We all want to raise happy and healthy children. We want to be mindful of their emotions and respectful of their boundaries. But it isn’t always that simple. When you are rushing out for an appointment or pleading with a three-year-old to brush their teeth, it can be hard to remain calm and collected. Often we lose our cool. Now more than ever, as a society, we see the importance of well-being and positivity. So, how do we parent mindfully under pressure? Fear not: we have found the best gentle parenting books to help you gain the skills to be the kind, patient parent you want to be.
Related: The best wellbeing books for kids
What is gentle parenting?
Gentle parenting has taken social media by storm. However, the principles have been used by parents and guardians for decades. This evidence-based approach uses four key elements: respect, empathy, boundaries and understanding. Seems simple right? But what does that look like in a practical sense? Let us briefly explain:
You should try to understand why and where ‘bad’ behaviour came from instead of diving into punishment, shaming and correcting.
You should then approach the discipline from the perspective of teaching your children to handle situations in a better way in the future and finding a positive way to emit their negative emotions.
With gentle parenting, the aim is for you to have clear age-appropriate boundaries that your child adheres to rather than a long list of rules. These should be reaffirmed positively with love and compassion.
What are the benefits?
Unlike traditional authoritarianism, this ideology works based on mutual respect and gentleness. Researchers have found this approach helps a child’s young cognitive state to develop more healthily. Here is a list of benefits that have come from the use of gentle parenting:
Calm – If you and your child are calm, you’re likely to handle the situation better.
Intelligence – Some research has shown that children who have grown up in homes where gentle parenting is the technique used are more intelligent and do better at school.
Social skills – A child who understands boundaries is more likely to be confident and sociable.
Less anxiety – Research suggests that gentle parenting also may reduce the risk for anxiety.
The eight best gentle parenting books:
The Gentle Parenting Book
In The Gentle Parenting Book, Sarah Ockwell-Smith provides a combination of what-to-expect information with practical gentle-parenting solutions to the most common challenges faced by parents with young children.
Review: “Whatever questions you have about gentle parenting, the answers are in this book. The science is there. The experience is there. The trouble shooting is there. I found this book a great guide to walk alongside on my path to make the world a better place by helping my child to grow into a better person than I am while still growing better myself.”
The Whole-Brain Child
Neuroscientist Daniel J. Siegel and parenting expert Tina Payne Bryson have paired to explore the new science of how a child’s brain work and how it matures. This book gives clear explanations, age-appropriate strategies and illustrations that will help you explain and understand concepts.
Review: “The most useful parenting book read thus far. The authors clearly explain child developmental challenges with brain activity without deep diving into the science. If anything, reading this book makes you appreciate that our little ones can only do so much with the brain they have and it’s up to us as parents to guide them to realising their full potential over the years. You will become more patient with tantrums, patient that they prefer blue socks over green and you will appreciate sharing proper quality time which can only benefit us all! An excellent read. Very useful, easy to read, highly recommended.”
The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read
This book is hailed by the parenting community and has sold more than 1.3 million copies worldwide. The author Philippa Perry has been a psychotherapist for the past twenty years and uses her knowledge in this insightful book.
Review: “This is wonderful, not just for parents in the midst of raising kids. I’d recommend it too for people who ever had parents, and who want to make some sense of how they turned out the way they did. It’s a reflective, calm, and extremely helpful look at how we interact with each other, and why. It’s very grounded and kind, full of empathy and written with a deceptively light touch, and humour. It’s not a ‘hints and tips’ kind of book, but there are suggestions and exercises to help the reader understand themselves, and their close family, better. HIGH RECOMMEND.”
There’s No Such Thing As ‘Naughty’
In There’s No Such Thing As ‘Naughty’, mum to two young children and children’s mental health advocate, Kate Silverton, shares her new approach to parenting under-fives. This book includes strategies, easy-to-follow scripts and simple techniques to help you practice mental parenting.
Review: “An absolutely fantastic and insightful book into the growing brains of young people. It’s a fantastic book for parents, carers and even professionals. It is really helping me improve my knowledge of the brain functions of little minds!”
How To Talk So Little Kids Will Listen
This book is a survival manual on how to communicate effectively with children. The book also includes a chapter that addresses the needs of children with sensory processing or autism spectrum disorders.
Review: “I’d seen this book recommended several times but felt it might be a bit sanctimonious or “holier than thou”. I was wrong and wish I’d bought it earlier. This book has several useful strategies for dealing with small children and many of the tips are very practical and realistic. There is no expectation that parents will get it right every time and it’s nice that the authors are happy to admit to their own mistakes. As a result of reading this book my relationship with my 3 year old is so much better.”
The Child Development and Positive Parenting Master Class
Ekine-Ogunlana’s guidebook pinpoints key skills you need to develop happy children. With ideas and practical suggestions, it covers ages five to eighteen.
Review: “This book is really worth reading. There are so many ideas and suggestions that can help and assist people, with children, people who work with children and students (like myself) who are currently studying or have studied in a field around the development of children and teenagers.
“I really like how the book is easy to read and laid out and the points are clear and informative. I really recommend this book for parents, teachers, students and anyone that wants to learn how to develop greater relationships with children and teenagers.”
The Danish Way of Parenting
Denmark has been consistently voted one of the happiest countries in the world. So there is no surprise that many have looked to them for parenting and lifestyle tips. This revealing take on parenting advice will help parents from all walks of life raise the happiest, most well-adjusted kids in the world.
Review: “I got thrown into parenthood when meeting my partner and his then one-year-old daughter. This book helped me immensely in dealing with her toddler stage at 2 and 3 in a more calm and healthy way. If you want some guidance for being a better parent and enjoying the experience more, read this book!”
Nurture Your Child’s Emotional Intelligence
In this book, clinical psychologist and family therapist Dr Anne Lane provides a compass through that journey of uncertain emotional parenting. To help parents teach their children the crucial life skills that create emotional intelligence.
Review: “My kids have become more anxious and emotional during the last 2 years due to all the upheaval and uncertainty and this book gives some really good practical advice around helping them cope with feelings of anxiety and worry. It is very well written with loads of relatable examples, a definite 5 stars from me.”
Is it too late to start gentle parenting?
The great news is it is never too late to start gentle parenting! No matter how old your child is you can implement the skills used in these books to become the parent you have always dreamed you would be.