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A Mom and a Dad are reading a book to their toddler. Best parenting books, toddler, kids activities, education.

15 Best Parenting Books to Master Your Parenting Skills

 As a parent, you often have to be available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. You may find yourself doing tasks and overseeing responsibilities that you have never done before. I realized that there’s an ever-evolving list of skills to be mastered. That’s the life of a parent!

Thankfully, parents have been figuring this out since the beginning of time, which means that the wisdom of the past can serve you well if you know where to get it. Parenting books are a great source of knowledge that can make your life much simpler. You’ll still have to face many challenges, but these books can give you some insight on how best to approach them.

Best Parenting Books

A Dad is helping his two kids do their homework. Best parenting books, toddler, kids activities, education.

We compiled the top 15 parenting books with an overview of the parenting genius that is inside, so you can choose the ones that will be helpful for your particular situation. There will be links provided to read through sample pages and if you find one that seems to be a good fit, the ability to get those books into your hands!

As all children are different, the best books for you and your neighbor may not be the same. You might look for tips for an angry child, or perhaps you simply want to know the best ways to handle a toddler. Whatever the reason, your search is worth the effort and we hope that this can shortcut the process significantly to get you back to the real work of parenting.

The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

As a parent, there is a sense of mystery around the development of your kids that can be daunting. “The Whole Brain Child” helps to dispel this by tying together the concepts of how their brains are wired and how that influences and affects their development. Your children’s emotional growth and intellectual development can be encouraged with parenting techniques that take these factors into account. Key highlights include:

  •   How to work through negative life events.
  •   Understanding the power of strong emotions.
  •   Building strong relationships through activities.
  •   How to tie together your kid’s intellectual and emotional development.

No-Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

How can you avoid the inevitable tantrums that come with toddlers? You can’t! That is why you need to learn how to work through them in a way that is healthy and productive. “No Drama Discipline” is a masterclass on how to help your children, and yourself, through meltdowns and tantrums by turning them into learning opportunities.

In the book, they break down the difference between the upstairs brain (receptive) and the downstairs brain (reactive) and how to wait till your child is ready to hear you and be taught through these incidents. They also stress that “Discipline” is not necessarily “Punishment” and that you can grow your relationship with your children in these moments.

The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp

Easily considered one of the best parenting books for toddlers, “The Happiest Toddler on the Block”, provides several key insights that can help parents communicate with and understand their children better, leading to better relationships and stronger bonds. Some of these key points include:

The Fast-Food Rules of Communication. What are these rules?

  • Whoever is the most upset talks first. The other person listens and repeats back what they were told and then gets the chance to say their piece.
  • What you say to an upset person is not as important as how you say it.
  • If you are the one that is the most upset (in case they are in danger, being aggressive or something else) then you go first.

Speak to them in “Toddler-ease” because speaking to a toddler is like speaking to someone who speaks a different language. Toddler-ease includes repetition, saying the same thing 3-8 times over and speaking how they would. Instead of saying “Did that upset you?” you would say, “You’re sad! You’re sad, sad, sad!”

    Communication is key and this book helps you connect with your children in a profound and meaningful way. 

    How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish

    Getting your kids to listen is one of the most challenging parts of the process of raising kids.  It is especially challenging when the children are most in need of what you are trying to tell them: when they are upset. How does “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen” tackle this challenge?

    • Communicate to your kids that you understand and accept their emotions. View the situation from their perspective and make clear statements about how they are feeling. “That box of crayons is difficult to open, isn’t it?”
    • As opposed to dishing out punishments for behavior, try and find solutions through cooperation. Discuss their emotions with them, as well as your own and brainstorm solutions to your problems, looking at all the available solutions suggested and finding the best ones.
    • Give them choices to encourage problem-solving, decision-making and build their self-confidence. Encourage their efforts and actions, not personality traits.

    Parenting with Love and Logic by Charles Fay and Foster Cline

    According to Jim Faye and Charles Faye, there are 2 basic rules in Love and Logic parenting:

    • Adults set firm limits in loving ways without anger, lecture, threats or repeated warnings.

    Set limits using enforceable statements, regard mistakes as learning opportunities, and resist the temptation to nag.

    • When children misbehave and cause problems, adults hand these problems back in loving ways.

      Provide empathy before describing consequences, use few words and more loving actions, delay consequences when necessary, and give kids the gift of owning and solving their problems.

      Empowering your kids with the ability to make certain decisions and allowing them to solve their problems, backed by empathy and love from their parents, lays the foundation for a healthy and well-adjusted childhood.

      The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell

      The Five Love Languages of Children is considered one of the best parenting books for toddler behavior because of its approach of using your children’s love languages (the way in which they receive and perceive love) to keep their “love tanks full” of unconditional love, which makes them easier to teach and makes them more receptive to parental guidance.

       What are the 5 Love languages?

      •   Physical Touch
      •   Acts of Service
      •   Words of Affirmation
      •   Quality Time
      •   Gifts

      By being aware of the emotional needs of your child, you can be sure that they know they are loved and feel loved. Kids that feel this way are more likely to listen and are less likely to lash out.

      The Explosive Child by Ross W. Greene

      When you have an explosive child, the search for parenting books for an angry child begins in earnest. The most challenging part of this dilemma is that most parents want to reason and logic with their children, but it very rarely works. The Explosive Child provides a roadmap for these parents to make real progress with their kids. What does that roadmap look like?

      • Understand and identify if their kids are having challenges with basic skills.
      • Reframe the way you look at problems for better outcomes.
      • Use empathy to understand their children’s emotions.
      • Brainstorm solutions with your kids.
      • Clarify with the family (siblings, grandparents, etc.) the changes surrounding the explosive child and why they are important.

      Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne

      If dealing with the pressures and pace of life can be challenging for adults, imagine what it is like for a child. Humans evolved in radically different circumstances than today’s children find themselves and the abundance of stimulation can be too much for kids, leading to outbursts or behavioral challenges.

      One of the best parenting books for toddlers is “Simplicity Parenting” which helps kids grow and learn at the right pace. How does this approach help them do this?

      • Detoxify their environment and simplify their surroundings.
      • Don’t let the abundance of toys be an issue. Drastically reduce the number of toys so your kids use their imaginations more and spend less time with useless toys.
      • Kids want predictability so create daily patterns that they can predict and expect.
      • Don’t overschedule your kids.
      • Let your kids be kids! Reduce the number of screens to distract them

      The Power of Showing Up by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

      Not all parenting books are created equal and The Power of Showing Up sheds light on the power you have as a parent to show up and be present with and for your kids. This leads to strong and healthy bonds, developed by the 4 S’s. What are the 4 S’s?

      • Safe: Parents must do 2 things. Keep their kids safe and help them feel safe.
      • Seen: Your children feel seen when you are present with them, work to understand how they feel and react appropriately.
      • Soothed: When children are upset, parents can help soothe them by empathizing and being present in their pain. This process will help them learn how to soothe themselves.
      • Secure: Security in our kids is the natural by-product of the presence of the other 3 S’s.

      The Montessori Toddler by Simone Davies

      Parenting books for toddlers are rarely as powerful as “The Montessori Toddler”, which gives the reader practical tips to help their children learn through experience and discovery all while developing their independence.

      The Four C’s of the Montessori Method are:

      •   Critical Thinking
      •   Collaboration
      •   Creativity
      •   Communication

      These pillars are the foundation for the process of laying out the environment so that your kids can learn and grow through experience and also lays out tips to create boundaries for your children without the use of penalties or threats!

      1-2-3 Magic by Thomas W. Phelan

      1-2-3 Magic can help those parents that are looking for an effective way to be a good parent to a toddler and is often referred to as one of the best parenting books for toddlers available. Using a simple process to reduce whining and nagging through clear directions and known consequences, this approach provides simple tools for parents to use in their day-to-day lives.

      How does 1-2-3 Magic work? 

      • Part 1: Thinking Straight (wrapping your head around assumptions about behavior)
      • Part 2: Controlling Obnoxious Behavior
      • Part 3: Managing Testing and Manipulation
      • Part 4: Encouraging Good Behavior
      • Part 5: Strengthening Your Relationship with Your Children
      • Part 6: Enjoying Your New Life

      The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers by Elizabeth Pantley

      Putting a child to bed, especially a toddler, can be an exercise in patience and restraint for many parents. There is no need to struggle through the final portion of your day with your toddlers! The No-Cry Sleep Solution provides the outline for regular, healthy and cry-less (for the most part) sleeps. How does it work?

      • Maintain consistent bedtimes seven days a week.
      • Encourage regular daily naps.
      • Set your child’s biological clock.
      • Develop a consistent bedtime routine.
      • Create a cozy sleep environment.
      • Provide the right nutrition to improve sleep.
      • Help your child be healthy and fit.
      • Teach your child how to relax and fall asleep.

      Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Dr. Laura Markham

      In an ideal world, there would be no power struggles between children and their parents. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence in the homes of millions of people. Another one of the best books for parenting toddler behavior is “Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids.

      The three big concepts of this book are: 

      •   Regulating Yourself
      •   Fostering Connection
      •   Coaching, Not Controlling

      Instead of changing a child’s behavior, the author suggests that if the parents change how they react, the children’s behavior will change by default in the direction they want it to go. Parents can “put the peace back into parenting”, creating a calmer atmosphere to live in.

      Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman

      John Gottman did a beautiful job of putting together an easy-to-understand, step-by-step approach to “Raising and Emotionally Intelligent Child”. He lays out a 5-step process where parents can be “emotion coaches” for their children. How does this happen?

      1. Become aware of your child’s emotions.
      1. Recognize emotion as an opportunity for intimacy and teaching.
      1. Listen empathetically, validating your child’s feelings.
      1. Help the child to find the words to label the emotion they are feeling.
      1. Set limits while exploring strategies to solve the problem at hand.

      This framework helps children develop their emotional intelligence and will draw you closer to your children as they learn these skills.

      Parenting from the Inside Out by Daniel J. Siegel and Mary Hartzell

      The experiences of your past play an important role in how you raise your children even though you likely don’t even realize it. As parents, our emotional reactions to our children’s behavior can often be linked to our own childhoods and understanding this effect is critical to being able to effectively parent our kids.

      Parenting from the Inside Out” is best summarized by this quote from the book. “Children try to understand and make sense of their experiences. Telling your kids about an experience can help integrate both the events and the emotional content of that experience.”

      • Resolve and make sense of your own childhood experiences to be a better parent and not repeat the mistakes of your parents.
      • Process early childhood experiences.
      • Mindfulness and intention in actions.
      • Lifelong learning.
      • Response flexibility.
      • Mindsight.
      • Joyful living.

      There is no “Best Path” to Being a Great Parent

      A Mom and a Dad are sitting on the couch with their son and their dog. Best parenting books, toddler, kids activities, education.

      The truth is that all children and their relationships with their parents are unique. The advice offered in these books is only advice and while it could be considered for your family, only adopt the practices that best suit you. While there are many paths available, in the end it is the journey, not the destination, that matters when raising a family.

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      Hi! I'm Cali, Founder of Cali's Books

      “I’ve loved books since childhood and wanted to transmit this enthusiasm to my children”

      I'm a mom of two young children who trained as an engineer and worked in investment banking and at Disney. A French of Caribbean origin (Martinique to be precise!), I grew up in Paris. Los Angeles is now the place I call home!

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