Gentle parenting books are gaining in popularity, and I, for one, am thrilled. People are starting to take notice that positive parenting is not a passing fad, but rather, a way of raising happy kids while doing no harm to them. Plus, there's now plenty of evidence that gentle parenting "works."
When we opt for positive discipline rather than punitive methods, we nurture the child's developing mind. When we parent gently, children feel safe to grow and thrive at their own pace. Kids will listen to people they trust, and when they no longer fear their parents, that trust grows naturally.
This greater trust offers us a paradigm shift from loving our kids unconditionally to also blessing them with unconditional parenting. It's not just what we feel for them; it's also what our children perceive we feel about them. How incredible it would feel to be raised in a home that feels full of love.
When we're calmer and more peaceful, we raise calmer children. This comes from a beautiful concept called co-regulation, which essentially means that when we set a peaceful emotional tone in our homes, our children reflect it back to us. We all want to enjoy our parenting journey, and being peaceful together is certainly part of that.
When we're a gentle parent and model being a good human, the result is that we end up raising good humans, too. I truly believe we can change the world for the better when we raise children who feel loved, respected, seen, and valued from the very beginning.
With that, I am humbled to announce the release of my first gentle parenting book. It's called Peaceful Discipline: Story Teaching, Brain Science & Better Behavior. I am SO excited to share this piece of my heart with you, and deeply appreciative that was named the #1 New Release for Parenting School-Age Children within its very first 24 hours of being available! It's within the top 50 in numerous other categories, as well, including Conflict Management, Popular Child Psychology, and Medical Child Psychology.
Here's some of the early feedback I've received, and for which I feel immense gratitude:
Offering a balance of science, practical experience, and new perspectives, Peaceful Discipline guides parents to a lifetime of easier, deeper, and stronger relationships with their kids. - Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D., New York Times Bestselling author of The Whole-Brain Child and No-Drama Discipline
Accessible, tender and wise, this book provides parents with actionable tips and strategies that will forge more connected and joyful relationships! - Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Additionally, here are some other gentle parenting books I recommend. I know many of these authors personally and can vouch for them being truly good and decent humans. I'd trust them with my child...and I'm extremely picky about who I trust to watch my child!
If you want to be a gentle parent — and you're here, so I'm guessing you do — you've come to the right place. Below are the gentle parenting books I've read and used in my own life as a parent. These are, in my experience, the best gentle parenting books available today. Many of them helped shape my own parenting methods and the advice I offer others.
Indeed, I know there are other books that might deserve to be on my list of best gentle parenting books. As soon as I read them, I'll add them here! I have a few on my list right now.
I've organized this list by age, but know that many of these books would apply to more than one age range.
These books are for children ages birth to about two or three.
No-Cry Sleep Solution: This is my favorite gentle sleep book; it's what I used with my own child and can vouch for it firsthand. Personally, I was uncomfortable leaving my crying baby without support, but I also didn't want to be exhausted 24x7. This is a very gentle approach to good sleep habits.
I hadn't specifically been looking for an attachment parenting book when I found this one, but Elizabeth Pantley's writing style simply felt right to me. It gave me the comfort and encouragement I needed (and I'm thankful to call her a real-life friend now)!
Note: Sometimes people ask why I haven't recommended Sarah Ockwell Smith. Full transparency: I didn't know about her when my child was a baby and just getting started with positive parenting. Now that I do know of her, I plan to go back and read all the books Sarah Ockwell Smith has written to ensure her parenting strategies align with mine. I suspect they do given what I've heard, but I won't recommend parenting books I haven't read.
Bottom Line for Baby: This is a wonderful evidence-based book to help you make informed decisions about baby's first year. Written by Tina Payne Bryson, PhD, who is truly a great resource on all things gentle parenting.
Parenting Right from the Start: Want to set the stage for a peaceful home early on? This helps get you there with specific parenting tools you can incorporate from the very beginning.
No Bad Kids: No Bad Kids is a fantastic primer for building a relationship based on mutual respect with your kids. This was one of the first respectful parenting books I ever read and it influenced the way I parent, and work, today.
Note: some people ask me which potty training book I recommend, and in all transparency, I never potty trained my child! After researching options, I felt that child-led toilet learning was best for our family. With this approach, my daughter was completely out of diapers, day and night, by age 2.5. I've made a mini-course about what we did. It's available here (and yes, that's my daughter with a clean training toilet stuck on her head like a very unfortunate hat).
Brain-Body Parenting: Dr. Mona Delahooke is among my favorite parenting authors.
The Power of Showing Up: Want a secure attachment with your child? Start here. Although the concepts are deeply rooted in attachment theory and science, it's also highly relatable and practical for day-to-day parenting. I highly recommend it.
Thrivers: If ever we needed this book and the next one, it's now. This book is instrumental in addressing the current mental health crisis and empowering our kids.
Nurture Your Child's Emotional Intelligence: This book will help you navigate the tricky territory of feelings, and help your child (and yourself!) nurture healthy relationships.
Whole-Brain Child: The Whole-Brain Child book was one of the first gentle parenting books I read, and. it's what convinced me that positive discipline was the way to go. I immediately read every other book that Drs. Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson wrote together, and I recommend all of them.
No-Drama Discipline: This gentle discipline book is full of practical tips you can use "in the moment." Plus, they're easy enough to use that you can remember and apply them to lots of different situations. It's extremely accessible.
How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen: How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen makes so much sense. I use many of its ideas every day in my parenting, even though my own child is out of the "little kid" stage. Many of the ideas are timeless.
Parenting from the Inside Out: This is great if you're working to re-parent yourself. It's not a "light" read, but when read with grace and compassion for yourself, it can help you heal your inner child as well as your relationship with your actual children.
Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: Dr. Laura Markham is an invaluable resource, and she also occasionally offers courses. When they're available, I note them on my social media posts, so check my Facebook and Instagram posts.
Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: This book by Dr. Laura Markham is hands down the best sibling rivalry book that I've read so far. It's compassionate, relatable, and incredibly practical.
The Danish Way of Parenting: This book is an essential primer for all things respectful parenting. Once we read it, it really feels illogical to treat our children with anything but respect. Helpful, clear, and world-changing, it's among my top recommendations.
The Explosive Child: If you have a child who expresses their big feelings in ways that may be concerning or overwhelming to you, this book can help you respond peacefully and in ways that help your child navigate their emotions effectively.
Spoiled Right: This book is a must if you're looking to simplify childhood and take the emphasis off screens. I love that it's not shaming at all for those of us who have used screens; rather, it gives us the science of what happens when we do, along with great alternatives.
Differently Wired: This is life-changing support in the very best ways for any caregiver of a neurodiverse child.
The Good News about Bad Behavior: Fantastic research-backed book about many common parenting struggles. It's the perfect blend of encouraging, practical, and informative.
Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me: This is a Christian perspective on corporal punishment and the lack of biblical support for it. It dispels many myths and is a wonderful support guide for parents who believe in offering their children grace and peaceful guidance.
Beyond Behaviors: A gold standard for helping adults look beneath the surface of their child's behaviors and understand what's really going on. Once we dig deeper, not only can we help our children more effectively, but we can live together more peacefully.
Tenacity in Children: Another must to combat the current children's mental health crisis. As parents, we can do specific things to increase our children's resiliency, and this book outlines them in such helpful ways.
It's Not About the Broccoli: Have a picky eater? This book can help your child become more adventurous in their diet without forcing them or using any outdated scare tactics. It can help them grow a healthy relationship with food.
Life Will Get Better: I love this holistic approach to addressing behavior issues from the inside out. Indeed, children have a whole body to consider: their nutrition, sleep, the way they're parented -- all of these play into what they "can" do in any given moment. This book is a beautiful and incredibly helpful guide with specific help for many situations.
Playful Parenting: Want to make parenting easier AND more fun? Here's your ticket to do that. The practical strategies herein won't add time or effort to your days; if anything, they'll decrease your power struggles.
The Opposite of Worry: I love this approach to reducing anxiety and fear; it makes so much sense and brings a greater sense of peace back to parenting.
The Addiction Inoculation: This book is a must-read for all parents and caregivers. It's not too early to make important and potentially life-saving changes in most homes.
What Do You Say?: How to Talk with Kids to Build Motivation, Stress Tolerance, and a Happy Home: The authors of this book are among two of my favorite humans I met last year. Their work is heartfelt and practical, and it's a sure way to build connection in the home. Highly recommend.
Parent Compass: Have a tween or teen and want them to feel fulfilled and happy in life? This is a must-read. It'll not only help set your relationship back on course if it's been feeling more challenging than necessary, but it will also help you support your child in a way that can help them truly thrive.
Brainstorm: This book is key to understanding the teenage brain and what we can do to support our relationships during this critical time in our child's development. The teen years are definitely NOT just about hormones. There's much more happening, and we can support our kids best if we understand the depth of the changes they're experiencing.
The Self-Driven Child: Another "must" for parents who want to raise capable and motivated children, while still being respectful and connection-based.
Hold On to Your Kids: Why parents relationships with their kids need to be paramount, overshadowing peer relationships. More than independence, your kids need YOU.
Parent Effectiveness Training: An amazing guide to help you really be able to hear your child's heart. It will help you learn to listen in whole new ways -- ways that can make all the difference for your ongoing relationship with your child.
The Gift of Failure: This book addresses why protecting our kids from their every challenge doesn't serve them well, and what to do about it. We can, indeed, support them in ways that are even better than always making life a breeze for them.
Sage Homeschooling: A great read for anyone considering alternatives to public or other common types of education. As a homeschooler myself, I can vouch for her approach.
Nonviolent Communication: This book is not specific to parenting, but parenting definitely benefits from this way of communicating. It can truly transform relationships.
The "Why" Behind Classroom Behaviors: A brilliant guide for educators based on meeting our students where they are, even in big groups. I regularly recommend this book to everyone in the field of education.
Creating Sensory Smart Classrooms: This book helps you understand children's sensory needs (we ALL have sensory needs) to make learning more effective. I firmly believe that this, and the book above, can help address the educational crisis.
I Walk with Vanessa: An anti-bullying picture book where the adult guides the narrative and can tailor it to their situation. All that's clear is that one child is being unkind to another; the adult can "translate" why that might be and discuss all aspects of social-emotional learning.
The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes: This is a truly perfect book for the perfectionist in all of us. It's sweet and funny and endearing while also being really clear that it's okay to be human.
I'm Gonna Like Me: I love this book for setting the foundation for high self-esteem and self-acceptance. It's silly and easy to read while still having a great message.
The Color Monster: This is a wonderful starter book for emotional intelligence. It helps children understand feelings and put names to them, which is a skill from which they'll benefit their whole lives.
The Kissing Hand: This is a great book for kids who may be struggling with separation anxiety or worries about starting school. It shows how we can stay connected even when we're apart.
The Invisible String: Similar to the book above, this book is a lovely way to address separation anxiety, worries about not being together, or even loss of a loved one. It's not exclusive to the school setting. My daughter and I used a concept similar to this before I even read this book and it helped immensely.
The Invisible Boy: This sweet book is for any child who ever felt they didn't fit in, or that they were essentially "invisible" when they really wanted someone to see and value them.
I Don't Like Birthday Parties: If you have a sensitive child, or a child with differences who doesn't thrive in noisy social settings, this lovely book will help them feel they're not alone. Plenty of kids feel this way for a wide variety of reasons. It can be really normal!
Beekle: Sometimes we just need the one "right" friend with whom we can really connect. This is a beautiful book for any child who's ever struggled to find their "someone," and to give them hope.
Big Brain Book: If your children want to learn how brains work, along with tons of interesting facts (yes, truly interesting for all ages!), I highly recommend this one. We love it.
Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: This is a really good book for any child (or adult) who feels they're "stuck" and can't learn new things. To the contrary, the brain is highly changeable through a concept called neuroplasticity. This book explains it in easy-to-understand terms for nearly all ages.
What To Do When You Feel Like Hitting: Although this book is geared toward toddlers, I recommend it to caregivers of children of nearly all ages. Even adults can benefit from many of the anger management strategies herein.
Bedtime Bible stories: These are very gentle but still interesting to older kids. The illustrations are beautiful, the message is rock solid for those who believe, and the stories are just the right length and level of detail for children.
Amazing Grace: I love this story of hope and inspiration. If your child has ever had a dream they thought might be unattainable, please read them this book.
Playing Possum: This is another of my favorite books for children who feel any degree of social anxiety or have trouble fitting in. Sensitive and/or introverted kids need to know they are fine just as they are, and this book helps them believe that. They just need to find others who "get" them.
Bloom: I'm (temporarily) closing out my list with a book that made me cry triumphant tears of gratitude the first time I read it. It's wonderfully empowering for the child who felt she was never good enough, strong enough, or brave enough to great things. Little did she know!
Reading the best gentle parenting books has been a big part of my life, personally, and I'm eternally grateful for the authors who've helped bring peace to my home.
If you prefer videos over gentle parenting books, you're also welcome to take my courses. This is one of my most popular videos to get you started. Below, you'll see how this approach has influenced my relationship with my own daughter, as well.
I'm wishing you peace in your home, and welcoming any questions and comments you may have about these recommendations!