The Whole-Brain Child

I am extremely grateful to a friend and fellow mother who recently gave me a copy of The Whole-Brain by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D. As I ponder the last few weeks with my, ahem, spirited toddler, I cannot help but wish that I’d gotten my hands on this book sooner.


I do not tend to believe that any one parenting book or philosophy is a one-stop shop, as each child and each family circumstance is completely unique, but I do love having as many tools as possible for parenting my son intentionally and mindfully. Without a doubt, this book has helped me on my journey towards being the parent I’d like to be.


Maybe it’s the yogi in me, but what appeals to me the most about the premise of this book is the emphasis on helping your children to be in a state of integration, specifically between the quadrants of the brain, but also in general. Yogis are suckers for words like integration, balance, wholeness, and this book uses them all liberally.


What I also appreciate is the same thing that I value in all parenting books that I take the time to read: whether the advice is a good fit for our family or not, reading them allows me an opportunity to fully examine the way I am parenting and to ask myself important questions about why I do things and if I want to continue or change.


As much as it is my practice and intention to be self-aware, it is much easier said than done, especially while moving through the challenges of parenthood. It is this desire to check-in and make sure I’m parenting in a way that is consistent with my values that gives me solace on the days when I know I have failed miserably. At least I’m not parenting on auto-pilot.


Something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is connection, and this book is bringing it even more to the forefront of my mind. Our children learn about how to connect and what it feels like to be connected to other people through their relationship with us. That’s a huge responsibility. And an integrated, whole, confident child is going to do much better making and sustaining connections in the world than one who experiences fracture. Helping them to develop the full capacity of their amazing brains, I’m learning, can help them in this quest.


Seriously, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Maybe it will influence your parenting, maybe it won’t, but at the very least you’ll learn some interesting stuff about the brain and its development.






About V.K. Harber


V.K. Harber is a yogi, writer and mother of one. She is the co-founder and former managing director of Samdhana-Karana Yoga: A Healing Arts Center in Tacoma, WA, a non-profit yoga studio.She currently resides in Seoul, South Korea where she works as a yoga teacher and post-partum doula. ( She is also a contributing writer at World Moms Blog and can be found on twitter @VKHarberRYT.

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