The 10 Best Parenting Books for Toddlers

The best parenting books for toddlers and kids can be hard to find. The internet is abundant with advice on how to raise children, but too much of it is written by people who have never actually raised a child. That’s why the best parenting books are the ones that provide wisdom from a variety of sources, ensuring that the reader gets a balanced view of what works and what doesn’t.

With so many parenting books out there, it can be hard to know which ones are worth reading. The best parenting books for toddlers will give you ideas and strategies for raising your child in a positive way. You’ll learn ways to discipline without yelling, how to help your child learn from mistakes and how to structure their day so they’re getting the most out of their time at home. Books for parents of older children will teach you about appropriate behavior and give you strategies for laying out rules you want your child to follow.

Stanford-led study highlights the importance of letting kids take the lead

NIH NLM – Parenting Matters: Supporting Parents of Children Ages 0-8. – Toddlers (1-2 years of age) – Developmental Milestones

Best Parenting Books for Toddlers

Be sure the book is written by experts—not just people who have raised kids. Look at their credentials and read reviews from parents who have used the book. If you’re a parent already, ask friends and family what they recommend—you’ll get a lot of different points of view on what was helpful or not helpful in various books. There are parenting books for every age group whether you’re a new parent of a newborn or an experienced mother or father with young adults leaving the nest. Today’s selection includes books that work well as gifts for expectant mothers, fathers and grandparents who want to know more about preparing for parenthood or helping those first few years go smoothly.

Positive Discipline for Preschooler by Cheryl Erwin will help you learn how to move away from rewards and punishments and instead focus on developing mutual respect with your child in order to build a strong relationship. Newman also addresses all of the other questions you’re likely to have about raising children, whether it’s how to discipline them, soothe their anxiety or help them cope with their emotions.

For an alternative approach, try Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. The book begins by introducing the idea of “temperament”—the inherited and specific combination of emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and physical characteristics that has been found across generations (think: intensity + sensitivity + persistence). While it’s easy to mistake irritability and tantrums for misbehavior, we can all benefit from understanding our children’s temperaments as we relate to them in this way.

With an array of advice from experts like these, you’ll be able to create a positive relationship with your child from the start and ensure that they develop into responsible adults who make good decisions throughout life.

These are the 10 Most Recommended Parenting Books for Toddlers

As a parent, you never lose your desire to learn as much as possible. Here’s a list of the top 10 parenting books for toddlers — based on real reviews from parents like you — that embody this spirit of continuous learning and education.

1. Jo Frost’s Toddler Rules: A Must have Parenting Book if you have Toddlers

Jo Frost's Toddler Rules - A Must have Parenting Book if you have Toddlers

The toddler years are awesome—they’re an exciting time of development and growth, and they can also be a trying time for parents. There are important things to teach and great life lessons to immerse your child in at this age, but it can be a challenging task, especially when that toddler is more interested in finding new ways to put everything in his mouth than listening to you.

Best known for her Emmy-nominated television show Supernanny, Jo Frost has now brought her invaluable parenting advice to the page with her debut book, Toddler Rules: Your 5-Step Guide to Shaping Proper Behavior. Frost not only provides a step-by-step guide to building a strong foundation for your child’s behavior and discipline, but also discusses the various ways in which children learn and how parents can best engage with them. 

One of Frost’s most significant contributions is her distinction between “techniques” and “strategies.” Techniques are specific actions to be taken in response to undesirable behaviors, while strategies are applied long before the undesired behavior occurs in order to foster sound judgment and moral reasoning.

This book covers both the basics of life with toddlers and some of the more unique challenges you’ll face when dealing with those little people. It’s broken into five sections: –Basic Rules: This section goes over the basic rules like “No biting,” “Go to sleep” or “No running in the house.” These rules are tailored specifically to toddlers, so they might not apply to older kids or adults, but they’re an important foundation for what’s to come.

To create a strong foundation for good manners, Frost suggests focusing on respect first and foremost. Toddlers are developing their sense of self and are usually at an age where they’re starting to have opinions about what they like and don’t like. When they feel they’re being respected by their parents, they’re more likely to be accepting of rules that parents put in place to protect them until they’re old enough to make decisions for themselves.

One way she advises parents to show respect is by acting like an adult when your child is acting out. The tone you take with your child should be similar to the one you’d take with an adult friend if he or she had just made a spectacle of themselves in front of someone else; it’s not a time to give them a tongue lashing or otherwise embarrass them, but rather a chance for them to learn from their mistakes and move forward.

Another important rule in her guidebook is the “three Cs:” consistency, consequences, and calmness.

Each chapter is broken down into easy-to-follow steps and provides examples of how you can implement the rules at home, as well as step-by-step instructions for dealing with common problems that may arise when following through on each rule. The author also clearly states that this book is not intended to be a substitute for professional help, but a tool that parents can use alongside other resources to help them deal with common issues.

A must-have for parents, this gem of a book is full of meaningful advice and helpful resources for any parent who is struggling to find the right path for their little one.

If you’re looking for a parenting book that will set you up for effective children’s behavior management, Jo Frost’s “Kids are Worth It!” is a fantastic place to start. The reason why this book has been so successful with parents and children is because Frost has a very clear understanding of how young children think and learn, which she uses to create a simple, 5-step plan for maintaining proper behavior in your home.

2. Positive Discipline for Preschooler by Cheryl Erwin, Jane Nelsen, and Roslyn Ann Duffy – Focuses on helping parents develop rewarding relationships with their toddlers based on love, respect, and fair play.

Positive Discipline for Preschooler by Cheryl Erwin, Jane Nelsen, and Roslyn Ann Duffy - Focuses on helping parents develop rewarding relationships with their toddlers

A toddler’s behavior can be frustrating and unpredictable, and their small size makes them vulnerable to all kinds of injuries. Toddlers will always test us in some way or another, but there are ways to make the process easier and more enjoyable for everyone involved.

We’re going to take a look at two books on positive discipline for toddlers that offer advice and techniques that can help you during these trying times: Positive Discipline for Preschoolers by Jane Nelsen and Roslyn Duffy. Each book offers a different set of strategies for helping you work towards a balance of respect and mutual care with your child.

No matter how much you love your child, there will be moments filled with frustration, anger, and even desperation. Caring for young children is one of the most challenging tasks an adult will ever face. It can feel like a never-ending cycle of tantrums, messes, and sleepless nights. Books like Positive Discipline for Preschoolers by Cheryl Erwin, Jane Nelsen, and Roslyn Ann Duffy can help you manage these challenges in the easiest way possible: by learning how to become an effective parent.

Pros and Cons of School Web Filtering

Positive discipline focuses on teaching strategies that work to increase your child’s self-esteem and teach them the appropriate way to interact with others. The books are based on three core principles:

  1. The best way to get a child to do what they should do is to find out what they want to do.
  2. Instead of telling a child what not to do, use encouragement and reward positive behavior instead.
  3. Children learn best when they have power over their own choices and decisions.

It includes methods such as giving non-physical consequences to replace physical ones (such as taking away TV privileges to encourage good behavior), using time-outs effectively, and teaching children to use self-calming techniques when they’re upset. There’s even a section on how to solve common parenting problems like tantrums and eating disorders. This book focuses on practical solutions rather than theoretical concepts. It’s easy to read with lots of examples that are appropriate for children of different ages and temperaments. It’s like having three experts in your home—one who shows you what not to do, one who shows you what you could try next time, and one who helps you figure out what will work best for you as a parent.

This book is part of a series called “Positive Discipline,” which is based largely on two big ideas: that children need our guidance in order to develop into responsible adults and that we must meet them where they are if we want to help them learn and grow. The authors believe that spanking children or using other physical forms of punishment (such as a swat on the bottom) do not aid this process—instead of learning how to behave better or becoming more mature, kids will only associate discipline with fear or physical discomfort instead of learning how to make appropriate decisions for themselves. Instead of taking a hard stance against misbehavior, Positive Discipline encourages us to focus on what we love about our children.

3. Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Kurcinka – best suited to those who are wondering why their toddler seems more intense than others, and what they can do about it

Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Kurcinka - best suited to those who are wondering why their toddler seems more intense than others, and what they can do about it

Raising Your Spirited Child is a book by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka that aims to provide a positive framework for parents of spirited children (kids who are intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, and uncomfortable with change). Kurcinka draws on her own experience as a parent, as well as her years as an educator and counselor. She also cites the work of other authors in the field of child development, including Alice Miller. One key focus of the book is helping parents learn to accept their child’s unique personality traits and then help them develop these traits in positive ways.

Children with spirited temperaments often have trouble in environments that value compliance over genuine expression. For instance, many preschools use a reward system with stickers or points (instead of affection), which can cause children to feel abnormal if they don’t enjoy being rewarded for every little thing they do.

If you are the parent of a spirited child, your life is probably quite different than that of a parent whose child is less intense. You have to be tuned into your child’s moods, while also trying to help your toddler learn the skills he or she will eventually need to interact with others on their own.

Why do Schools Block websites, apps and everything?

A child’s character is defined by the interaction between nature and nurture. While it is important to make sure your child gets proper nutrition and develops a healthy lifestyle, it is equally important to understand their personal temperament. This can be difficult for the parent of a spirited child, who may feel like their child’s temperament is ruining their lives. However, when a parent recognizes and accepts their child’s unique personality traits, they can begin to work with them rather than against them. It’s not just the parent that can benefit from this; other family members can also learn how to better understand and appreciate the child.

As a result, raising a spirited child can be extremely challenging.

In this book, Kurcinka offers advice on how to understand and deal with spirited children—and how to turn negative behavior into something positive. This book focuses on temperamental traits, making it especially useful for parents who want to focus on the positive instead of continuously trying to change their child’s behavior. By focusing on the positive aspects of being spirited, Kurcinka encourages parents to focus on their kiddo’s strengths rather than their weaknesses and helps children develop skills they can use in the future.

Raising Your Spirited Child is a book that’s been around for a good long while, but its positive message has not gone out of style. It comes from the author’s own experience as the parent of a spirited child, as well as consultation with dozens of children and parents. The focus is on understanding your child’s unique personality and temperament, finding ways to cope with some of the challenges that come along with it, and developing strategies to help your child lead a well-rounded life. The book also contains many stories from others who have been through similar experiences, so you’ll never feel alone.

4. Say What You See for Parents and Teachers by Sandra R. Blackard – A quick read that discusses specific ways to communicate effectively with toddlers

Say What You See for Parents and Teachers by Sandra R. Blackard - A quick read that discusses specific ways to communicate effectively with toddlers

If you’re a parent, you know that communicating with your child can be difficult at times. You want them to do what you say, but they don’t always listen or understand what you mean. Communication is often a struggle between parent and child because the two sides aren’t sharing the same frame of reference.

This book is for parents and teachers who are trying to improve their communication skills with their children or students. The author does an excellent job of breaking down the subject into easily understood steps and putting it into everyday language. She has even included exercises in the book to help you practice these techniques on your own in order to master them as quickly as possible.

This book is great for parents who have a hard time communicating with their children, or if they feel like they give too much praise and not enough acknowledgment when it comes to their children’s behavior and accomplishments. It can also help parents connect better with their kids through more effective communication and set better limits around behavior.

Best Browsers with Parental Controls

Say What You See for Parents and Teachers by Sandra R. Blackard offers a solution to this problem: teaching children to communicate everything they see with simple words, which in turn encourages them to develop their vocabulary. This book is intended for babies, but it’s a great tool for toddlers as well. 

It features full color pictures of familiar objects that have been photographed to be simple and clear. When you ask your child about an object in the picture, he can point to it and say what it is—all this from a simple picture book! 

The book also promotes early childhood literacy by encouraging toddlers to identify multiple letters of the alphabet on each page. It’s a great resource for any parent looking to expand their toddler’s vocabulary and communication skills, or anyone who works with children who has trouble talking about what they see. It’s also very helpful for parents who are looking for a way to encourage their children’s verbal communication skills without resorting to television or toy videos, which often lead to more undesirable outcomes than just better vocabulary.

5. 1-2-3 Magic Book by Thomas W. Phelan – this parenting book is praised as life-changing by parents with toddlers in the house

1-2-3 Magic Book by Thomas W. Phelan - this parenting book is praised as life-changing by parents

This parenting book is praised as life-changing by parents.  

Thomas W. Phelan is a clinical psychologist who wrote the best-selling book 1-2-3 Magic, which focuses on positive routines for families. The book helps parents learn how to control their own behavior in order to produce the best outcomes in their children’s behavior. The guide helps parents learn how to control their own behavior in order to produce the best outcomes in their children’s behavior.

1-2-3 Magic has been a go-to book for parents for over 8 years. Author Thomas W. Phelan explains how to use structured time and positive reinforcement to improve the behavior of children ages 2–12.

In particular, the book focuses on the idea that you can actually control your child’s behavior and get better results than you ever could with anger and punishment. The key is learning how to set up routines that will help your child behave better no matter what the circumstances. The idea is that a good routine will always be more effective at making a child behave well than punishing them for wrong behavior will be.

The book recommends several techniques for implementing positive routines throughout your child’s day and shows you how to do so in a kind way that builds trust and respect between parent and child. This is key to making sure every part of your child’s day goes smoothly—without conflict or stress—and makes your whole family happier as a result.

The basic premise of 1-2-3 Magic is that the bulk of a child’s behavior problems can be traced to family dynamics rather than individual behavior. Phelan argues that most children are naturally affectionate, kind, and well behaved. The problem, then, isn’t with the child but rather with the parents’ unrealistic expectations of what constitutes good behavior and their failure to enforce discipline consistently.

Phelan writes that two factors influence a child’s behavior: love and limits. For this reason, he focuses on how both parents can promote positive behaviors through positive reinforcement and effective discipline techniques while maintaining clear boundaries when it comes to unacceptable behaviors. In short, Phelan advocates that parents should not only have good intentions when it comes to raising their children but also be willing to put in effort in order to execute those intentions.

The first step in disciplining a toddler is to understand what discipline actually means. Discipline is not the same thing as punishment or even consequences. Instead, it’s an organized, proactive plan for guiding your child’s behavior, and it’s something that needs to be constantly adjusted as your child grows and learns.

In his viewpoint as a parent and an expert, Phelan shows how to improve relationships between parents and children as well as among siblings by being consistent, fair, predictable, and flexible at the same time. He also emphasizes the importance of “strict love” in parenting: strict in that parents need to be firm and consistent with their children; but love in that they should always try to explain why they need to enforce rules or set consequences for bad behavior.

This book is revered by parents for its simple, effective techniques for handling common toddler behaviors like “you’re not the boss of me;” “I never have to listen to you;” “Don’t touch!”; and more. The focus on discipline over punishment has helped many parents turn around their child’s behavior in just a few days, and the methods are easily transferable from toddlerhood to preschoolers and beyond.

6. No-Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson – Best Discipline book for Toddlers

No-Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson - Best Discipline book for Toddlers

No-Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson is an approach to parenting that teaches parents how to connect with their child and redirect his or her emotions in order to prevent meltdowns, which are opportunities for growth. The book is rooted in science, with facts about brain development and discipline appropriate for each age and stage.

The authors’ writing style is candid, reflecting the common occurrence of real-life situations like the above example where a parent doesn’t realize what’s going on until it’s too late, but also relatable, making readers feel less alone in the confusion of parenthood. This book may be particularly helpful for parents who are looking for a relatable guide to help them through the inevitable moments of frustration they encounter as they learn to raise children.

No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D., explores the concept of discipline in a new way.

Acknowledging that emotions are the underlying basis for all behavior, the book teaches parents how to connect with their child, redirect their emotions, and make meltdowns into opportunities for growth. Drawing on insights from neuroscience, the book shows parents how to see the world through their child’s eyes and offers advice for dealing with each stage of development.

The authors also encourage parents to examine their own emotions as they interact with their children and to work toward understanding what’s really going on in a situation rather than reacting to misbehavior from an emotional place. For example, a parent who is feeling frustrated after being nagged at throughout the day may be projecting those feelings onto her child when he misbehaves in a similar way. This book serves as a sanity-saving guide for any parent looking for practical ways to raise happier kids.

They posit that children have an emotional life that is just as complex as an adult’s, but their brains are not developed enough to effectively handle the intense emotions they are experiencing. It is up to parents to help them through these times; often times when children are struggling with their emotions, it can be for very good reasons such as hunger or tiredness.

This book puts forth three steps for discipline: connect with your child in the moment, find out what your child’s emotion is about, and then redirect their behavior before the emotion gets the best of them. For example, if a child is running around the house screaming because he’s hungry, you could calmly tell him that he needs to go in his room until he calms down and can come out once his body has gotten its message that it’s okay to eat.

The No-Drama Discipline is one of the best parenting books for parents with toddlers who are seeking non-traditional methods of child-rearing. Readers will brainstorm with the authors on how to communicate with their children in a positive and healthy way, while keeping their sanity intact. Students will not find this book overly academic or dense, but instead lighthearted and easy to digest. The “No-Drama Parenting” model is reality based parenting principles that are applicable to any stage of life — even beyond infancy and toddlerhood — for both parent and child.

7. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish – provides very insightful guidelines for parents about how toddlers, kids learn to communicate, and how that communication can be fostered.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish - provides very insightful guidelines for parents about how kids learn to communicate, and how that communication can be fostered.

In How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, authors Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish share some of the communication strategies that have worked for them over the years as psychologists. By explaining the reasons behind why kids act the way they do, then giving examples of how to effectively communicate with children in various situations, these two parenting experts give parents a clear understanding of how to communicate with their kids so that both parties understand each other and no one feels misunderstood or frustrated.

Faber and Mazlish believe that children want respect just like adults do, but they learn how to get it by imitating what they see at home. The authors explain how parents should practice active listening (which really means not just waiting for your turn to talk) and give their kids a chance to say what’s on their minds. They also encourage parents to let kids know that they are respected when they offer suggestions or ask questions rather than shouting orders at them or criticizing them.

When we think of listening to our children, we imagine an attentive parent sitting still and taking in every word their child says—but that’s not the type of listening Faber and Mazlish are talking about. The authors describe two different types of listening: empathetic and logical.

Empathetic listening is about paying attention to a child’s feelings, trying to understand where they’re coming from, and validating their feelings. “It’s being able to read the cues that your child gives off—their facial expressions, their body language—and responding to those cues as you would if you were engaged in a conversation with another adult,”.

Logical listening, on the other hand, involves trying to understand what your child is saying and why they’re saying it. This means staying focused on what’s actually being said and asking questions to clarify anything that you don’t immediately understand.

Faber and Mazlish offer specific strategies for parents to help their children, from toddlers to teenagers. Their techniques can be used effectively in homes with children of any age group, but are especially relevant when dealing with toddlers, who require more attention and care than older kids.

According to Faber and Mazlish, the most effective way for parents to encourage good behavior in their children is to use “I-messages” or statements that focus on how a child feels, instead of what the child is doing. For example, saying “You are really making me angry when you hit your sister” in response to a child hitting his or her sibling emphasizes the child’s behavior (which has drawn the parent’s attention) instead of validating the child’s feelings towards his or her sibling. A better approach would be to use an “I-message” by saying “I feel sad when you hit your sister. Can we go for a walk?” Focusing on feelings instead of actions allows parents to connect with their children and reduces tension between siblings.

Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish break down the process of communicating with kids into five simple steps: making connections, listening with empathy, teaching using the adult-to-child ratio of three to one, being consistent, and avoiding power struggles by remaining calm. 

These steps aren’t groundbreaking by any means—but what sets this book apart from others is the authors’ emphasis on building a strong parent-child relationship through positive reinforcement. Their tips are filled with positive statements parents can make to their children such as “You are nice to your brother when you keep your hands off his toys” or “I do like it when you clean up all by yourself.”

8. Playful Parenting, by Lawrence J. Cohen – a modern classic in parenting literature.

Playful Parenting, by Lawrence J. Cohen - a modern classic in parenting literature.

Playful Parenting is one of the most exciting new approaches to raising children that I’ve seen in a while. This book will help any parent nurture close connections, solve behavior problems, and encourage confidence—no matter how young their child is.

Playful Parenting combines the benefits of play with the techniques of discipline and allows you to use all forms of play to help you connect with your child. It’s not just about using games as a distraction or a bribe, but using play to really get to know your child, which is the foundational aspect of parenting. Later on, it shows you how to use play as a way to teach your child important skills like sharing, taking turns, and being respectful.

Playful Parenting, by Lawrence J. Cohen, is a highly recommended book for parents who want to teach their children through play. It provides ample information on how to engage in playful parenting, and it can be useful for both children of all ages as well as teenagers.

The book starts off by explaining the importance of maintaining this sense of playfulness throughout life. It then transitions into a chapter called “Playful Parenting: How To Bring Out the Best in Your Child,” which teaches readers how to establish a playful mindset and use it in daily interactions with their kids. The book then goes on to talk about specific ways to make chores and bedtime more fun for kids, and also addresses issues like discipline, being a positive role model, setting limits, and fostering creativity.

In the book, Cohen encourages parents to learn how to enter their children’s world. He describes how parents can teach and guide their kids through play by being an observer and “play listener” rather than a “play director.” 

The book includes lots of examples that illustrate this idea, such as how the parent can join the child in his or her imaginary play, rather than forcing him or her to stop what he or she is doing and do something more appropriate as directed by the parent. The author also suggests ways that parents can be playful while still setting limits and teaching skills that are necessary for growing up. 

In addition to many helpful tips on how to encourage playfulness in your children, Playful Parenting also offers practical advice on handling discipline, conflict resolution, and problem solving with your child. Overall, this is an excellent resource for any parent who wants to foster close relationships with his or her child while helping him or her become an independent person.

Overall, this book provides fresh insight into the possibilities of parenting and gives parents great ideas for how they can use their own natural skills as a foundation for developing their children’s potential. I highly recommend it!

9. Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn – One of the better parenting books available today with a realistic, rational approach to parenting a toddler

Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn - One of the better parenting books available today with a realistic, rational approach to parenting a toddler

What do kids need–and how can we meet those needs? This is the question at the heart of celebrated educator Alfie Kohn’s latest book. In Unconditional Parenting, he turns conventional wisdom about raising children completely on its head and presents a two-part plan for meeting kids’ emotional needs while fostering self-discipline:

“Part One asks parents to look at their own lives and answer the question ‘What would I want as a kid?’ It then suggests specific ways to change our own behavior so that we can model the qualities of caring, concern, and respect that children naturally want from us. 

“Part Two asks parents to look at their children with fresh eyes and see them not just as little people but as individuals with their own strengths, needs, interests, and ways of understanding family life. It then offers concrete examples of respectful discipline–concrete in the sense that every step is rooted in an awareness of what’s best for children rather than what will please us or make us feel more effective.”

“It’s a simple idea: If you consider your child’s feelings as well as your own, you will be less likely to use coercion; if you see your child as someone worthy of respect, you’ll be less likely to resort to force.  

Kohn draws on a wealth of research in child development and psychology, as well as on his own experience as a father, to offer strategies for creating an environment that nurtures children’s natural desire to learn, grow, and be happy. He focuses not on rewards and punishments but on approaches that cultivate caring, cooperation, and confidence.

As he explains in this paradigm-shifting book, you don’t have to bribe or threaten your children to get them to act responsibly; in fact, doing so will only erode their motivation and character. Instead, you can help them develop a sense of self-worth that is not contingent on performance. And you can create family life that is more cooperative, enjoyable, and loving–in short, a delight rather than a duty.

The concept of controlling children is so deeply ingrained in our culture that it’s hard to imagine how we could possibly parent without it. And yet, as renowned educator Alfie Kohn shows, that isn’t the only way and it’s definitely not the best way. Kohn argues that the need of all humans–including children–is to grow up feeling capable and competent. Unfortunately, most of us were shamed or punished as children when we didn’t live up to someone else’s expectations. And so we learned to believe that our worth depended on being “good”–and that we weren’t lovable unless we earned the right to be called “good.”

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering why your child won’t listen to you, or why your kid always seems to be testing you, you’ll find much-needed answers here. Kohn explains how most forms of discipline are really just ways of expressing our own frustration and do nothing to improve a child’s behavior–in fact, they usually make things worse. He then offers a thoughtful exploration of what truly motivates children and how we can best nurture their need for autonomy and competence.

Including dozens of stories from Kohn’s own experiences as a teacher and parent, as well as those from other parents. In Unconditional Parenting, Alfie Kohn presents the case for an approach to parenting based not on rewards and punishments but on genuine caring. He shows parents how to encourage good behavior not by doling out gold stars or time-outs when their children misbehave, but through honest communication, respect, and the occasional hug.

Alfie Kohn’s Unconditional Parenting takes a look at the traditional Western model of parenting and asks some tough questions about what it means to be a parent in the first place. In it, he points out that our society has become so focused on trying to control children through rewards and punishments that we’ve forgotten what it means to be a parent. He says that “It’s time to stop blaming, controlling, manipulating, and bribing–and instead focus our energies on supporting, listening to, and encouraging children.”

This book is a great place to start if you’re looking to move beyond traditional parenting methods. Kohn’s research shows that the more we focus on making our kids behave, the less successful we are at it. Instead, he invites us to take a closer look at what our children really need–and how we can give it to them in meaningful ways. What do they need most? The answer might surprise you: unconditional love and acceptance.

And he doesn’t mean “unconditional” in the sense of letting them do whatever they want without discipline or boundaries. On the contrary, Kohn tells parents that they have an obligation to set limits because kids learn by doing–and when we don’t let them try and figure things out for themselves, they miss out on opportunities to grow and develop. In fact, Kohn believes that it’s only by learning how to go through natural consequences that kids can truly learn self-discipline–and thus be able to make good decisions when grown-ups aren’t around.

Kohn advocates an approach known as “unconditional positive regard,” which involves treating children with respect and affection no matter what they do or say. Unconditional Parenting is sure to be controversial. However, it also has the potential to change the way we think about our kids and what they really need. Whether or not you agree with Kohn’s premise right away, there’s no denying his impressive credentials, and he clearly has something to say. I recommend looking past any disagreements you may have with his ideas just to hear his thoughts on raising kids, even if they’re not directly applicable to your situation. After all, there’s no law that says you have to take everything he says as gospel or that you even have to agree with all of it.

10. Toddler Discipline for Every Age and Stage by Aubrey Hargis – Offers practical, age-appropriate toddler discipline strategies

Toddler Discipline for Every Age and Stage by Aubrey Hargis - Offers practical, age-appropriate toddler discipline strategies

Aubrey Hargis’ book Toddler Discipline for Every Age and Stage offers practical, age-appropriate toddler discipline strategies for managing the everyday challenges of toddlerhood and guiding your child to becoming their best self. 

Though you may have heard a thousand different approaches to dealing with your snarky toddler, this book is set apart from other books on the subject. The author’s background working in early childhood education as well as her experience as a parent gave her a unique perspective that is reflected in her writing. This book offers a more holistic approach to toddler discipline, taking into consideration the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well being of the child.

Aubrey Hargis offers a guide to parenting toddlers from ages one to three that is based on how children learn best. She offers specific strategies for handling toddler discipline in each situation, and explains why you should use these tactics instead of others. Hargis uses her background in psychology to explain the reasons behind all kinds of challenging behaviors in young children, including tantrums, whining, biting, hitting, and more.

Hargis also emphasizes the importance of having realistic expectations when it comes to disciplining toddlers—you cannot expect them to behave like adults, and temper tantrums are a natural part of development. This book is geared toward parents who want to raise humble, compassionate children who know right from wrong—parents who will be able to have meaningful conversations with their children about their behavior as they grow into adults.

First, it’s important to note that Hargis is clear that parental discipline isn’t about punishment; rather, it’s about helping a child develop good habits from an early age. This is essential, because a child can only learn self-discipline if they know what the expectations are—and when those expectations are being met. A lack of structure leaves children feeling anxious and insecure—kinds of feelings that are anathema to self-discipline. Hargis also talks about how important it is for parents to use positive reinforcement by providing positive feedback when children do meet their expectations; this helps children feel successful and more likely to continue meeting those expectations in the future.

The book is divided into four sections: “The Basics,” “Getting Creative,” “Common Problems,” and “Hitting the Big 3,” referring to the ages of three and under, four to six, seven to 10, and 11 and up. Sections are made up of chapters that give practical tips on discipline strategies for each age range. For example, a chapter on discipline for three-year-olds explains how to help a toddler who is excessively clingy with you or who hits his/her sibling. The book also gives explanations of why toddlers act out in certain situations and what you can do to change behavior and ensure your child’s well-being. The book is full of pictures, charts and quotes that make it easy to find what you’re looking for and extract information quickly.

The author, Aubrey Hargis, has developed a guide that is both practical and entertaining for any parent. The book features charts, tips, checklists, and toddler advice for every age and stage.

If you’re a new parent, or if you’re a parent who wants to do better, I highly recommend reading at least one of these books.