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.