If you are anything like me, you want to be the best parent you can be. There is so much parenting advice available in books and blog posts that it can be confusing to know where to begin.   Some parenting books are a wonderful support but there are also some that are potentially harmful to parent-child relationships and can reduce your parenting confidence due to the pressure and sense of failure that following their strict rules and inflexible routines may cause. I wanted to put together a list of the real gems out there. I asked 7 parenting experts from across the world to tell me their favorite parenting book, how it helped them in their parenting and who they would recommend the book to.

Here is what they told me:

Dr Emma Svanberg, “The Mumologist”, Perinatal Clinical Psychologist, London

What is your favourite parenting book?
The one series of books I return to frequently as a parent myself is The Tavistock Clinic’s ‘Understanding Your Child’ series. This is a series from babyhood up to age 12, written by psychology and psychotherapy professionals working in the Child & Family and the Adolescent departments at the world-renowned Tavistock Clinic in London. I’d urge anyone reading to stay away from any book which professes to tell you the ‘right way’ to parent. Only you know the right way to parent your unique baby, based on the unique experiences of you and your partner.

How did this book help you?
I dip into these books frequently in my parenting journey – often around my children’s birthdays and again over the course of the year when I may be experiencing particular obstacles. The series outlines the developmental expectations and challenges of each age, with case study examples to support the theory. So you can read about what might be tricky about starting school, or a new sibling, or conflicts with friends – but you can also understand the psychological transformations taking place at each age. The books help to normalise the kind of behaviour we can sometimes struggle with, such as difficulty sharing or defiance and give ideas about the purpose of these behaviours. Knowing this helps me to empathise with my children, especially during tougher times.

Who would you recommend this book to?
I’d recommend these books to anyone who has children, looks after children or works with children. They’re very concise, can be read in an hour or less and contain such a wealth of useful information. I think understanding child development is such an overlooked part of parenting – if we know why our children do the often strange things they do then we know better how to support them.

You can connect with Emma at https://www.mumologist.com

Dr Sarah Rasmi, Positive Parenting Expert & Family Psychologist, Dubai

1. What is your favourite parenting book?

There are so many wonderful resources, but my favourite is the classic How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.

2. How did this book help you?

This book is really helpful because it combines theory and practice. Each chapter includes exercises that parents can use to promote their children’s development and overcome specific challenges. I have recommended it to many of my clients and used it with my own children too.

3. Who would you recommend this book to?

I would recommend this book to parents who would like to learn positive strategies for fostering their children’s autonomy, cooperation, and socioemotional development.

To connect with Sarah go to http://www.drsarahrasmi.com/

Melissa Benaroya, Childproof Parenting, LICSW (Family Coaching and Education), Seattle. 

1. What is your favourite parenting book?

One of my favorite all-time parenting books is Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn

2. How did this book help you?

It is one of the first I read when my kids were really young. This book was so powerful in helping me shape the way I think, feel and act as a parent and understanding how I can nurture the relationship I want with my kids. Alfie Kohn discusses several different parenting practices that many parents use as “discipline” and demonstrates how they are actually a form of punishment and result in children’s negative self-image.  What I love most is the message throughout the book that the goal of parenting is really empowerment rather than conforming and that parents must use parenting methods that are respectful rather than coercive.

Unconditional Parenting helps parents reflect on how they think about their parenting approach by asking questions such as, “Is it possible that what I did with my child had more to do with my needs, my fears, and my own upbringing than with what’s really in their best interests?”  It gently helps parents shift their mindset from,  “How do I get my child to do what I say?” to ‘What does my child need and how can I meet those needs?”  I think before parents focus on what to do and say with their child when there is a big emotion or challenging behavior they need to get clear about the framework and goals of their parenting.

3. Who would you recommend this book to?

Unconditional Parenting has heavily influenced the work I do with families as a parent coach as well as the way I have chosen to parent my own children.  I recommend this book to all parents, but think it should be read by parents of toddlers/preschoolers to help them prepare for the challenges ahead.  It is truly is a gem that does not get enough attention in the parenting world!

You can connect with Melissa at http://www.ChildproofParenting.com

 

Kirstin Bouse, Clinical Psychologist and author of “The Conscious Mother”,  Australia

What is your favourite parenting book?

It was so hard to choose but I settled on Parenting from the Inside Out: How a deeper self-understanding can help you raise children who thrive by Dan Siegel and Mary Hartzell.

How did this book help you?

This book helped me in a number of ways. First and foremost it reassured me of the importance of self-understanding in this parenting gig. So much information in the parenting space talks about what to do with your kids. For me, the most important part of it all is how I can help myself. When I’m self-aware and self-compassionate, I have the resources (knowledge, skill and capacity) to do my best. It also helped me by breaking down the whole ‘self-aware’ thing down into all the relevant components. While all of it has underpinned my own parenting and my work with clients, Dan and Mary deconstruct those components in such an easy to understand way. They also show how the components all fit and work together. That was super helpful.

Who would I recommend this to?

I personally think every parent would benefit from this, but I’ve been doing this gig long enough to know that not ALL parents want to look at themselves and understand how that influences their parenting. But if you’re someone who knows that parenting begins with you and your strengths and struggles, this book is absolutely for you!

You can connect with Kirstin at https://theconsciousmother.com.au/

Dr Zoe Shaw, Psychotherapist, The Redefining Your Superwoman Radio Show, Los Angeles

What is your favourite parenting book?

My favorite parenting book is The Trouble with Boys: A Surprising Report Card on Our Sons, Their Problems at School, and What Parents and Educators Must Do by Peg Tyre.

How did this book help you?

I read this book when my boys, now 16 and 14 were toddlers. I was debating how I was going to educate them and someone suggested this book to me and it has been a life changer.  This book outlines how the educational system is actually geared more towards the way that girls learn best in the early years and how many boys are falling through the cracks because they learn differently.

Not only does she clearly outline the issues with young boys and the educational system, Peg Tyre also gives wonderful tools and tips on working with your son to maximize his success based on his learning style. I have implemented a number of the author’s suggestions over the years for how we do homework and approach learning with my sons. They are both now accomplished students.

Who would you recommend this book to?

I suggest this book to any mom of a pre-schooler or elementary aged son.

You can connect with Zoe at http://drzoeshaw.com/

Anya Hayes, Author of “The Supermum Myth”, Pregnancy and Postnatal Pilates Expert, London

What is your favourite parenting book?

My favourite parenting book is What Mothers Do – Especially when it looks like nothing by Naomi Stadlen.

How did this book help you?
It really helped me to feel like I wasn’t alone, I was normal! It manages to articulate so many aspects of motherhood which seem otherwise inexplicable or too simple to be taken seriously. I read it when my first was 5, but I wished I had had it when he was a baby.

Who would you recommend this book to?

I would recommend it to every woman who has ever had a baby

You can connect with Anya at  http://motherswellnesstoolkit.wordpress.com

Megan Burgess, Special Needs Parenting Writer, California

What is your favourite parenting book?

It Takes Two To Talk: A Practical Guide for Parent’s of Children with Language Delays by Elaine Weitzman. This book provides parents not only with a better understanding of their child but also with personalized and concrete methods to incorporate into their everyday routines.

How did this book help you?

To this day, my son does not want to give an inch in speech therapy. Even if your child is receiving speech therapy, any speech therapist will attest that the key to progress lies in the day-to-day interactions that we have with our children, and how effectively we seize the opportunities that they present us with. “It Takes Two To Talk: A Practical Guide for Parent’s of Children with Language Delays,” allows me to simply interweave the basic techniques recommended in this book into our daily routine and watch in awe as he naturally progresses.

Who would I recommend this to?
If you’re the parent of a “late- talker,” or even just an educationally-motivated and proactive one, “It Takes Two To Talk: A Practical Guide for Parents of Children with Language Delays” is a back-to-basics tool you can utilize at home while doing everyday activities with your child. It’s not a tough read, and as the mother of two toddler sons, I am more than just okay with that.

You can connect with Megan at https://mominterrupted.blog/about/

A big thank you to the parenting experts for generously sharing their wisdom. My favorite parenting book is also on this list. It is the very easy to read and apply How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. I recommend it to any parent who wants to find more effective ways to communicate with their child. There is also a “Teens” version by the same authors which is equally good.

Where ever you choose to seek your parenting wisdom from, I encourage you to seek a source that allows flexibility and puts the parent-child relationship at its heart. Happy reading.