What follows are a list of what I consider to be some of the best parenting books available. If I were giving new parents a shopping list of material to start reading, this would be it.
While I call these the “best parenting books,” what they really are is my own list of personal favorites.
There are plenty of parenting books I haven’t read, and there may be disagreement as to what are considered the “best” parenting books. That being said, these books have my highest recommendation. If there is one (or more) that I have left out, feel free to contact me and recommend more. – Eric
Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting
by Dr. Laura Markham
Based on the latest research on brain development and extensive clinical experience with parents, Dr. Laura Markham’s approach is as simple as it is effective. Her message: Fostering emotional connection with your child creates real and lasting change. When you have that vital connection, you don’t need to threaten, nag, plead, bribe—or even punish.
This remarkable guide will help parents better understand their own emotions—and get them in check—so they can parent with healthy limits, empathy, and clear communication to raise a self-disciplined child. Step-by-step examples give solutions and kid-tested phrasing for parents of toddlers right through the elementary years.
If you’re tired of power struggles, tantrums, and searching for the right “consequence,” look no further. You’re about to discover the practical tools you need to transform your parenting in a positive, proven way.
The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children
by Dr. Shefali Tsabary
Instead of being merely the receiver of the parents’ psychological and spiritual legacy, children function as ushers of the parents’ development. Parents unwittingly pass on an inheritance of psychological pain and emotional shallowness. To handle the behavior that results, traditional books on parenting abound with clever techniques for control and quick fixes for dysfunction.
In Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s conscious approach to parenting, however, children serve as mirrors of their parents’ forgotten self. Those willing to look in the mirror have an opportunity to establish a relationship with their own inner state of wholeness. Once they find their way back to their essence, parents enter into communion with their children, shifting away from the traditional parent-to-child “know it all” approach and more towards a mutual parent-with-child relationship. The pillars of the parental ego crumble as the parents awaken to the ability of their children to transport them into a state of presence.
Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason
by Alfie Kohn
Most parenting guides begin with the question “How can we get kids to do what they’re told?” and then proceed to offer various techniques for controlling them. In this truly groundbreaking book, nationally respected educator Alfie Kohn begins instead by asking, “What do kids need—and how can we meet those needs?” What follows from that question are ideas for working with children rather than doing things to them.
One basic need all children have, Kohn argues, is to be loved unconditionally, to know that they will be accepted even if they screw up or fall short. Yet conventional approaches to parenting such as punishments (including “time-outs”), rewards (including positive reinforcement), and other forms of control teach children that they are loved only when they please us or impress us. Kohn cites a body of powerful, and largely unknown, research detailing the damage caused by leading children to believe they must earn our approval. That’s precisely the message children derive from common discipline techniques, even though it’s not the message most parents intend to send.
More than just another book about discipline, though, Unconditional Parenting addresses the ways parents think about, feel about, and act with their children. It invites them to question their most basic assumptions about raising kids while offering a wealth of practical strategies for shifting from “doing to” to “working with” parenting—including how to replace praise with the unconditional support that children need to grow into healthy, caring, responsible people. This is an eye-opening, paradigm-shattering book that will reconnect readers to their own best instincts and inspire them to become better parents.
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk
by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish
The ultimate “parenting bible” (The Boston Globe) with a new foreword—and available as an ebook for the first time—a timeless, beloved book on how to effectively communicate with your child from the #1 New York Times bestselling authors.
Internationally acclaimed experts on communication between parents and children, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish “are doing for parenting today what Dr. Spock did for our generation” (Parent Magazine). Now, this bestselling classic includes fresh insights and suggestions as well as the author’s time-tested methods to solve common problems and build foundations for lasting relationships, including innovative ways to:
- Cope with your child’s negative feelings, such as frustration, anger, and disappointment
- Express your strong feelings without being hurtful
- Engage your child’s willing cooperation
- Set firm limits and maintain goodwill
- Use alternatives to punishment that promote self-discipline
- Understand the difference between helpful and unhelpful praise
- Resolve family conflicts peacefully
Enthusiastically praised by parents and professionals around the world, the down-to-earth, respectful approach of Faber and Mazlish makes relationships with children of all ages less stressful and more rewarding.
The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind
by Daniel J. Siegel
(NY Times Bestseller)
In this pioneering, practical book, Daniel J. Siegel, neuropsychiatrist and author of the bestselling Mindsight, and parenting expert Tina Payne Bryson offer a revolutionary approach to child rearing with twelve key strategies that foster healthy brain development, leading to calmer, happier children.
The authors explain—and make accessible—the new science of how a child’s brain is wired and how it matures. The “upstairs brain,” which makes decisions and balances emotions, is under construction until the mid-twenties. And especially in young children, the right brain and its emotions tend to rule over the logic of the left brain. No wonder kids throw tantrums, fight, or sulk in silence. By applying these discoveries to everyday parenting, you can turn any outburst, argument, or fear into a chance to integrate your child’s brain and foster vital growth.
Complete with age-appropriate strategies for dealing with day-to-day struggles and illustrations that will help you explain these concepts to your child, The Whole-Brain Child shows you how to cultivate healthy emotional and intellectual development so that your children can lead balanced, meaningful, and connected lives.
Parenting Without Power Struggles: Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids While Staying Cool, Calm, and Connected
by Susan Stiffelman
From a family therapist, parenting expert and respected advice columnist for HuffPost Parents comes a unique approach to parenting that can help eliminate drama, meltdowns, and power struggles.
Do you ever find yourself asking . . .
- How can you get your children to do their homework without meltdowns, threats or bribes?
- How can you have a drama-free morning where the kids actually get out the door in time for school?
- How can you better manage your kids’ screen time without making them want to hide what they’re doing from you?
Family therapist Susan Stiffelman is here to help. While most parenting programs are designed to coerce kids to change, Parenting Without Power Struggles does something innovative, showing you how to come alongside your children to awaken their natural instincts to cooperate, rather than at them with threats or bribes, which inevitably fuels their resistance. By staying calm and being the confident “Captain of the ship” your child needs, you will learn how to parent from a place of strong, durable connection, and you’ll be better able to help your kids navigate the challenging moments of growing up.
Drawing upon her successful practice and packed with real-life stories, Parenting Without Power Struggles is an extraordinary guidebook for transforming the day-to-day lives of busy parents—and the children they love.
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