Refrigerator Sheet from The Whole Brain Child

I recently interviewed Dr. Daniel Siegel on Healthy YOU! Radio about his book, The Whole Brain Child. I was so impressed with the succinct way he and his co-author wrote and presented information that I thought I would share it here. They wrote all of the 12 strategies for nurturing children’s developing minds into what they call a “refrigerator sheet”. I have re-typed it here for you. Please print it out and use it if you are a parent or someone who loves and works with children. Then buy the book and read it for great information that will help you with ANY relationship, not just with children. It’s wisdom we can all use. Enjoy!

Refrigerator Sheet from The Whole Brain Child

by Daniel Siegel, MD and Tina Payne Bryson, PH.D.

  1. I.  Integrating the Left and Right brain
    1. a.  Left + Right= clarity and understanding: help your kids use both the logical left brain and the emotional right brain as a team.
    2. b.  What you can do:

i.      Connect and redirect: when your child is upset, connect first emotionally, right brain to right brain. Then, once your child is more in control and receptive, bring in the left-brain lessons and discipline.

ii.      Name it to tame it: when big, right brain emotions are raging out of control, help your kids tell the story about what’s upsetting them, so their left brain can help make sense of their experience and they can feel more in control.

  1. II.  Integrating the upstairs brain and the downstairs brain.
    1. a.  Develop the upstairs brain: watch for ways to help build the sophisticated upstairs brain, which is “under construction” during childhood and adolescence and can be “hijacked” by the downstairs brain, especially in high emotion situations.
    2. b. What you can do:

i.      Engage, don’t enrage: in high stress situations, engage your child’s upstairs brain, rather than triggering the downstairs brain. Don’t immediately play the “Because I told you so” card. Instead, ask questions, request alternatives, even negotiate.

ii.      Use it or lose it: provide lots of opportunities to exercise the upstairs brain. Play, “What would you do?” games, and avoid rescuing kids from difficult situations.

iii.      Move it or lose it: when a child has lost touch with his upstairs brain, help him regain balance by having him move his body.

  1. III.   Integrating Memory
    1. a.      Make the implicit explicit: help your kids make their implicit memories explicit, so that past experiences don’t affect them in debilitating ways.
    2. b.      What you can do:

i.      Use the remote of the mind: when a child is reluctant to narrate a painful event, the internal remote lets her pause, rewind, and fast-forward, a story as she tells it, so she can maintain control over how much of it she views.

ii.      Remember to remember: help your kids exercise their memory by giving them lots of practice at recalling important events: in the car, at the dinner table, wherever.

  1. IV.  Integrating the many parts of myself
    1. a.      The wheel of awareness: when your kids get stuck on one particular point on the rim of their wheel of awareness, help them choose where they focus their attention so they can gain more control over how they feel.
    2. b.      What you can do:

i.      Let the clouds of emotion roll by: remind kids that feelings come and go; they are temporary states, not enduring traits.

ii.      SIFT: help your children pay attention to the Sensations, Images, Feelings, and Thoughts within them.

iii.      Exercise Mindsight: Mindsight practices teach children to calm themselves and focus their attention where they want.

  1. V.   Integrating Self and Other
    1. a.      Wired for “we”: watch for ways to capitalize on the brain’s built-in capacity for social interaction. Create positive mental models of relationship.
    2. b.      What you can do:

i.      Enjoy each other: build fun into the family, so that your kids enjoy positive and satisfying experiences with the people they’re with the most.

ii.      Connect through conflict: instead of an obstacle to avoid, view conflict as an opportunity to teach your kids essential relationship skills, like seeing other people’s perspectives, reading non-verbal cues, and making amends.

Parents get clear on their past    -->         Coherent Narrative    -->        Strong 

Attachment Relationship with kids     -->      Kids Thrive!

Early experience is not fate. By making sense of your past you can free yourself from what might otherwise be a cross-generational legacy of pain and insecure attachment, and instead create an inheritance of nurturance and love for your children.


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