The Whole-Brain Child: Connect and Redirect

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This week our Book Group read Chapter 2 of, The Whole-Brain Child, Two Brains are Better Than One: Integrating the Left and the Right.  The authors explained the differences in the right and left sides of the brain, and the importance of helping our children integrate them.  They gave a fantastic explanation of the two hemispheres of the brain and how they function, that I recommend you read, but in the simplest terms, the left brain loves order and details, while the right brain cares about the big picture.  I like this quote,

“…the left brain cares about the letter of the law…As you know, as kids get older they get really good at using this left-brain thinking: ‘I didn’t shove her!  I pushed her.’ The right brain, on the other hand, cares about the spirit of the law, the emotions and experiences of relationships.  The left focuses on the text — the right is about the context.”

When my children come to me emotionally upset (functioning in their right brain), I am inclined to immediately begin solving the problem (left brain).  The authors urge parents to connect with the child’s right brain by engaging emotionally and feeling what the child is feeling.  Once we’re attuned we can truly listen, letting the child tell the story of what happened, and then begin solving the problem, which engages the left brain.  They call this strategy Connect and Redirect; connect with the right brain, then redirect to the left.

I’ve been thinking about this over the week and trying to apply it to interactions with my children, taking the time to emotionally connect before solving the immediate problem.  There is so much going on in my home that I have a hard time stopping to truly listen and connect emotionally.  This week Little Man came to me very upset and angry after a confrontation with Eby.  I pulled him onto my lap and said, “You seem very upset.”  “I am,” he replied, “Eby is a meanie and I don’t like him!”  I asked him to tell me what had happened and let him tell the story sequentially (engaging his left brain), then I said, “How can we solve this problem?,” and together we bridged between his right and left brain.

We want our children to learn how to manage their emotions and solve conflicts.  We want them to have the ability to consider new and creative ways of viewing problems and solutions.  We don’t do this by simply shutting them down and saying, “You two boys get along or you’re taking a nap!”  Although that is tempting, and I’ll admit to having said those exact words, it does not encourage optimal development.

This strategy reminds me of Karyn Purvis’ teaching of Connecting While Correcting, which makes me think of offering choices, and encouraging our children to ask for compromises – all of which gets me very excited about my children’s brains and how amazing God is.  He created us to be complex and fascinating.

If you would like to join our Book Group, you can find a link on my One Thankful Mom Facebook page (scroll down), or email me at and I’ll send you an invitation.  Discussion questions for chapter 2 will be posted this evening.

Reflections on other chapters:

My reflections on Chapter 1: The River of Well-Being

My reflections on Chapter 2: Connect and Redirect

My reflections on Chapter 3: Three Steps to Regain Control

My reflections on Chapter 4: Memory – I Cried and Nobody Came

My reflections on Chapter 5: Feelings Come and Go

My reflections on Chapter 6: Why Fun Truly Matters


This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Cathy B
    November 1, 2012

    Thanks to your suggestion, I checked out this book at our local public library. It has been a great help already. So agree about the good reminder to emotionally connect. Since I have applied it a few times with my own two (adopted) kids, it has defused some of the usual outburts allowing them to have “voice” as Dr. Purvis writes about in her book.

  2. Rebecca
    November 1, 2012

    I've heard of this book in passing, but after reading your post I will be checking it out! Thank you! ~ Rebecca

  3. Joelle
    November 2, 2012

    I tend to have the opposite problem. I tend to do ok connecting with the emotional side of things but am weak in moving on to finding solutions. Any suggestions?


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