Best Parenting Books for Young Children

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How can you figure out which parenting books are actually helpful? Check out this list of the best parenting books for young children.

If you browse Amazon or your local independent bookseller, you’ll find thousands of parenting books.  How do you figure out the good and the bad?

Well, fortunately, I read parenting books like it’s my job so I can give you some solid advice on which ones will fit your situation.

So check out this list of the best parenting books for young children.

Disclosure; This post contains affiliate links.  You can find more here.

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The Best Parenting Books for Parents of Young Children

In order for books to make it on my list, they need to meet certain requirements.

Here are my criteria:

  • Are solution-focused.
  • Avoid punitive measures and shaming.
  • Are based on the latest neurological research or are evidence-based.
  • Rely on positive and proactive methods.
  • Assume a lack of skills over lack of wills.
  • Support the ideas that discipline means teaching.

Raising Human Beings

If I could recommend just one book to parents, it’s this.  In Raising Human Beings, Dr. Ross Greene’s approach, Collaborative and Proactive Solutions, has changed the dynamic in my family

His method requires we treat our children like they are actually human beings, not somehow inferior.  This doesn’t mean being permissive; he definitely says parents need boundaries.

Instead, when a child is struggling with a boundary or another behavior, his strategies teaches the child how to respond more appropriately through a collaborative solution.

The Explosive Child

In Dr. Greene’s first book, The Explosive Child, he shows how this CPS model (see above) is especially effective for parenting children with explosive behavior.

If you have a child who struggles with big meltdowns, aggression, running away, or self-harm, this is the book for you.

If your child doesn’t respond to traditional consequences, this is the book for you.

You will feel heard as you read this book. It’s not your parenting.  You need a different approach.

Dr. Greene shares how this behavior comes from lagging skills.  He compares it to a learning disability.  If a child can’t read, we teach them the skills.  Same with behavior.  We teach them through a collaborative solution.

The Whole-Brain Child

Daniel Siegel, M.D and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D. collaborated on The Whole-Brain Child.  This book is based on the best and most current neuroscience.  Children’s brains don’t fully develop until their 20s and we need to take that into account as we raise them.

They offer 12 strategies in the book that are based in that science to help your child manage their thinking and feeling.

This book offers practical strategies in an easy to understand manner, yet it is evidenced-based.

There are comics throughout that teach the various strategies as well as a handy cheat sheet.

Raising Your Spirited Child

Are you struggling with tantrums and big feelings with your child? Does your child seem more intense, persistent, sensitive, or energetic than his or her peers? If so, you may be raising a spirited child.

In Raising Your Spirited Child, Mary Sheedy Kurcinka helps parents understand their child’s temperament and our own.  She explains how the clash in temperaments can be so challenging.

She gives us strategies for managing the intensity level of your child.  She focuses on how to leverage their strengths and funnel their energy.

She includes strategies for how to manage typical challenging situations like bedtimes, mealtimes, and holidays.

How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen

This book helps parents of children ages 2- 7 with practical strategies to communicate.  Joanna Faber and Julie King call How to Talk so Little Kids will Listen a survival guide for life with young children.

They start with a toolbox for common skills – managing emotions, gaining cooperation, resolving conflict, and more.

Then they delve into applications in typical situations. Mealtime battles. sibling rivalry and grocery shopping plus a dozen more situations get thorough coverage in this book.

Faber and King also include a chapter that address children with special needs like sensory processing disorder and autism spectrum disorder.  So if you’re parenting an atypical kiddo like me, you’ll find tips and tools in this book.

This book is relatable and funny. You feel like the authors are in your corner because they’ve made plenty of the mistakes we’ve all made.

How to Raise an Adult

it might seem funny to include a book about adulthood with parenting books for young children.  But that’s the whole point Julie Lythcott-Haims covers in How to Raise an Adult.

In this incredibly well-researched and yet practical book, Lythcott-Haims discussed how she noticed as a deal at Stanford a concerning rising in parent interference in school affairs and a steady decline in freshman’s abilities to self-manage and advocate.

Modern parents are overparenting and we need to let go more when our children are young in order for them to be successful as adults.  The author is empathetic as she has struggled with the same issues with her own children.

The truth she discovers is we need to do less to let our children be more successful – chores, laundry, phone calls, homework, and more.  While it seems easier in the long run to “help,” it’s actually quite detrimental in the long run.

So do yourself and your child a favor and get this book.

Best Parenting Books on my TBR List

These are books I’ve started then had to return to the library – haha! This list also includes books that I’ve heard recommended a number of times.  I’ll update this post as I’ve read them.

  • The Gift of Failure: I listened to at least have the audiobook before I had to return it.  Jessica Lahey makes a solid case for why it is essential that parents allow our child to fail fast and fail early when the stakes are low and the lessons are meaningful
  • UnSelfie: I also started this before I had to return it.  Then the pandemic hit.  The author explains how empathy is a huge advantage for kids to be successful in a self-absorbed world.
  • How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk: This is a classic.  I accidentally bought it and plan to read it soon since my oldest child is about the right age.  It teaches parents how to cope with a child’s negative feelings, set limits, and still have a strong relationship with our children.
  • No-Drama Discipline: In this book Dan Siegel, MD, author of The Whole-Brain Child helps parents understand that discipline means teaching not to punish.  Based on how the child’s brain makes connections according to how a parent responds, the book offers strategies to set limits in a calm and compassionate manner.


These parenting books offer great tools to help parents cope with a child’s behavior and teach strategies for improving a child’s self-control and self-management.

What is your favorite parenting book?

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