3 Must-Read Books for Parents

Being a good parent is arguably the toughest job on the market. If only there was one how-to parenting manual that, if followed, would guarantee happy, healthy and well-adjusted kids!

Instead, we've got hundreds of parenting books to choose from, each offering its own take on how to best navigate this often befuddling journey. From positive discipline to "love and logic," the advice is all over the place, leaving many of us feeling confused, overwhelmed and anxious.

I've read my fair share of what's out there and I want to help clear up your confusion.

Based on years of professional experience working with kids and families and seven years of motherhood during which I've tested out many different parenting approaches, here are my top three parenting books with the most tangible, practical and helpful advice for facing your toughest parenting challenges:

Parenting from the Inside Out by Daniel J. Siegel

If you're only going to read one parenting book, make it this one. Drawing on findings in neurobiology and attachment research, Dan Siegel spells out how your relationship with your child directly affects his brain development- it's truly fascinating!

Siegel argues that the key to "good" parenting is self-understanding. He explains why it's not so much what happened to you in childhood that impacts your parenting, but how you make sense of what happened to you. If you had a difficult childhood, but have come to make sense of and heal from those experiences, you are "not bound to create the same negative interactions with your child."

On the other hand, science has shown that if you haven't made sense of your childhood experiences, you're likely to unintentionally repeat the same negative patterns with your children.

If the thought of going to therapy and "working on your childhood" makes you cringe, don't fret! Siegel provides a step-by-step approach to gaining self-understanding and walks you through exactly how to make sense of your life so you can be a better parent. A must-read for all parents!

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

The title is a mouthful, but the book will teach you how to use fewer words and get more action out of your kids. Many of the issues we have with our kids come down to poor communication because, let's face it, most of us suck at communicating.

That sounds harsh and a little crass, but it's true. Though it's not meant to be shaming- being an effective communicator is hard! It's a skill that we need to be taught and that we have to work at in order to do well.

Faber and Mazlish give us a communication tutorial so we can both communicate more effectively and create more connection with our children. They teach us how to cope with our kids' negative feelings, express our anger without being hurtful, elicit our child's cooperation, set compassionate limits, use alternatives to punishment and resolve family conflicts peacefully.

It's easy to read, has written exercises to enhance your learning and includes illustrations depicting the do's and don'ts of communicating through relatable parenting situations. I often reference it when I find myself in a parenting rut and need a little refresher.

Growing from the Roots by Barbara Olinger

I cannot say enough wonderful things about Barbara. I had the pleasure of being in her mommy 'n me class when my son was a toddler and she's been my parent coach ever since. Any time I'm having a parenting-related struggle, I book a session with her and by the end of the session, I've gone from overwhelmed to empowered. She's a child development and parenting genius!

Growing from the Roots is Barbara's wisdom in book form. I've highlighted so many passages that my entire copy is yellow! Her thirty plus years of experience have taught her that children flourish when their needs are met and their needs are best met through guidance, not control.

She gives practical, easy-to-implement advice on how to provide guidance in a way that increases connection and supports your child's growth into a confident and compassionate adult.

She covers everything from how to handle tantrums and whining to how to set appropriate boundaries. If you follow me on Instagram, you'll notice that many of my parenting quotes are from Barbara- at least once a week, I reference Growing from the Roots for parenting inspiration and support. I know you'll be a super fan too!

I don't think there's any job other than being a parent that, despite the mountains of information available to us on how to be a good one, still feels confusing. Besides, who has time to read dozens of books? These three parenting books will give you a solid foundation from which you will better understand yourself, your child and how to parent effectively.

If you need extra support with your parenting challenges, CLICK HERE to schedule a FREE 30-minute strategy session. I can help decode your child's challenging behaviors and point you to right resources for support.

What are your favorite parenting books? Have you read any of these? Which ones have been the most helpful? Leave your comments below, the Sensory Mom community and I would love to hear from you!


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Hi! I'm Cameron, mom of two incredible, "differently-wired" boys who have sensory processing challenges, wife of a nerdy surfer, mindfulness practitioner and Parenting Coach with master's degrees in education and psychology.