The Yes Brain Book Review: How To Make Your Child Live A Life Of BRIE (Not Cheese)

The Yes Brain is a phenomenal book by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson.

In this post we’ll review why you should understand the logic behind having The Yes Brain.

When you understand the psychology behind this book, it’ll help you parent and communicate better with anyone.

The book is written to show you how to cultivate courage, curiosity, and resilience within your child.

After reading it through, I learned that understanding when someone is in “The Yes Brain” vs. “The No Brain” state can benefit all of us in all areas of life.

What is The Yes Brain

When we have a Yes Brain we’re more willing to take chances in life.

People overall are considered to be more curious, imaginative and adaptive to what life tosses their way (good or bad).

Individuals who demonstrate a Yes Brain are (think FACES):

  • Flexible
  • Adaptive
  • Coherent
  • Energized
  • Stable

When someone’s in this state, it’s much easier to parent, communicate and discipline when needed.

Dr. Daniel J. Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson point out that in this state, we’re more “receptive” to life.

The opposite of having a Yes Brain is a No Brain (no pun intended).

What is a No Brain

Opposite of a “Yes Brain”, a “No Brain” is in a much more reactive state.

Individuals in a “No Brain” state experience the 4 F’s:

  • Fight
  • Flight
  • Freeze
  • Faint

During this state, individuals have more anger, fear, sadness and feel the world on their shoulders.

Trying to communicate with someone in this state (your child) becomes extremely difficult.

They’ll feel threatened and much less calm.

The nervous system of the body is activated and the individual shuts down their ability to connect with others and themselves.

This is why trying to parent, discipline or communicate when someone is in a “No Brain” state is useless.

So what can a parent do and how does one even know what state someone’s in?

Glad you asked and it’s the premise of the book and living a live of BRIE (no, not the cheese Milo).

How To Make Your Child Live A Life Of BRIE

If you haven’t yet noticed, they love using acronyms to remember everything.

BRIE (think cheese) stands for:

  • Balance
  • Resilient
  • Insightful
  • Empathic

This is the path to having a Yes Brain state, one that is openminded and ready to say yes to challenges life tosses their way.

When someone’s in a No Brain state as mentioned above, the nervous system is heightened. Individuals are in a Red-Zone as Daniel and Tina share in the book. Trying to rationalize or parent isn’t going to work (especially if you slip into a red-zone).

For example, have you ever seen a friend’s child having a melt-down (we know ours don’t)?

It doesn’t matter what you say, they’re screaming and enraged. If you continue to challenge them, it goes nowhere and eventually you’re in a red-zone (a No Brain state).

Trying to discipline from this mindset isn’t productive and only leads to actions or words we wish we didn’t say (or childishly rationalize they made us act that way).

The goal of discipline, ultimately, is to teach self-discipline, and when we can’t practice it ourselves, it does the child and you no good.

Remember, as we pointed out in the book review of The 5-Second Rule for Kids, the brain isn’t fully developed yet when it comes to decision making.

Our brain, though, as adults should be developed (I hope). 

Thus if we begin to feel we’re slipping out of Yes Brain, we should check in with ourselves.

How do you check in with your Balance?

Think of the acronym SIFT by trying to pay attention to:

  • Sensations: What sensations are you feeling, more Red-Zone or Green-Zone (Think FACES: Flexible, Adaptive, Coherent, Energized, Stable)
  • Images: What images are you seeing
  • Feeling: How are you feeling
  • Thoughts: What thoughts are going through your mind?

By checking in with yourself on these 5 different points, you can quickly assess what zone you’re in.

This is all part of BRIE and by you practicing it first, you can demonstrate it to your child.

What is BRIE [not cheese]

In the example above you’re practicing BRIE yourself.

How you ask?

You are being “insightful” that your “balance” or child’s “balance” is off.

If you’re in a “Green-Zone” you can now practice “resilience” by being receptive that you’re out of balance and work towards bringing everything back to balance.

You may be asking yourself then, where the heck does “empathy” come into play?

When your child, co-worker or significant other is in a “No Brain” state and you show understanding for how they feel, you’re being empathic.

Remember, what you do as a parent is more important than what you say.

If you want to raise an empathic child, you need to show them empathy, and let them know you understand their feelings .

This doesn’t mean that you don’t Parent or Discipline your child, you just don’t do it when they’re in a Red-Zone “No Brain” state. You need to make the environment feel safe and then when they’re back in the Yes Brain state, that’s when parenting takes place.

Doing this helps you cultivate your child’s brain strength and done repeatably teaches them.

When they’re back in that Yes Brain state, you can also teach them SIFT from above.

By learning to be self-aware of how you feel (and others) this helps develop Emotional Intelligence in children (increasing EQ).

Conclusion of The Yes Brain Book Review

Having a Yes-Brain approach to life, both as a parent or child, can help you live a life of courage, curiosity and you’ll simply enjoy life more.

Cultivating these skills of balance, resilience, insightfulness and empathy can be learned by anyone  (adult or child).

These skills can help your child engage with the world in a much more meaningful way and take on life’s adversities in stride. They’ll be able to handle their emotions with self-control and show empathy to how others are also feeling.

This doesn’t happen overnight but becomes a trained habit with practice.

Parenting is tough.

We all bounce back and forth between Yes-Brain and No-Brain states moment to moment, and when you have multiple children, even more so.

Just remember to be observant by practicing SIFT and if you feel yourself off balance, go for a walk or be silent for a few.

Pull yourself back into the Green Zone and the Yes Brain state by being resilient.

The impact this practice will have on your life and child’s, is tremendous and you’ll all live a life of joy.

About The Author

Michael Kawula

I’m a husband and father of 3 amazing children. For the last 20-Years I’ve been a serial entrepreneur. My goal is to help parents empower all our children to achieve their inner greatness.I’m an author, Inc. 500 featured Company, have been interviewed by Anthony Robbins, CNN and featured in over 100 publications over the last few years.