The Whole-Brain Child Workbook – REVIEW

Do you have an effective plan (or any kind of plan, for that matter) for dealing with your kids’ emotional outbursts, sibling conflicts, sulking, or other behavioral issues?

Maybe you are still wishing someone would give you that magical parenting how-to book… you know, a guide to help you understand your kids’ minds and how to work through the struggles at different stages of your kids’ growth?

The Whole-Brain Child Workbook might be exactly what you are looking for!

Based on the bestselling book The Whole-Brained Child by Dr. Siegel & Dr. Bryson, The Whole-Brain Child WORKBOOK offers practical exercises to help parents understand and work through parenting challenges.  The workbook is a tool to help parents work toward deeper connections with their kids and a better understanding of themselves as a parent.

The Whole-Brain Child Workbook REVIEW - Education Possible

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The Whole-Brain Child

The Whole-Brain Child books explain to parents the science of how a child’s brain is wired and matures over time. Don’t worry; these books are not filled with long, involved science lessons. Rather, they are filled with clear and practical explanations to help parents better understand why kids think and react the way they do. And in turn, parents can use specific activities to help kids process their own ideas and action to not only survive, but also thrive.

Here are the concepts covered in The Whole-Brain Child book and workbook:

Two Brains are Better Than One

The right brain is the emotional side and the left brain is the logical side. Ideally we want to help kids integrate these two sides of their brains so they can be connected to both their logical and emotional selves.

When kids are young they usually respond first with emotions (think tantrums, fighting, arguing…). As parents we can help kids learn to integrate the emotions and logic and ultimately respond to situations in a healthier way.

Building the Staircase of the Mind

Additional connections we need to help kids build are between the “upstairs” and “downstairs” brain.

The “downstairs brain” is more instinctual while the “upstairs brain” is responsible for sound decision making, empathy, and self-understanding. When these areas of the brain work together people can take time to think through complex situations before acting and understanding the consequences of their actions.

Integrating Memory for Growth and Healing

Although we all have fond memories of important and happy events in our lives, often we also have painful memories (or memories we aren’t aware of) that can have a detrimental effect on our lives.

In this section parents learn to help children understand and address these memories in a gentle and intentional way.

Integrating the Many Parts of Self

“One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is the ability to understand their own minds, as well as the minds of others.”The Whole-Brain Child

When we teach our kids to pause and reflect on their own state of mind they can make better choices over how they feel and respond to the world around them.

Integrating Self and Other

As children grow it is important for them to build healthy relationships with others. However, it is also important for them to stay true to themselves.

This final section of the book shares ideas for teaching children about the happiness and fulfillment they receive from being connected to others, while still maintaining their unique identity.

Enter to Win a Copy of The Whole-Brain Child WORKBOOK below!

The Whole-Brain Child - Education Possible

Putting the Lessons of The Whole-Brain Child into Action

The topics outlined above are described in detail in The Whole-Brain Child book. The Workbook offers specific steps parents can take to help their children.  The  strategies listed below are exercises and activities parents can use to address challenges they face with their children’s behaviors.

The Whole-Brain Child Workbook includes cartoons, graphs, and illustrations to help describe each strategy.  Questions and examples prompt parents to think about and write down responses to questions as a way to help deepen understanding and make actionable plans for responding to situations with the family.

Two Brains are Better Than One

  • Strategy #1 – Connect and Redirect
  • Strategy #2 – Name it to Tame It

Building the Staircase of the Mind

  • Strategy #3 – Engage Don’t Enrage
  • Strategy #4 – Use It or Lose It
  • Strategy #5 – Move It or Lose It

Integrating Memory for Growth and Healing

  • Strategy #6 – Use the Remote of the Mind
  • Strategy #7 – Remember to Remember

Integrating the Many Parts of Self

  • Strategy #8 – Let the Clouds of Emotion Roll By
  • Strategy#9 – SIFT – What’s Going On Inside
  • Strategy #10 – Exercising Mindsight: Getting Back to the Hub

Integrating Self and Other

  • Strategy #11 – Increase the Family Fun Factory – Making a Point to Enjoy Each Other
  • Strategy #12 – Connection Through Conflict – Teach Kids to Argue with a “We” in Mind

The Whole-Brain Child Workbook - REVIEW - Education Possible

Reasons I Enjoy The Whole-Brain Child Workbook

Flexible Fill-in the Blank

If you read The Whole-Brain Child book you will find explanations of each of the strategies listed and you could figure out ways to put them into practice. For me, however, I find it very helpful to have a workbook-like format to help get the ideas flowing.

Rather than scary blank pages to stare at, the workbook format gives parents examples to follow as a way to spark ideas and identify specific situations from their own lives. The instructions for each exercise are written in a calm, helpful, conversational tone and encourage parents to think of practical examples from recent experiences with their kids.

There is space to write responses to each question/activity but the expectation is that you only need write enough to help get your thoughts together. You are NOT required to journal pages and pages of information (obviously you can if you’d like to) rather the goal is to help you clarify your ideas about your current situation so you can identify how to best move forward.

Practical & Useful for a Variety of Ages

When I first looked at the information about the workbook it claimed to offer “practical, age-specific exercises and activities.” My kids are now teenagers so obviously the help I need now in addressing and dealing with emotions, empathy, memories, etc. is different than what was needed a few years ago.

In reviewing all of the information, I DO find this book extremely helpful in addressing situations with all ages, including my teens.  HOWEVER, it needs to be made clear that in order to best understand what strategies to use to address different ages/situations, parents need to use the book and the workbook together.

The good news – the workbook CAN and SHOULD be used with all ages. There is a helpful chart at the back of The Whole-Brain Child book that explains how to apply the strategies to each age and stage of your child’s growth. However, this chart is NOT repeated in the workbook, so you will want to use the chart from the book and then find the related strategy in the workbook to work through each step.

Another point to keep in mind – each chapter and strategy build on the previous one, but it is OK to skip around as needed.

Teaching Kids About Their Own Brains

By working though the strategies in this book I’ve been able to help my kids and myself better identify how we react to situations and how we can work to respond in healthier ways in the future.  Kids need help identifying their emotions and concerns, and if they begin to work through this process with they are younger they have tools they can use throughout their life.

Here is an example – the first strategy in the workbook is called Connect and Redirect. Remember when your child was young and he fell off a swing and he was upset and crying?  He wasn’t seriously injured, but he was scared and maybe a little frustrated.  Trying to explain to him logically why he shouldn’t cry because he wasn’t physically hurt didn’t help the situation.   He was responding emotionally.  By acknowledging his feelings and offering a hug (connecting to and addressing his concerns first) the hope is that he was able to let his brain settle down enough to see that he was OK.  And after that you might be able to help him figure out what happened so he wouldn’t fall off the swing again.

As my kids are entering the teen years the Connect and Redirect strategy is still needed!  Teens experience a wide range of emotions at this age, and these emotions can be pretty complex.  Even at this age it’s helpful to connect with the right brain first (tone of voice and empathy are what I try to keep in mind) before trying to use the logic of the left brain.  Something I often overlook with the Connect and Redirect strategy is my nonverbal communication.  Teens, however, are very aware of nonverbals!  The chart in The Whole-Brain Child Workbook gave me a great chance to think about how these subtle behaviors affect my kids, including eye contact, facial expressions, tone of voice, timing of response, etc.

Where Can You Find The Whole-Brain Child Workbook?

You can learn more about The Whole-Brain Child Workbook from author Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. in his recent interview with Psychology Today.

You can also learn more about how to use activities in the workbook with kids in this short video from authors Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, PH.D.

A quick and easy way to order The Whole-Brain Child Book and The Whole-Brain Child Workbook is through Amazon:

The Whole-Brain Child  The Whole-Brain Child Workbook

We are also happy to announce a GIVEAWAY of one copy of The Whole-Brain Child Workbook!

This Giveaway is open to residents of the US. A winner will be selected at random by Giveaway Tools and the workbook will be mailed to the winner at the end of the Giveaway. Enter using the Giveaway Tools entry form below:




  1. This looks like a very good book! Thanks for reviewing it.

  2. My biggest parenting challenges–where to start. Two internationally adopted children at age 3.5 (at same time but not biological siblings), lose issues, learning what family means, strong willed (and thankful for that as they are alive today because of that strong will but definitely with issues), learning English, and the list goes on. Eight years later we have made so many strides. My husband and I are truly blessed with the two children that we have. We have a long way to go but we can also see the victories along the journey. Thank you for the review and the giveaway.

  3. My biggest challenges stem from huge personality differences between my two kids.

  4. I could use this with my son who is developmentally delayed and has behavioral issues. He doesn’t understand what behavior is appropriate in which situation or not at all.