.


Therapist Uncensored: Attachment Insecurity & Secure Parenting

In this interview, from Therapist Uncensored, Dr. Tina Payne Bryson talks with Sue Marriott, co-host of Therapist Uncensored, about attachment insecurity and secure parenting. Dr. Bryson covers a number of topics, including:

  • parenting when you don’t have a secure background yourself;
  • why constructing a coherent narrative is not really enough, and what needs to be added to the equation;
  • what healthy integration really means;
  • how healthy integration helps us navigate under stress and in the heat of an argument; and,
  • the role of the body over the mind in creating the bottom line, a healthy regulation of self to help others.

Joyful Courage: "Brain-Informed Parenting"

Here's a link to my interview with Joyful Courage. I love sharing the ideas from Whole-Brain Child and No Drama Discipline, and discussing how science can help guide parents in really meaningful ways.

What you will hear in this episode:

  • How Dr. Dan Siegal and Tina collaborated on THE WHOLE-BRAINED CHILD
  • How science can help guide parents in really profound ways
  • Programs, communities and in which Dr. Bryson’s work is taught
  • The importance of HOW are parent shows up to the nervous system of a developing child
  • How getting CURIOUS with your child creates gateways into building important life skills and self regulation
  • How making ASSUMPTIONS delays or stops tool building; ie, taking behavior personal, over explaining behavior, making character assumptions, if they did it once they should be able to consistently complete task/request
  • Paying attention to a developing nervous system
  • If the nervous system is not regulated the child cannot have choice over behavior
  • How to influence the nervous system in both self and child
  • Identification of Dr. Bryson and Dr. Siegals emotional “ZONES”; Red Zone, Blue Zone, Green Zone
  • The Frontal Cortex is not developed yet
  • Children do not have the architecture to control “reptilian brain” / “fight or flight” in red or blue zones – difficulty paying attention, learning, regulating
  • Tools/techniques to get in “green zone” – regulated, calm, empathetic, attune
  • Behavior is communicating child’s lack of skills
  • When to seek out professional help
  • Self regulation – be gentle and kind with ourselves (reference Kristin Neff, of
  • New techniques require time and PRACTICE
  • Calming strategy when child is disregulated- get BELOW eye level and use soothing words including “I’m right here with you”
  • Brain associates with physical state – floppy noodle technique
  • Body shift can help shift emotions
  • How discipline is teaching
  • We need to give children tools not take them away
  • Thoughts on consequences
  • Key actions of soothing, connection, problem-solving, playfulness and being pro-active build a “whole-brained” child
  • How to recognize our own “zones” and practice getting/staying into “green zone”

Click here to listen to additional podcasts from Joyful Courage.

Discovery Child Center: "Rethinking Discipline"

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Mike Dlott, host of Preschool and Beyond, Co-Director of the Discovery Child Development Center, and Director of Discovery Tech in  Morrisville/Cary North Carolina. 

In this episode, titled "Rethinking Discipline", I talk about discipline strategies for children during their preschool years.  This is a time when children start to become more independent and seek increasing control over their environment, resulting in more boundary testing and rulebreaking.  

As parents, this is a critical time to teach children how to recognize and regulate their emotions and how to set clear expectations and limits, as well as for giving children the tools to resolve future conflicts. 

If you prefer to read notes from this interview, you can access them at the Discovery Child Development Center's website.

WOSU Public Media: The Yes Brain Approach to Child Discipline

Time-outs and punishments are often seen as synonymous in the eyes of children and parents alike. Authors Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson have developed an alternative approach to discipline they have coined the "Yes Brain" approach.

Join us today as we discuss the benefits of utilizing the "Yes Brain" technique and how it can help children experience the world with greater curiosity and enthusiasm.