Is there anything better than those moments where you snuggle your baby in a rocking chair before softly putting them to bed? Or cuddling with a chatty toddler on the couch on a snowy afternoon?
But some parenting moments are much less pleasant and can have you tearing out your hair, wondering when the real parent is going to show up and deal with these difficult scenarios.
One reason I love books to help me in my parenting is that the book isn’t biased toward my child (either positively or negatively) – if you ask a friend or family member or teacher for advice, they may be inclined to give you advice that’s skewed based on their relationship with your child.
Whether you’re just starting to see early signs of having a spirited child or you’re worn down by the daily frustrations of strong-willed offspring, these eight books are wonderful for helping you make the most of your relationship with your child and guide them in growing into functional, fantastic teenagers and adults.
- Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting by Dr. Laura Markham. If you feel like all you do is yell at your child (and haven’t we all had those days or weeks or months?), this book can help you bring a new normal to your family. She focuses more on the parent, helping you understand your own emotions and how to control them so you can parent better. And once you forge a better connection with your child, you won’t have to pull out the threats, bribes, or punishments. This book focuses specifically on toddler through elementary school-aged children.
- Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. Voted one of the top twenty parenting books on Amazon, this title is great for helping you see your spirited child in a more positive light and recognize that their spirited tendencies usually lead to very successful, able adults – if you can survive their childhood. I really appreciate that this book focuses on specific areas that tend to be high-conflict, like bedtime, mealtime, and homework. And if you love this one, check out her book Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles: Winning for a Lifetime too.
- Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child: Eliminating Conflict by Establishing CLEAR, Firm, and Respectful Boundaries by Robert J. Mackenzie. Think of this book as your parenting toolbox. Sometimes it feels like your only two options as a parent are punishment or permissiveness, but Mackenzie gives you dozens of ways to handle the problems that come along with having a strong-willed child so that you can motivate your child properly and help them behave at home, school, and play.
- Parenting the Strong-Willed Child: The Clinically Proven Five-Week Program for Parents of Two- to Six-Year-Olds by Rex Forehand and Nicholas Long. If you’re at your wits end, start here. This book will walk you through hands-on ways to deal with your strong-willed child and improve your home life. I particularly love that this book discusses specific factors that lead to disruptive behavior and then given strategies for managing very specific behavior issues. This edition also has a really helpful section about how to work with your child’s teachers to make sure you’re giving a united discipline front.
- Kids Are Worth It!: Giving Your Child The Gift Of Inner Discipline by Barbara Coloroso. We all want a quick solution to behavior problems, but parenting is definitely a long game. This book focuses on self-discipline and how to help your child develop it (although, you’ll probably pick up a few tips for yourself too). There’s almost nothing you could teach your child that would better serve her than how to be self-disciplined.
- Parenting a Child Who Has Intense Emotions: Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills to Help Your Child Regulate Emotional Outbursts and Aggressive Behavior by Pat Harvey and Jeanine Penzo. If you see other children handling disappointments or issues that would make your child collapses in a sobbing (or screaming!) heap in the grocery store aisle, this book will help you and your child deal with those intense emotions. Using strategies from behavior therapy, you’ll be able to practice them in both cool and hot situations. No promises that you’ll never have another public meltdown on your hands, but you’ll at least have the tools to deal with it better than threatening to leave them alone in the grocery store.
- Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason by Alfie Kohn. Your child desperately wants to be loved, no matter how they’re behaving, and this book turns much of conventional parenting on its head because it teaches children that their parents only really love them when they please those parents. Kohn helps parents step away from discipline that indicates to children they need to earn love and instead teaches parents to work with their children, offering unconditional support, to help raise emotionally healthy and responsible adults. and unconditional support that children need to grow into healthy, caring, responsible people.
- The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children by Ross W. Greene. If you are worn out by constantly dealing with a child that can’t deal with any variation in routine or unexpected surprises, this book can help your whole family. Greene starts with the factors that lead to these episodes (and shows you when those episodes are most likely to occur), and then gives you the tools to reduce those outbursts proactively with your child by solving the problems that are causing them in the first place. Not only will your child be more flexible and able to handle their frustrations, but it can also significantly reduce the friction between you and your child. And who wouldn’t want that? And if your child’s frustration is causing problems at school, you may want to take a peek at Lost at School: Why Our Kids with Behavioral Challenges are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help Them.
If you have recommendations for books that have helped you parent your child, I’d love to hear them in the comments!
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