125: Developing the “Yes Brain” in Yourself and Your Kids – with Dan Siegel


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When you’re in a “Yes” brain state, everything seems possible – you’re courageous, resilient, and creative. When you’re in a “No” brain state it’s nearly impossible to learn, grow, or interact in a positive way with others. This yes/no brain state impacts everything you do – how you meet the world, and, if you have children, how you show up as a parent. So how do you cultivate a “Yes” brain state in yourself? How do you teach the children in your life to recognize the signs of being in a “No” brain state – and, even better, show them how to shift back into a “Yes” brain? Today we’re talking with Dr. Dan Siegel, founder of interpersonal neurobiology and co-author (along with Tina Payne Bryson) of the new book “The Yes Brain: How to Cultivate Courage, Curiosity, and Resilience in Your Child.” His strategies for understanding your own reactivity will transform your relationships and your parenting. You can also help the children in your life understand their own emotional world, and show them how to come back online after big emotions get the best of them.


Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host Neil Sattin. How do you show up when there are kids involved? In other words, how do you bring what we know today about attachment and the best way to parent children into the context of your relationship so that whether it’s your own children or you’re entering a relationship where children already exist, you know the best way to show up to help kids interact with you in ways that are positive and to help them have successful outcomes? In other words, have lives where they feel happy and fulfilled and like they really know themselves well. These are the questions that we’re going to cover in today’s episode and we’re going to talk about it in a way that not only gets at the heart of how we parent, but also how we ourselves show up to the equation. So we’re not acting on our children or with our children mechanistically or like behaviorists trying to get them to do the right thing and jump through the right hoop. We’re bringing to bear everything we know about our own emotional makeup and how we interact with the world to help our kids also have positive, alive interactions with the world, ’cause that’s what we’re all about on this show.

Neil Sattin: In order to have this conversation, we’re going to be talking with Dan Siegel, who is returning to the show after his last episode, which was all about mindsight. Today, we’re going to talk about his latest book which is just coming out, co-written with Tina Payne Bryson, called “The Yes Brain: How to Cultivate Courage, Curiosity and Resilience in Your Child.” And I have to laugh at that a little bit only because I feel like on this show we’re often talking about how to cultivate courage, curiosity and resilience in each other and in ourselves in our relationships. So who better to have on this show than Dan Siegel, the father of interpersonal neurobiology, which is at the cutting edge of the science of how we relate and how the way that we relate affects our brains, our biochemistry and our ability to be healthy and alive and effective in the world and not crippled by anxiety or depression or disconnection. So Dan Siegel, thank you so much for joining us again today on Relationship Alive.

Dan Siegel: Neil, it’s an honor to be here with you.

Neil Sattin: Great, great. I think a great place to start is at the end. And I like to start there only because sometimes it helps provide a really nice context for the overall conversation. And by the end, I’m thinking about the end of your book where you start talking about what is it that we’re really after in children? How do we measure success and I’m wondering if you can talk for a moment about the kind of culture clash that’s happening in terms of how we encourage this kind of external success and sometimes we’re missing out on the internal success that The Yes Brain is all about.

Dan Siegel: Well Neil, you’ve picked up on, I think, one of the central issues that Tina Bryson and I really wanted to address in The Yes Brain book and in our work as teachers and clinicians and in our life as parents and partners with our spouses, this idea of thinking deeply about what success is for ourselves and for our kids, is at the heart of a strategy for how you parent because if you’re just going along with what in modern society you hear is a measure of success like what your numbers achievement is, like what kind of elite college you get into, or your bank account alone or the number of cars you have, or these things that you can measure in numerical ways that give us a feeling like, “I could always do more. I don’t have enough fans on my social media page. I didn’t get enough hits when I put out that photograph.” You can always feel like there’s someone who’s doing better than you. We even have a set of circuits in…

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1 Comment

  1. Gifts of Grace 1 says

    "No one does perfect parenting" thank you Dr Siegel for your humility and encouragement! Parenting is not easy, but with the advice given in Siegel and Bryson's books, it makes it more doable, even enjoyable at times 🙂

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