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
  • BRIE - BALANCE RESILIANCE INSIGHT EMPATHY
  • 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