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Positive Parenting: Understanding the Hand Model of the Brain (by Dan Siegel)

Updated: Nov 7

As parents, we all want to raise happy, healthy, and well-adjusted children. However, with so many different parenting styles and techniques out there, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Fortunately, there is a powerful tool that can help us understand our child's behaviour and emotions - the hand model of the brain, developed by Dr. Dan Siegel.


The hand model of the brain


Woman pointing to brain and holding lightbulb, Photo by Andrea Piacquadio:

The hand model of the brain is a simple and visual way of understanding how the different parts of the brain interact with each other. The brain is divided into four main parts - the top, bottom, front, and back. Each part of the brain is responsible for different functions, such as emotion, cognition, and regulation.



The top of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, is responsible for thinking, planning, and decision-making. This is where our "executive function" resides. The bottom of the brain, the limbic system, is responsible for emotion, motivation, and memory. This is where our "emotional regulation" resides. The front of the brain is responsible for attention and empathy. This is where our "social engagement" resides. The back of the brain is responsible for spatial navigation and body awareness. This is where our "sense of self" resides.

It may sound complicated, but there are videos available to help explain it, both for you and your child - links below.


How can I help my child?


Child looking at screen, parent holding model of the brain

To help your child develop a healthy brain, it's important to focus on the positive aspects of each part of the brain. For example, you can help your child develop their thinking skills by encouraging them to solve problems and make decisions. You can help them develop their emotional regulation by teaching them how to calm themselves down when they're upset.


You can help them develop their social engagement by teaching them how to empathize with others. And you can help them develop their sense of self by encouraging them to explore their own interests and passions.


The hand model of the brain is a powerful tool that can help you understand your child's behaviour and emotions. By focusing on the positive aspects of each part of the brain, you can help your child develop a healthy brain and become a happy, well-adjusted person.


Emotional regulation - Step 1

The hand model of the brain is a great tool for parenting - and in particular I use it with clients to help them support their children in putting in place tools for managing their own emotions.

If you want to support your child, then step 1 is to help them understand what happens in their brain when they feel a big emotion. You might want to watch one of these videos together

Next Steps - Parent coaching ?


With the right approach, positive parenting can help you raise a child who is confident, resilient, and ready to take on the world. If you want to know more about how to use the hand model of the brain to support your child, book a chat with me. I'm a Positive Parenting coach, with 8 years of experience behind me. I have lots of tools and can help you find the one that's right for your family.


Not ready for parent coaching? Sign up for my newsletter here, or find me on social media (Facebook or Instagram)

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