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15 Insightful Parenting Books That Help Your Kids Start off a Healthy Life

15 Insightful Parenting Books That Help Your Kids Start off a Healthy Life

It wasn’t that long ago when the only resource that parents could reliably turn to were books. Nowadays, flipping through a book may not be most parents’ first instinct when looking for parenting advice.

Instant access to blogs, websites, and forums provide multitudes of answers and “expert opinions,” which can either be helpful or contradicting and overwhelming. Books are still a valuable resource when it comes to parenting. Just because information is printed in a book does not mean it is infallible.

However, it is much easier to find reliable reviews and criticisms of published works from reputable sources than of websites or blogs.

The following parenting books discuss topics about parenting that start at conception and cover all the way to young adulthood.

Whether you are looking for advice about disciplining your toddler, how to parent your spirited child, or cross-cultural parenting techniques, you will find everything you need in this list:

1. Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong – and What You Really Need to Know, by Emily Oster

    Parents are able to influence the development of their child the moment they are conceived, through factors such as the mother’s diet, the home environment, and secondhand smoke.

    There are countless activities that pregnant women are told can have a positive or negative impact on the baby, from eating sushi to prenatal yoga. But which of these are based on scientific evidence and which are just hearsay?

    Expecting Better delves into these widespread pregnancy beliefs and produces statistics and facts that spell out the actual risk associated with each. The book is laid out by in chronological order, from conception to delivery, and describes many of the most common worries that expectant mothers have.

    The overarching message of the book is that there is no right or wrong answer for anything when it comes to pregnancy.

    Get the book here!

    2. The Science of Mom: A Research-Based Guide to Your Baby’s First Year, by Alice Callahan

      This book addresses many of the questions that new mother have about their babies in the first six months of their lives. Many controversial topics are addressed, such as vaccines, breastfeeding, and sleep.

      The author has a PhD in nutrition and writes in detail about the types of food to introduce to your babies early on to meet all of their dietary needs. A variety of scientific studies are used throughout the book to serve as support for the author’s opinions, and Callahan also explains how the average person can discern the validity of studies and their claims.

      Get the book here!

      3. No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame, by Janet Lansbury

        As a new parent, it can seem like your tiny baby grows into a toddler overnight, and a new element of parenting is suddenly required – discipline. Not only are your little ones gaining mobility and independence, they are also developing their own personalities and trying to figure out how to navigate this confusing world.

        As an RIE teacher with over 20 years of hands on experience helping parents and their toddlers, Janet Lansbury is an expert in this field. This book is compilation of her most popular and widely read articles that she first published on her own website.

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        The articles cover a wide range of topics, including tantrums, hitting, boundaries, and more. If you are struggling to find effective ways to discipline your tenacious toddler, this book might be just what you need.

        Get the book here!

        4. Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic, by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

          All kids are NOT created equally. Some children are born with a natural tendency to be more strong-willed, and it is not at all a reflection of the way they have been parented. However, it does make parenting a more difficult task and can often leave parents feeling like they are doing something wrong.

          This book recognizes that these children need a slightly different approach and give parents strategies on how to deal with challenging situations, such as bedtime, mealtimes, sibling rivalry, school, and more.

          Rather than viewing the intensity of these children as obstacles, Kurcinka teaches parents how to re-frame their thinking to see the positive components of their behavior. It’s crucial that parents try to understand why their children are behaving the way they are and this book gives you tools to nurture challenging kids successfully.

          Get the book here!

          5. Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times, by Zoe Weil

            Living in a society where senseless violence and animosity have become the new normal, the task of raising a kind and loving child can seem almost impossible. But what the world needs now, more than ever, are compassionate people who care about the environment, other living species, and all people.

            Weil advises parents on how to guide their children towards living a more humane life, but most importantly, living their own as a message and an example. All age groups are included, from the early years all the way to young adulthood, and activities, important issues, tips, and more are discussed for each.

            The four elements that Weil emphasizes in raising human children are providing information, teaching critical thinking, instilling reverence, respect, and responsibility, and offering positive choices. Being kind is not synonymous with grand gestures. The little things people do on a daily basis will make the biggest difference.

            Get the book here!

            6. The Whole Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, by Daniel J. Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson

              When your children decide to throw tantrums because you wouldn’t let them ride in the shopping cart standing up, are they doing that just to embarrass you in public and make you look like an incompetent parent?

              Not at all!

              They are simply adjusting to their rapidly developing minds and coming to terms with their desires and the parameters within which they must live. They are allowing their emotions to take over because they are not equipped to tackle the situation in a more rational manner.

              Siegel, a neuropsychiatrist, and Bryson, a parenting expert, teamed up to decode the complexities of the young developing mind to give you 12 strategies to transform challenging emotionally driven reactions into opportunities to help your children cultivate healthy development and productive behaviors for life.

              Get the book here!

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              7. Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, by Rebecca Eanes

                There are too many parenting books out there to read them all! Which ones are worth reading and which techniques are the most effective?

                Eanes does not claim to be a parenting “expert” but rather, a real mom, fully entrenched in the joy and hardships of parenthood. This book is the culmination of the parenting techniques she learned that actually worked for her family throughout the years, repackaged in an easy to ready format.

                The first half focuses solely on the parent and provides many tips on how to work on our response and emotions and increasing self-awareness before engaging with our children. She also includes many suggestions, techniques, and discussion questions to help you move from theory to practice.

                So often, children are punished for being human. They are not allowed to have grumpy moods, bad days, disrespectful tones, or bad attitudes. Yet, we adults have them all the time. None of us are perfect. We must stop holding our children to a higher standard of perfection than we can attain ourselves.

                Get the book here!

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

                  It can be easy for parents to yell and lash out when their kids are having a meltdown for seemingly frivolous reasons. However, it’s important to remember that young kids need to be heard and understood, and they are expressing themselves in the only way they know how.

                  This book helps parents to navigate the complicated but fragile methods of communication with their children that will tremendously impact their behavior and development.

                  It’s crucial that parents acknowledge the feelings that their children are feeling and show them that they understand, before setting out to try to resolve the issue. Their feelings are valid and important and need to be expressed.

                  Another point that is emphasized is to make correcting behavior about the behavior and not about the child. Changing the way parents talk to their children will lay a much stronger foundation for communication and improve the parent-child relationship tremendously.

                  Get the book here!

                  9. Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids, by Kim John Payne

                    A growing trend towards minimalist living has many families purging their closets, downsizing their homes and going against the consumerist culture that advertising and the media promotes. This mindset can also be applied to parenting.

                    Children do not need packed schedules full of activities or toy boxes filled to the brim. They also don’t need their parents to worry and obsess about their every move. To help parents adopt this more simplistic mindset, Payne gives suggestions such as streamlining your environment, establishing rhythms and rituals, scheduling breaks, scaling back on media, and lessening parental involvement.

                    Don’t overwhelm your children with too many choices and then step back to allow them to grow into the people they are meant to become more independently.

                    Get the book here!

                    10. Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting, by Dr. Laura Markham

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                      They say that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. This mantra is true in many facets of life.

                      Parents have a better chance of fostering deep, genuine relationships with their children if they use techniques that focus on love, compassion, empathy, and gentleness, rather than fear, strict rules, and discipline.

                      Markham guides parents to get in touch with and master their own emotions, so that they can parent with empathy, open communication, and healthy limits, encouraging children to be self-disciplined and accountable for their own actions.

                      “What matters most: Stay connected and never withdraw your love, even for a moment. The deepest reason kids cooperate is that they love you and want to please you. Above all, safeguard your relationship with your child. That’s your only leverage to have any influence on your child. It’s what your child needs most. And that closeness is what makes all the sacrifices of parenting worth it.”

                      Get the book here!

                      11. NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children, by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman

                        In contrast to typical parenting books, this book contradicts many commonly held beliefs about what is best for children and uses current social science studies as evidence for a new way of thinking.

                        For example, several studies showed that kids who are commonly threatened with punishment lie more frequently and get better at doing it. Another chapter talks about the fact that when white parents don’t talk about the issue of race or bring attention to it, kids tend to form their own (racist) opinions about people who look different from them.

                        Although some claims are lacking in details and specifics about how to tangibly apply it parenting practices, there is a lot of useful and surprising information to be gleaned from this book.

                        Get the book here!

                        12. Playful Parenting, by Lawrence J. Cohen

                          According to Cohen, kids misbehave because they feel disconnected from their parents and not heard. They act out in order to get attention, even if it is negative attention.

                          The best way to connect with kids is to speak the language they know best – playing. Frequent physical constant and being willing to play the fool are two key strategies that are emphasized in the book. Kids are made to feel foolish so often in their lives, when they are constantly being told what to do and being corrected.

                          When the tables are turned, kids are able to see their parents in a more relatable light.

                          Get the book here!

                          13. Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child’s True Potential, by Eileen Kennedy-Moore & Mark S. Lowenthal

                            For kids who can be categorized as gifted or bright, different parenting techniques may be required in order to help these children achieve their highest potential, without feeling pressured.

                            The four essential components of smart parenting are laid out: a compassionate ability to view the world through our children’s eyes, the confidence to set judicious limits, a commitment to turn toward our children more often than away, and faith in our children’s ability to grow and learn.

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                            In additional, seven fundamental challenges are addressed in great detail: tempering perfectionism, building connection, managing sensitivity, handling cooperation and competition, dealing with authority, developing motivation, and finding joy.

                            If these are topics that resonate with you, this may be a helpful resource to help you help your kids succeed.

                            Get the book here!

                            14. Beyond the Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age, by Maya Thiagarajan

                              After the massive success of the honest and confrontational book describing strict Chinese parenting techniques in practice, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua, a massive debate was ignited, comparing Eastern and Western parenting styles.

                              Which approach is better and more effective? Why do Asian students do so well in math and science?

                              Thiagarajan is uniquely qualified to address these questions because of her personal experience growing up in India, and teaching in both the U.S. and Singapore. She explains the advantages and pitfalls of both methods of parenting and gives specific tips in a “How To” section in each chapter to aid Asian and Western parents in education and development both in and out of the classroom.

                              Get the book here!

                              15. The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline, by L.R. Knost

                                Many parents who are currently raising young kids did not grow up in a household where gentle parenting took place. Yelling, corporal punishment, and threats were commonly used means of discipline for many decades.

                                Knost presents an alternative way of parenting – a gentle way – that is still as effective, if not more so. She explains the importance of treating children as people, with respect and one-another-love (Golden Rule).

                                This book is centered around the implementation of the three C’s of gentle discipline – Connection, Communication, and Cooperation.

                                Some suggestions for tools that parents can utilize in the place of yelling or aggression in include: prevention, remind and redirect, silliness, modeling, and teaching empathy.

                                “Yelling silences your message. Speak quietly so your children can hear your words, not just your voice.”

                                Get the book here!

                                Final thoughts

                                Being a good parent is a complicated and difficult challenge to take on.

                                Many of us are still holding onto to mistakes that our parents made with us when we were kids, vowing not to do the same to our own children. But no parent is perfect, and everyone will inevitably get something wrong.

                                These books are here to provide some guidance in tackling this impossible task. They have helped countless other parents in helping to communicate, understand, and relate to their children, so it may be worthwhile to give them a chance.

                                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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                                Katie Lemons

                                Parenting Blogger and Full-Time Working Mom

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                                Last Updated on August 22, 2019

                                14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

                                14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

                                According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 27% of children under the age of 18 are living with a single parent.[1] That’s over 1/4th of the U.S. population.There is a common misconception that children who grow up in single parent homes are not as successful as children living in two-parent homes.

                                One crucial detail that was often left out of studies when comparing single and two-parent homes was the stability of the household. There is a correlation between family structure and family stability, but this study shows that children who grow up in stable single-parent homes do as well as those in married households in terms of academic abilities and behavior.

                                But providing stability is easier said than done. With only one adult to act as a parent, some tasks are inherently more challenging. However, there are a few helpful things you can do to make the parenting journey a little easier for yourself and stay sane while doing it.

                                1. Don’t Neglect Self-Care

                                Before anything else can be done, you must be caring for your own needs adequately. Only when you are feeling well-rested and healthy can you be at your best for your children.

                                Many parents tend to put their kids’ needs first and their owns last, but that will result in a never-ending cycle of exhaustion and feelings of inadequacy. Make time to eat regularly and healthfully, get plenty of rest, and squeeze in exercise whenever you can. Even a short walk around the neighborhood will help your body get much-needed movement and fresh air.

                                Your children depend on you, and it’s up to you to make sure that you are well-equipped and ready to take on that responsibility.

                                2. Join Forces with Other Single Parents

                                At times, it may seem like you’re the only person who knows what it’s like to be a single parent. However, the statistics say that there are many others who know exactly what you’re going through.

                                Find single parents locally, through your kid’s school, extracurricular activities, or even an app. There are also numerous online communities that can offer support and advice, through Facebook or sites like Single Mom Nation.

                                Although single moms make up the majority of single parents, there are more than 2.6 million single dads in the U.S. A great way to connect is through Meetup. Other single parents will more than happy to arrange babysitting swaps, playdates, and carpools.

                                Join forces in order to form mutually beneficial relationships.

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                                3. Build a Community

                                In addition to finding support with other single parents, also build a community comprised of families of all different types. Rather than focus solely on the single parent aspect of your identity, look for parents and kids who share other things in common.

                                Join a playgroup, get plugged in at a church, or get to know the parents of the kids involved in the same extracurricular activities. Having a community of a variety of people and families will bring diversity and excitement into your and your kids’ lives.

                                4. Accept Help

                                Don’t try to be a superhero and do it all yourself. There are probably people in your life who care about you and your kids and want to help you. Let them know what types of things would be most appreciated, whether it’s bringing meals once a week, helping with rides to school, or giving you time to yourself.

                                There is no shame in asking for help and accepting assistance from loved ones. You will not be perceived as weak or incompetent. You are being a good parent by being resourceful and allowing others to give you a much-needed break.

                                5. Get Creative with Childcare

                                Raising a child on a single income is a challenge, with the high cost of daycares, nannies, and other conventional childcare services. More affordable options are possible if you go a less traditional route.

                                If you have space and live in a college town, offer a college student housing in exchange for regular childcare. Or swap kids with other single parents so that your kids have friends to play with while the parents get time to themselves.

                                When I was younger, my parents had a group of five family friends, and all of the children would rotate to a different house each day of the week, during the summer months. The kids would have a great time playing with each other, and the parents’ job becomes a lot easier. That’s what you would call a win-win situation.

                                6. Plan Ahead for Emergencies

                                As a single parent, a backup plan or two is a must in emergency situations. Make a list of people you know you can call in a moment’s notice. There will be times in which you need help, and it’s important to know ahead of time who you can rely on.

                                Look into whether or not your area offers emergency babysitting services or a drop-in daycare. Knowing who will be able to care for your child in the event of an emergency can relieve one potential source of anxiety in stressful situations.

                                7. Create a Routine

                                Routines are crucial for young children because knowing what to expect gives them a semblance of control. This is even more important when in a single parent home.

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                                If the child travels between homes or has multiple caretakers, life can seem extremely chaotic and unpredictable. Establish a routine and schedule for your child as much as possible. This can include bedtime, before/after school, chores, meal times, and even a weekend routine.

                                Having a routine does not mean things cannot change. It is merely a default schedule to fall back on when no additional events or activities are going on. When your children know what to expect, they will be less resistant because they know what to expect, and days will run much more smoothly.

                                8. Be Consistent with Rules and Discipline

                                If your child has multiple caretakers, such as another parent, grandparent, or babysitter, communicate clearly on how discipline will be handled. Talk to your ex, if you are sharing custody, as well as any other caretakers about the rules and the agreed-upon approach to discipline.

                                When a child realizes that certain rules can be bent with certain people, he/she will use it to their advantage, causing additional issues with limits, behavior, and discipline down the road.

                                This article may help you to discipline your child better:

                                How to Discipline a Child (The Complete Guide for Different Ages)

                                9. Stay Positive

                                Everyone has heard the saying, “Mind over matter.” But there really is so much power behind your mentality. It can change your perspective and make a difficult situation so much better.

                                Your kids will be able to detect even the smallest shift in your attitude. When the responsibilities of motherhood are overwhelming, stay focused on the positive things in your life, such as your friends and family. This will produce a much more stable home environment.

                                Maintain your sense of humor and don’t be afraid to be silly. Look towards the future and the great things that are still to come for you and your family. Rediscover and redefine your family values.

                                10. Move Past the Guilt

                                In a single parent home, it is impossible to act as both parents, regardless of how hard you try. Let go of the things that you cannot do as a single parent, and instead, think of the great things you ARE able to provide for your children.

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                                Leave behind the notion that life would be easier or better with two parents. This is simply not true. There is a multitude of pros and cons to all family dynamics, and the one you are providing for your kids now is the one that they need.

                                Don’t get bogged down by guilt or regret. Take control of your life and be the best parent you can by being present and engaged with them on a daily basis.

                                11. Answer Questions Honestly

                                Your kids may have questions about why their home situation is different from many of their friends. When asked, don’t sugarcoat the situation or give them an answer that is not accurate.

                                Depending on their age, take this opportunity to explain the truth of what happened and how the current circumstances came about. Not all families have two parents, whether that is due to divorce, death, or whatever else life brings.

                                Don’t give more detail than necessary or talk badly about the other parent. But strive to be truthful and honest. Your children will benefit more from your candor than a made-up story.

                                12. Treat Kids Like Kids

                                In the absence of a partner, it can be tempting to rely on your children for comfort, companionship, or sympathy. But your kids are not equipped to play this role for you.

                                There are many details within an adult relationship that children are not able to understand or process, and it will only cause confusion and resentment.

                                Do not take out your anger on your kids. Separate your emotional needs from your role as a mother. If you find yourself depending on your kids too much, look for adult friends or family members that you can talk to about your issues.

                                13. Find Role Models

                                Find positive role models of the opposite sex for your child. It’s crucial that your child does not form negative associations with an entire gender of people.

                                Find close friends or family members that would be willing to spend one-on-one time with your kids. Encourage them to form meaningful relationships with people that you trust and that they can look up to.

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                                Role models can make a huge difference in the path that a child decides to take, so be intentional about the ones that you put in your kids’ lives.

                                14. Be Affectionate and Give Praise

                                Your children need your affection and praise on a daily basis. Engage with your kids as often as possible by playing with them, going on outings, and encouraging open dialogue.

                                Affirm them in the things that they are doing well, no matter how small. Praise their efforts, rather than their achievements. This will inspire them to continue to put forth hard work and not give up when success is not achieved.

                                Rather than spending money on gifts, spend time and effort in making lasting memories.

                                Final Thoughts

                                Being a single parent is a challenging responsibility to take on. Without the help of a partner to fall back on, single parents have a lot more to take on.

                                However, studies show that growing up in a single parent home does not have a negative effect on achievement in school. As long as the family is a stable and safe environment, kids are able to excel and do well in life.

                                Use these tips in order to be a reliable and capable parent for your kids, while maintaining your own well-being and sanity.

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                                Featured photo credit: Eye for Ebony via unsplash.com

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