‘Human beings weren’t designed to handle the amount of stress our modern life loads on us, which makes it difficult to hear our natural parenting instincts.’ Laura Markham, Aha Parenting
Want happy, connected, confident kids?
Me too! Read on.
Since becoming a Mum, I’ve decided parenting is a bit like childbirth – you have to experience it before you really get it. And when you really get it, you realise it’s hard!
Even if you’re a born natural at the parenting thing, I’m pretty certain there’s barely a parent on the planet, in modern Western society anyway, who hasn’t (at some point!) thrown their hands in the air in utter despair, turned the air an embarrassing shade of blue and declared they have absolutely no idea what they’re doing. Sound familiar?
Those moments can be really scary and are often the moments we most doubt ourselves as parents.
And it’s often these moments when we turn to the latest parenting book in search of a solution – tired, emotional and sometimes, let’s face it, a little (or a lot) desperate!
But the trouble with a lot of modern parenting books (and advice in general) is a tendency to focus on fitting our babies and children into our frenetic lifestyles, rather than encouraging us to listen to and act upon our natural instincts, which for me were at complete odds with much modern parenting advice.
Controlled crying (yes I tried it at a severely sleep deprived point) made every fibre in my body scream ‘no’, demand feeding seemed completely natural, despite advice to the contrary and co-sleeping has proved invaluable, despite many a raised eyebrow and furrowed brow.
And as my Little Lady got older, shouting always led to disconnection and a worsening of the situation.
But parenting is hard and sometimes we need help or advice when we have a parenting wobble or feel things are going a bit left field. But this advice needs to work with our natural instincts and intuition, not against it.
As Laura Markham so rightly points out, in the ‘noise’ and frenetic speed to today’s lifestyle, it’s often hard to find the space to listen to, hear and then have the confidence to act upon our natural parenting instincts.
The following parenting books all work with nature and our natural parenting instincts, which so often seem to get lost, forgotten or confused in the miasma of conflicting modern parenting advice out there today.
They have been monumentally (I don’t say that lightly!) helpful to me as a parent and they are the books I come back to again and again…
I really hope they can do the same for you.
6 Must Read Books on Parenting For Raising Happy, Connected & Confident Kids
Jean Liedloff spent two and a half years in the South American jungle living with Stone Age Indians. I know, stay with me!
The experience shattered her Western preconceptions of how we should live and parent and led her to a ‘new’ understanding of how we have lost much of our natural well being and parental instincts.
I’ve often questioned whether we have it right in the west, where we’ve steered away from so many age old child rearing practices, such as baby wearing and co-sleeping, in favour of the more modern, controlled approaches, such as ‘crying it out’, bottle feeding and sleeping in a cot with limited human contact from birth. It’s simply not natural.
What is fascinating as well is that a lot of indigenous communities, such as the Indians Liedloff lived with, do not experience half of the issues we face in the West, such as cot deaths, colic or tantrums.
In The Continuum Concept, Liedloff shows us practical ways to regain life as nature intended, not only for our children, but also for ourselves. The book will not be for everyone, as it’s a book like non other really and it will make you question things.
For me it’s essential parent reading.
I. Love. This. Book.
Did you know that through play we can help our children:
- Express and understand complex emotions
- Break through shyness, anger, and fear
- Empower themselves and respect diversity
- Play their way through sibling rivalry
- Cooperate without power struggles.
Play is children’s work. It’s how they learn and it’s how they make sense of the world. This book will revolutionise the way you look at play.
Next time your child acts up, rather than instantly berate them or put them in time out (and basically really piss them off) think about what is really going on with them inside and whether you can diffuse the issue for them through play.
Sound silly? It’s not.
Lawrence Cohen is a trained psychologist and he writes with such warmth and compassion, with so many real life examples of his ideas in practice, it’s hard not to fall in love with the man.
Warning: this book requires you to be silly! It requires you to get down and play with your child. (And no that does NOT mean on a Playstation).
We’ve lost a lot of our natural ability to play with our children in today’s multimedia armageddon, so this book might not come naturally to everyone, but with practice the approach of play really works, because, again, (in my view anyway) it’s what nature intended.
Plus, your child will thank you for it.
Are you a yeller? I didn’t shout at my child until she was 3 and was pretty self righteous about. Until…the day I shouted.
My Little Lady was having none of it. She looked me in the eye and roared ‘YOU DO NOT SPEAK TO CHWILDREEEN LIKE THAT’.
I was mortified. And I apologised.
Of course many a parenting ‘expert’ will say what an idiot I am, showing my child I was in the wrong, relinquishing control and letting them get the upper hand.
But for me it was a red flag that we had become disconnected (or I was run down and letting it come between us). The experience was also a great learning curve for both of us. It allowed her to tense her muscles and it allowed me to stop and take stock and talk to her about what happened – that mums and dads get tired. That they sometimes get it wrong.
Kids are not daft after all. They have a radar for injustice but are often too scared to say anything. I feel blessed my little lady felt empowered enough to yell back.
Dr Laura Markham runs the highly successful www.ahaparenting.com website and in Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids, she shows us how to stay connected with our children, offering simple, practical tips, which are rooted in the latest research in brain development.
Her message: ‘Fostering emotional connection with your child creates real and lasting change. When you have that vital connection, you don’t need to threaten, nag, plead, bribe—or even punish.’
If you want an accessible book on peaceful parenting, with practical tips you can start implementing today, this is it.
Written by child psychiatrist Daniel J. Siegel and early-childhood expert Mary Hartzell, Parenting From the Inside Out explores how our childhood experiences shape the way we parent.
It draws on both neurobiology and attachment research and explains (in an accessible way!) how interpersonal relationships affect the development of the brain.
The essence of the book is that armed with a deeper understanding of our own life stories, we’ll be better equipped to raise compassionate and resilient children.
Parenting From the Inside Out is not necessarily a super easy book to take on, as it asks the reader to examine themselves and their own childhood, in order to determine why, as parents, we do some of the things we do.
But if you’re up for taking a look in the mirror and don’t mind a bit of science, this book can provide you with some invaluable insights into your own behaviour as a parent, as well as provide you some solutions for when things aren’t going quite to plan.
And most importantly it could bring you closer to your child.
This has been a top parenting book for some time now. And rightly so.
It’s a highly accessible book and in it, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish provide effective step by step techniques to help you improve and enrich your relationships with your children.
The book will guide you through ways to:
- Break a pattern of arguments
- Cope with negative feelings
- Engage your child’s cooperation
- Set clear limits and maintain goodwill
- Express your emotions without being hurtful
- Resolve conflicts peacefully.
If we’re totally honest, most of us disrespect our children all the time, often without even realising it – we lecture them, we frequently fail to truly listen or we jump in and solve problems for them, rather than giving them the support and tools to work it out themselves.
The essence of this book is quite simple really – respect your children and they will respect you.
If you like books with straightforward actionable ideas or are having power struggles with your child, this is a must read.
I’m not sure how I originally came across this book, but I love it. I spent 2 days in bed ill a year or so ago and just consumed it.
I just love the concept of the subtitle – ‘The Art of Joyful Parenting’ – as parenting should be joyful. I think a lot of the joy of parenting has been lost in today’s frenetic, often toxic, culture and this book examines how to get it back.
In Magical Parent, Magical Child the authors present seven principles for guiding and teaching children.
It rejects traditional modern parenting approaches like rewards and punishments in favour of playful interaction, creative intelligence, and insight.
What’s interesting about the book is the way it incorporates strategies that have led top athletes to perform at their peak levels, which the book terms as “zone,” “flow,” and “play.”
By employing these same concepts, Magical Parent, Magical Child demonstrates how parents can create ‘Optimum Learning Relationships’ with children of any age.
The book is written in a very conversational tone between the authors, almost in an interview type style. So if you want a ‘how to’ guide with practical, actionable tips, this is not it, as it’s more a conversational book about ideas and concepts.
But the ideas are wonderful. Compassionate and child centred, they promote fun and joyful parenting over the punishment and reward based approaches that have become so prevalent in our culture today.
I love it.
If you read (or have already read!) one of my suggested best books on parenting above I’d love to know your thoughts. Or if you have any other recommendations, please drop me a comment below.