When I became a new parent I thought that all the answers were to be found in parenting books. After all, I'd just spent more than 20 years of my life in school, earning an advanced degree so it seemed obvious that I should turn to books for knowledge.
But now, after a full day of parenting, the last thing I want to do is pick up a book that taunts me with all sorts of ideas of how I could have done everything better. If only I hadn't raised my voice... if only I'd spent more time outside... if only I'd fixed a more nutritious meal... if only I'd not yelled so much, if only I'd spent hours playing musical games...
I'm not immune to the parenting book phenomenon. I've read my fair share. Here are some I actually recommend. They won't talk down to you, they won't make you feel guilty. But, they will help.
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The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind. I absolutely LOVE this book. It acknowledges you cannot expect a child to act like a mini grown up. It presents strategies to help your child learn, not how to force him to behave. One thing I really love is that each chapter included a comic strip to read to your child about how he can help himself. A wonderful addition to any parenting library. For extra assistance, there is The Whole-Brain Child Workbook: Practical Exercises, Worksheets and Activities to Nurture Developing Minds.
No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind. This book and includes real life strategies to help you and your children have a more peaceful life. For those of us who don't like time outs (they don't work anyway!) and want to have a healthy relationship with your children based on mutual trust, this book is a must.
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. My friends, let me tell you: the advice in this book works. And I especially appreciated that the authors did not talk down to me.
The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children. Can we all agree that pushing a frustrated child to just "see how their behavior is wrong" does. not. work. at. all.!!!! Even if you don't have an extremely explosive or regularly angry child, the collaborative strategies in this book are incredibly useful.
Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason. Cohn works extensively in the educational arena (his is a big proponent of the no homework philosophy). In this book he challenges parents to stop thinking about disciple in terms of punishments and rewards (sticker charts, anyone?) and instead think critically about what they want their relationship with their children to be like, and how they want their children to view that relationship.
Playful Parenting. Reading Unconditional Parenting can be a frustrating experience for parents who are seeking solid, actionable solutions along with parenting theory. Fortunately, Cohen offers practical tips and suggestions to struggling parents who are looking for alternatives to time outs and counting to three.
The Happiest Baby on the Block. This book is no joke for sleep deprived parents. I'm not saying I was a well-rested parent when my children were infants (I'm still not), but Karp's method of calming your baby is a viable alternative to those to wish to avoid "cry it out".
Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys. Essential reading for parents of boys. Stop saying "boys will be boys" and instead help your boy grow up to understand the importance of recognizing and naming their emotions.
Your Seven-Year-Old. Almost every day I think, "I wonder if other kids act as crazy as mine do? Everyone else seems so normal!" This series of books includes a book for each age of a child's life. It has been indispensable in reassuring me that my fears are not irrational!
Happy parenting! Now get some sleep.