Gentle Parenting Books to Help You Parent in Peace

Solutions exist, and these authors have the key.

gentle parenting books

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Research shows that many of the concepts surrounding gentle parenting methods prove it's a healthy and effective way to raise your children to become competent and confident adults. But the unfortunate reality is that this parenting method is foreign to many of us. Thankfully, books about gentle parenting are a great tool for teaching you how to parent in peace and create harmony in your household — and they're becoming more popular every year.

New Harbinger Publications ‘Raising Good Humans’ by Hunter Clarke-Fields, MSAE

‘Raising Good Humans’ by Hunter Clarke-Fields, MSAE

Be honest with yourself for a minute — are you a yeller? I know I've struggled with that. At my kids, at other cars on the highway, at Jeopardy contestants who should clearly know the answer given their occupation. I yell.

Raising Good Humans helps you learn to step back and be more proactive than reactive. It's one of the most popular books about gentle parenting because it does this so well. It's almost a step-by-step guide, but it's written in an extremely approachable way.

More: The Best Books for First-Time Parents

Penguin Life ‘The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read’ by Philippa Perry

‘The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read’ by Philippa Perry

Admittedly this book is more aspirational than most, but that’s kind of what’s so brilliant about it. Yes, it’s a gentle parenting book, but the author’s subtle humor helps you navigate the highs and lows of parenting with purpose in a way that just makes sense.

It's not as much of a guide as Raising Good Humans, but there is real value in how Perry understands boundaries and limits.

Workman Publishing Company ‘How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t with Your Kids’ by Carla Naumberg, PhD

‘How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t with Your Kids’ by Carla Naumberg, PhD

There's nothing that excites me more than evidence-based practice, and this book is full of it. Naumberg understands that at some point, it's going to hit the fan. She gives you concrete, honest advice for dealing with yourself while you deal with your kids.

How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t With Your Kids is an entertaining, enlightening parenting manual for a new generation of parents who want to be calmer than their own parents were.

Harmony ‘Scaffold Parenting’ by Harold S. Koplewicz, MD

‘Scaffold Parenting’ by Harold S. Koplewicz, MD

How can you use gentler parenting techniques to ensure you're setting your children up for success later in life? Enter Scaffold Parenting.

Dr. Koplewicz teaches you how to harness your own love to lay a foundation for your child to grow into a thriving adult. He uses a mix of personal anecdotes and scientific research to guide parents through raising their little ones.

Tarcher Perigee ‘The Danish Way of Parenting’ by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandhal

‘The Danish Way of Parenting’ by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandhal

You've probably heard by now that Danish people are the happiest people on Earth. This starts in childhood. With this book, you'll learn how time together, calm discipline, and strict boundaries make for the happiest and most confident people in the world.

And unlike other books espousing one country's method over another's, this book never feels braggy or preachy — it's just wonderfully informative.

Penguin Books ‘The Importance of Being Little’ by Erika Christakis

‘The Importance of Being Little’ by Erika Christakis

We are an achievement-obsessed culture. We expect so much from our children that we sometimes miss the point of childhood. This book takes that idea head-on and teaches parents about the power of play.

Christakis draws from evidence-based research to explore the idea of why parents should put away the virtual French tutor and just show up for their children in a meaningful way.

Tarcherperigee ‘Ready, Set, Go!’ by Sarah Ockwell-Smith

‘Ready, Set, Go!’ by Sarah Ockwell-Smith

Potty training darn near broke me. The hiding, the accidents, the laundry. It's all so trying. Ockwell-Smith gives fabulous advice for you as a parent and as the teacher to your child. It takes the stress out of potty training in a way most books just don't. It's thoughtful, informative, and very gentle.

Namaste Publishing ‘The Conscious Parent’ Shefali Tsabary, PhD

‘The Conscious Parent’ Shefali Tsabary, PhD

This was one of the first books about gentle parenting, and it remains one of the best. Tsabary spends a lot of time talking about why hierarchy is problematic, how we can parent outside of the normal systems of expectation, and how we can grow as people as we help our children grow into happy adults.

Bantam ‘The Whole-Brain Child’ by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson

‘The Whole-Brain Child’ by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson

If you're looking for a straightforward book of strategies to get you through the rough patches and help your developing child, this is your book. It gives 12 steps to help you and your child reach your potential. It simplifies the idea of gentle parenting by breaking it down into digestible bites of knowledge.

Bantam ‘No-Drama Discipline’ by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson

‘No-Drama Discipline’ by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson

A companion to The Whole Brain Child, this book teaches parents how to set boundaries and discipline their children so that they fully understand the problem without the usual accompanying hysterics you'd expect. It does just what the title tells you it will: it teaches you how to discipline without drama.

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books about gentle parenting

The decision to embrace gentle parenting was an extremely natural–although slightly unexpected–one. It felt right, and not just in a fluffy, emotional sense, either. The principles of positive discipline flowed naturally from everything I had studied in college about child development.

But I didn’t always feel that way.

Prior to having my daughter (and despite my academic background), I couldn’t really call myself an advocate of gentle parenting.

It just wasn’t how I was raised. It wasn’t something I was familiar with. It felt permissive and soft and unstructured. And at the time, it seemed obvious to me that the relationship between punishment and discipline was one so intimate the two terms might as well be synonymous.

Are you new to gentle parenting, or perhaps a little intrigued? Here's a list of the best gentle parenting books to read when what you've been doing isn't working. | Parenting Advice | Positive Discipline | Peaceful Parenting | Attachment Parenting | Discipline | Enforcing Boundaries | Empathy | Emotion Coaching

But something changed when I held my daughter in my arms. Her sweet helplessness pulled at my heartstrings, and over time I began to see children and childhood–and even myself–in a different light.

I used to perceive bad behavior as a child giving parents a hard time , but I’ve come to see it as a symptom of a child having a hard time. I used to think I was a person with little patience for misbehavior, but I quickly realized that I was simply a person with little patience .

They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result each time.

It’s no wonder, then, that parents are so often driven crazy by their kids!

As my daughter grew, I watched other parents discipline their children with punishments, spankings, time-outs, rewards, stickers, candy, training, and force. I saw a pattern in how kids responded to these things, and I became more and more convicted to try something different with my daughter.

If the discipline and parenting methods you’ve been relying on make you feel like you’re running around in circles…

If you’ve been trying to find patience with your kids but feel like you can’t possibly muster any more than you already have…

If parenting by the seat of your pants isn’t yielding the kind of results you’d like to be seeing…

If what “worked” with one child isn’t working with another…

It might be time to try something different.

Here are some tools and resources to help get you started:

Prefer audiobooks? Me too! They’re how I “read” and still get stuff done around the house. Get your subscription to audible here .

Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids by Dr. Laura Markham

I first “read” this title as an audiobook, and it was the first book on gentle parenting I ever read. From the first few sentences of this one, I was absolutely hooked (and Dr. Markham has a very soothing voice!).

books about gentle parenting

Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids is an amazing resource for anyone looking to understand the basics of gentle parenting. It was an informative, quick read, and Dr. Markham does an excellent job of emphasizing the equal importance of empathy and enforcing boundaries. Dr. Markham also made me realize the significant impact my response has on both my child and the efficacy of my discipline.

The Whole-Brain Child By Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

If you want an easy-to-digest explanation of the science behind gentle/positive/peaceful discipline, I’d have to recommend The Whole-Brain Child .

books about gentle parenting

The author, Dr. Siegel, is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the School of Medicine at UCLA and the founding co-director of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. So you can feel confident that the information he and his co-author, Dr. Tina Payne Bryson (who is also a psychotherapist) share is evidence-based.

I love this book not only because I enjoy geeking out to the science, but because the authors do a great job explaining why kids have meltdowns and misbehave. And guess what?

It’s not because they’re trying to drive us crazy!

When we understand the psychological limitations of a child acting out, it becomes easier to respond gently and effectively. If you struggle to find patience, this will be a great read for you.

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

Talking to our kids doesn’t seem like a complicated task, but most of us still don’t do a great job of it. This truth became apparent to me after just one chapter of this book! While my daughter isn’t really talking yet, this is a book I’ll be reading again and again in the future.

books about gentle parenting

Our words have the power to make or break the relationship we have with our child, so spending some serious time analyzing how we talk with our kids is something every parent should do. Frequently.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk does an excellent job breaking down the key elements of effective communication and highlighting how emotions drive a child’s behavior. There’s a reason The Boston Globe calls this book “the parenting Bible.”

There is even a version for little kids, ages 2-7: How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen.

If you’re a big audiobook fan, this is actually a title I’d recommend getting a hard copy of, since it helps to be able see the questions they ask you and to write down your responses.

Two Thousand Kisses A Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages & Stages

L.R. Knost is one of my favorite parenting authors, and while I haven’t read every one of her books, I can tell you they are full of real parenting truth–and some thought provoking quotes! If you check out my Attachment/Gentle Parenting board on Pinterest, you’ll see a lot of her words there.

books about gentle parenting

L.R. Knost’s insightful wisdom and careful emphasis on kindness, compassion, connection and empathy is refreshing in a world where so many parenting books rely on the same old routine of punishment and control. While her credentials are less “academic” than the authors mentioned so far (Knost is a mother of six), you wouldn’t be able to tell by the depth of her insight and the quality of her writing. L.R. Knost is also the author of The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline and Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood .


books about gentle parenting


books about gentle parenting

AVAILABLE FOR FREE: Thy Rod And Thy Staff They Comfort Me by Samuel Martin

books about gentle parenting

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Reading Rhapsody

The Ultimate List of the Best Gentle Parenting Books

Looking for the best books on gentle parenting? Look no further! From newborns to toddlers, there's a book here for every age and stage.

Looking for gentle parenting advice? Look no further!

I know that being a parent can be tough, but it's also one of the most rewarding things you'll ever do. That's why we've put together this list of the best gentle parenting books out there.

These books offer sage advice for dealing with common challenges that parents face. So whether you're just starting out or you've been at it for a while, these books will help you become a more gentle and effective parent.

Read on to learn more about these amazing, gentle parenting books.

How I Choose

Parenting is hard and there are so many books about it that it's hard to know which one to read.

It seems like every other day a new parenting book is released. How do you know which one to trust?

I've done the work for you! After reading through thousands of reviews from parents, I've compiled a list of the 5 best gentle parenting books. These books have been mentioned at least twice or more by experts and real parents, so you can be sure they're worth your time.

books about gentle parenting

The Whole-Brain Child

This book will introduce you to a new science of parenting, based on the child's brain. The authors are neuroscientists and parenting experts. They explore the latest research to show that children have a unique ability to learn and remember.

Why do I love this book?

If you're considering getting a parenting book, you've probably noticed that the authors of The Whole-Brain Child are both scientists and parents. Their best-selling book blends scientific research and parenting practices. It's easy to understand and provides practical solutions for parenting.

Their approach is based on research into brain development and focuses on the development of the four quadrants of the child's brain. They offer 12 strategies to help parents raise children who use their entire brain, which leads to a more balanced child with improved emotional and mental health. The authors use illustrations to clarify concepts and show parents how to cultivate their child's healthy emotional and intellectual growth.

What you should know

The Whole-Brain Child is a parenting guide that explores the science behind brain development and how it affects development. The authors of this book provide practical tips and strategies to help parents deal with the challenges of parenting a child. They also emphasize the importance of nurturing emotional connections with children. The book is geared toward parents but is also useful for teachers and other childcare providers.

The book explains the basic development of the brain, which can help parents understand their children better and respond to difficult situations more effectively. Understanding the basic processes of the brain will also help parents create a solid foundation for their child's mental, emotional, and social development.

The Whole-Brain Child is a New York Times best seller. It proposes twelve useful parenting tools based on neuroscience research. While these strategies may not be revolutionary, they are useful and can be adapted to any family's situation.

The book also highlights the importance of establishing a positive emotional state and fostering emotional intelligence. In their book, Siegel and Bryson introduce the concept of "Connect Through Conflict"—a technique that helps children understand others' points of view and encourages empathy.

books about gentle parenting

The 5 Love Languages of Children

Understanding your children's love languages is vital to nurturing a healthy relationship. Each child expresses their feelings differently, and these preferences can change from moment to moment and stage to stage. For example, a toddler who loves snuggles may turn into a seven-year-old who likes to roughhouse. Similarly, a child who enjoys praise may need more quality time. By paying attention to your child's moods and behaviors, you can keep your connection with your child strong and continuous.

The 5 Love Languages of Children is a book full of practical tips for parents and teachers on how to make their kids feel loved and secure. Every child expresses love in different ways, and identifying your child's language can help you build a strong foundation of trust with them.

While it is important for parents to know and understand their children's love languages, The 5 Love Languages of Children are not for everyone. Some readers may be turned off by the simplistic explanations and references to ineffective parenting practices. Those adults who believe that children must earn their love may also find this book too didactic. However, for those who have an open mind, this book can be an invaluable resource in strengthening relationships with children.

What should you know

If you're a parent, it can be helpful to know your child's love language so that you can communicate your love more effectively. This is important for raising secure and happy children. Love messages can be expressed in a number of ways, from physical touch to words of affirmation. Acts of service and quality time are also important ways to show children you care.

The most common love languages for children are hugging and kissing. However, your child may express love in other ways. For example, dads may love to spin their sons and daughters in the air. Moms, on the other hand, may want to spend time reading aloud to their toddlers.

One of the principles in the book is that actions speak louder than words. When you act in a way that shows your child that they matter to you, they will be more likely to respond positively to consequences. This doesn't mean that you should spoil them, though. Instead, try to find opportunities where an act of service will have the most impact on your child. For example, if your child has a hard time putting things together, try to help her. There are many different acts of service depending on your child's age.

Providing gifts for children who express their love for gifts is another important way to express your love. Children who express their love with gifts are often filled with this emotion. The perfect gift doesn't have to be expensive; you can give a thoughtful present that they will enjoy.

books about gentle parenting

The Montessori Baby

The Montessori Baby by Simone Davies and Junifa Uzodike is an amazing book for parents who are looking for a comprehensive guide to raising a child. It focuses on the principles of Dr. Maria Montessori and shows how to nurture a child from birth until he or she reaches the age of one.

The Montessori Baby is one of the best parenting books on the market. Using the child-led Montessori philosophy, Davies shows parents how to create daily rhythms and environments that encourage exploration. It's a beautiful, practical guide that helps parents create a peaceful, uncluttered home environment.

The Montessori philosophy is based on guiding your baby through the various stages of development. This book is a comprehensive guide on how to nurture your child and ensure that he or she grows into a healthy adult. The authors include practical, easy-to-follow instructions, as well as dozens of helpful exercises that help parents learn more about their baby and their environment. The book also includes tips on preparing for parenthood and becoming an active observer.

Another benefit of the Montessori method is the ability to listen to your child. This is easier if your body is still and calm. The author/illustrator team gives readers a fresh view of toddler life and routines. They include information about how to calmly listen to a toddler's voice and avoid a meltdown.

The Montessori philosophy also stresses the importance of reading to children. It helps develop language skills and brain development. In addition, the Montessori community recommends books that contain realistic pictures, black and white patterns, and faces. Reading aloud to your baby is a good way to engage your child and teach them about different emotions.

If you're thinking about adopting the Montessori method for your child, you might be wondering about how to get started. After all, this method is all about creating a prepared environment in which your baby can learn and develop in a safe and healthy environment. This book will help you get started on the right foot and will help you understand the philosophy behind the method.

First of all, you should respect your infant's wishes. This is an important step to take because you'll be creating a space in which your child is free to move. By doing this, you're preparing them for the real world and establishing a strong emotional bond with you. The Montessori approach focuses on providing your baby with plenty of safe places to play and explore.

Montessori is based on the concept that children's brains develop at a rapid pace in the early years. As such, the Montessori approach builds on this development and lays the foundations for future learning. Because infants' brains are still developing, it's best to keep things simple, which means putting out six to eight toys at a time. The rest can be tucked away for later use.

The Montessori approach can be a great fit for a variety of families, as long as everyone shares a common set of values and expectations. Parents with a disorganized or chaotic home environment may find the program frustrating, as the program is carefully structured. However, many children find comfort in this system and may cling to the structure and order that it provides.

books about gentle parenting

Gentle Discipline

If you're struggling with disciplining your child, Gentle Discipline may be just what you're looking for. This book uses positive consequences to break the cycle of blaming and shaming. It includes ideas and activities you can implement right now. It is helpful for parents of toddlers as well as school-age kids.

Gentle Discipline by Sarah Ockwell-Smith is an excellent guide for parents who want to guide their children with respect and kindness. The book's philosophy focuses on replacing punishments with connection and understanding. Ockwell-Smith offers helpful insights into the psychology of parenting and explains complicated parenting concepts in a straightforward and relatable style.

While discipline is an essential aspect of child-rearing, conventional techniques often fail to achieve their goal. Power struggles, shame, and frustration are all common outcomes. Sarah Ockwell-Smith's gentle approach breaks these negative stereotypes and provides solutions that will encourage your child's development.

Gentle discipline has the potential to create confident, independent, happy children. It also emphasizes boundaries that help your child feel secure. Instead of punishing your child for doing something wrong, gentle parenting encourages children to develop self-confidence, independence, and intelligence.

Gentle Discipline is a great book for parents who want to guide their children with respect instead of scolding and shaming them. It aims to replace punishments with connection and understanding. While the author is very low-key, she provides many helpful insights.

Gentle parenting requires calm communication and calm consequences. It also focuses on establishing a strong relationship based on empathy. As a parent, you must practice restraint, and follow through with firm discipline only when necessary. There are two kinds of discipline: emergency discipline and in-the-moment discipline.

While discipline is an essential part of child-rearing, conventional techniques of discipline can be damaging and have unintended consequences. The book offers practical solutions for parents of toddlers to school-age children. Its comprehensive approach to discipline helps parents of all age groups raise confident children.

books about gentle parenting

No-Drama Discipline

No Drama Discipline is one of the best books on parenting I have ever read. It is based on a scientific theory that the way we think affects how we act. It has a very practical approach to parenting and can help you to keep your children happy and focused. It is a must-read for parents and educators alike.

No Drama Discipline is a fantastic approach to child-rearing that focuses on the development of the whole brain. Although this approach can be complicated for parents who are not familiar with neurobiology, it is an incredibly practical approach to child-rearing. It focuses on the importance of communication and listening, as well as understanding how emotions can influence behavior.

It also offers parents practical strategies to resolve conflicts in a calm and effective way. The book explains how parents can help their children become happy while strengthening their bonds with their parents.

No Drama Discipline is based on Daniel Siegel's belief that discipline is about teaching, not punishing or giving a consequence. Instead of reacting to misbehavior, parenting should involve connecting with and redirecting the child. By following this two-step guideline, you can help your child develop the necessary skills to live a moral and ethical life.

When it comes to discipline, there are several key points that you should keep in mind. First, it's important to remember that discipline affects your relationship with your child, and also how they behave around others.

Moreover, it can teach your child to develop mindsight, or the ability to use insight to solve problems. It is also important to remember that discipline should never consist of lectures, and it should focus on connecting with your child.

No-Drama Discipline focuses on Whole-Brain Discipline, which is a great approach to child-rearing. But it's not always easy to understand neurobiology. Fortunately, this book provides simple and easy-to-apply strategies for dealing with your child's misbehavior and tears.

This is a great book for parents who want to improve their relationship with their children. It teaches practical strategies to parent children without triggering drama and conflict, and its realistic illustrations of young children make it easy to apply to your own family. The book explains how to connect with your child's brain and build a strong bond with your child.

The No-Drama Discipline method combines loving connection with firm boundaries. The goal is to teach your child to manage emotions and make good choices. It also teaches children to inhibit impulses and think about their behavior.

Honorable Mentions

even though I have already listed the top gentle parenting books. As an added bonus, here are a few other positive parenting books that didn't quite make the best list but I felt deserved to be mentioned for those who want to see what else is out there.

books about gentle parenting

This award-winning book was developed by an economist who noticed a need for reliable pregnancy advice. She analyzed the data and discovered that conventional wisdom about pregnancy was flawed. The result was Cribsheet. This book provides parents with the information they need to make the best decisions for their babies. This book is a must-have for any mother-to-be.

The book is written by Emily Oster, an economist who has studied pregnancy data and found that most of the conventional wisdom about pregnancy is wrong. She uses her expertise to empower parents to make the best decisions for their babies and stay sane in those early years before preschool. It has helped many families and new parents make the right decisions for their children.

It's hard to be an adult and raise a child. Giving birth and raising children are some of the most difficult challenges in life, and a crib sheet can be very helpful. However, many parents are too scared to let their kids do things they shouldn't. Luckily, there are several useful resources for parents.

While it's difficult to know what's best for your child, economic reasoning can provide a useful framework.

books about gentle parenting

Raising Good Humans

Raising Good Humans is an insightful book for parents who want to raise resilient, cooperative, and confident children. It teaches effective parenting strategies for parents who want their children to develop healthy habits and develop healthy relationships with their parents. It is a dense read, which can make it difficult for some readers to follow. This book also presents many exercises and real-life examples.

As a mom of three, Hunter Clarke-Fields has a unique perspective on parenting. Her expertise as a mindfulness coach, educator, and podcaster, allows her to share valuable tips and advice for parents. In this book, she discusses the benefits of mindful living and the techniques parents can use to help their children become good humans.

books about gentle parenting

1-2-3 Magic

The 1-2-3 Magic parenting program is one of the best-selling child discipline systems in the country, and it can help you create a better, more positive parenting experience for your child. This program uses a simple, time-tested method to get kids to listen to parents without talking back. Dr. Thomas Phelan, a registered clinical psychologist and child psychologist, developed this program and has been helping families for over 35 years. He also offers weekly online support to answer your questions.

The 1-2-3 Magic method is a highly effective parenting method that has been proven to work in millions of families around the world. It has helped many families in all types of situations, from single parents to families with children who act out when they're angry or frustrated. It also addresses the many issues that modern families are dealing with today.

books about gentle parenting

How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t with Your Kids

This book will give you the tools to calm down and keep your cool when your kids are acting up. The author uses mindfulness techniques to help parents get their shiz together. Her list of pressure points will help you recognize where you are losing it and give you tips for calming down.

Carla Naumburg is a writer, speaker, and parent coach. She has written several parenting books, including Ready, Set, Breathe, and Parenting in the Present Moment. Her work has appeared in several publications and on the Huffington Post. She lives outside of Boston with her two daughters and two cats.

Parents often feel frustrated when their kids don't follow instructions or push buttons. These emotions can lead to personal attacks. The author stresses that you need to get calm first before reconnecting with your children. If you are irate and expect your child to apologize or say something nice, they'll likely explode and say something that makes you angry.

books about gentle parenting

The Gentle Parenting Book

The gentle parenting style does not have rules or a label. Instead, it embraces the unique needs of each child and parent. It is based on current child psychology and science. Sarah Ockwell-Smith teaches you how to use this approach in your daily life. This book is a helpful tool for parents who are looking for a new way to parent. It is also a great resource for parents who are looking for new ways to bond with their children.

While many gentle parenting books present the child as a solitary individual, this book offers suggestions for how to help them learn how to live in the world without constant disruption. For example, it is important to remember that children are human beings and may feel anger and aggression. Therefore, it is important to remember that it is never too late to start a gentle parenting practice.

Gentle parenting is a child-rearing philosophy based on acknowledging your child's feelings and motivations behind challenging behavior. Gentle parenting aims to make parenting less painful and more effective for both you and your child. However, it is not a new concept. There are many resources that support this approach, including podcasts and books.

A gentle parent is one who holds firm boundaries but does so without overt incentives. They encourage children to learn how to regulate their own emotions and they are kind and conscientious. The gentle parenting approach marks a turning point from authoritative parenting, which often employs punishment and threats to achieve the desired result. It emphasizes the dual role of the parent as both an emotional security guard and a child psychologist.

If you're like me, you're always looking for the latest and greatest parenting advice. And if you're also like me, you don't have time to read every parenting book out there. So what's a busy parent to do? Based on questions I'm frequently asked by friends and family, check out this list of the best gentle parenting books.

Is gentle parenting really effective?

Yes, gentle parenting is really effective. It builds trust and strong relationships between parents and children, setting the stage for healthy communication and cooperation in the future.

"Gentle parenting" is a style of parenting that emphasizes nonviolent communication, empathy, and understanding. It's based on the belief that children are capable of self-regulation with positive guidance, and that parent-child relationships should be based on mutual respect rather than coercion or punishment (bad kids toddler discipline). Gentle parenting can be applied to babies as well as older children and can be used in conjunction with other discipline methods such as positive reinforcement or logical consequences.

How do I practice gentle parenting?

The best way to practice gentle parenting is to first become aware of your own anger and triggers, and then to learn how to respond calmly and lovingly even when you're feeling upset. It's also important to set boundaries with your child and to be consistent with both your expectations and your discipline.

Positive reinforcement is another key element of gentle parenting, as is providing opportunities for positive connection. This can involve things like reading together, playing games, or just taking walks outdoors. And finally, it's important to remember that mistakes are part of the learning process, so don't be too hard on yourself!

What are the best parenting books to read?

Some of the best parenting books to read are:

1. "The Baby Book" by Dr. Sears

2. "The Whole-Brain Child" by Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

3. "No Drama Discipline" by Dr. Dan Siegel

4. "Positive Discipline for Preschoolers" by Jane Nelson

5. "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk" by Elaine Mazlish and Adele Faber

What parenting style is "gentle parenting"?

There is no one answer to this question, as "gentle parenting" can mean different things to different people. In general, though, gentle parenting is a parenting style that emphasizes positive reinforcement, communication, and empathy over punishment and discipline.

Some of the defining principles of gentle parenting include trying to always meet a child's needs before meeting one's own needs, understanding that children are individuals with their own wants and needs, and using positive reinforcement rather than punishment to teach children right from wrong. Gentle parents also typically try to limit screen time and instead provide opportunities for unstructured playtime outdoors.

Is it too late to start gentle parenting?

It's never too late to start gentle parenting. In fact, the earlier you start, the better. But even if you've been struggling with your parenting for a while, it's not too late to change things up and get started on the gentle path.

The beauty of gentle parenting is that it's based on principles of mutual respect and connection. So, whether you're just starting out or you're already well into your journey as a parent, these principles can always be applied. And the more you apply them, the more rewarding your relationship with your child will be.

Why is gentle parenting so popular?

There are a few reasons why gentle parenting is so popular. First, gentle parenting is based on the idea that all humans have an innate desire to cooperate and connect with others. When we treat our children with gentleness and respect, we are communicating to them that we see them as equals who are worthy of our love and respect. This creates a strong foundation of trust, mutual respect, and cooperation between parent and child.

Second, gentle parenting is effective. Children who are raised with a gentle parenting approach are more likely to be successful in school, have better social skills, and be overall happier than their counterparts who were raised with a more traditional which can help to build healthier, more positive relationships in the future.

Second, gentle parenting is effective because it teaches children how to regulate their own emotions. When children learn how to effectively manage their feelings, they are less likely to act out or lash out in anger. Gentle parenting helps kids learn how to express themselves in healthy ways, which can lead to them being more successful in school and in their future relationships.

Third, gentle parenting is popular because it's affordable. You don't need to spend a lot of money on fancy toys or classes to implement a gentle parenting approach. All you really need is patience, empathy, and a whole lot of love.

What are the four types of parenting styles?

There are four types of parenting styles: authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and neglectful.

Authoritarian parents are strict and demanding. They have high expectations for their children, but they're not very responsive to their children's needs. Authoritative parents are both strict and responsive. They have high expectations for their children, and they make sure that they meet those expectations. Permissive parents are lenient and uninvolved. They allow their children to do whatever they want, and they don't expect much from them. Neglectful parents are uninvolved and unresponsive. They don't make any effort to parent their children or meet their needs.

Is gentle parenting the same as attachment parenting?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the approach you take to raising your child will depend largely on your own parenting style and preferences. However, gentle parenting and attachment parenting have a lot in common, as both approaches emphasize the importance of forming a strong emotional bond with your child and providing them with unconditional love and support.

Both gentle parenting and attachment parenting focuses on providing children with positive reinforcement, setting limits without using punishment or coercion, and respecting their autonomy. So if you're looking for an approach to parenting that emphasizes empathy and nurturing relationships, either gentle parenting or attachment parenting may be a good fit for you.

Is gentle parenting evidence-based?

Yes, gentle parenting is evidence-based. The evidence suggests that when children are consistently responded to with warmth, understanding, and patience, they tend to be happier, more secure, and better adjusted than children who are not. They also tend to have better mental health overall and are less likely to engage in problem behaviors as adolescents and adults.

There are many studies that support gentle parenting practices. For example, one study found that children who were raised with authoritative parenting (a form of gentle parenting) were less likely to engage in problem behavior at school than children who had been raised with authoritarian or permissive parenting styles. Another study found that the quality of the parent-child relationship was a stronger predictor of mental health outcomes than either parenting style or child temperament.

So if you're looking for an approach to parenting that is supported by evidence, gentle parenting may be a good fit for you!

What books should new parents read?

The 5 Love Languages of Children, The Wonder Weeks, How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen, and Listen so Kids Will Talk.

The 5 Love Languages of Children will help you learn how to communicate effectively with your child. The Wonder Weeks will help you understand your child's developmental milestones and what to expect each week. How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk will help you learn how to give effective feedback and resolve conflicts.

The right book for you!

And that’s a wrap! I hope you found this post helpful in your search for the best books for parenting children. Remember, it’s never too late to start implementing gentle parenting techniques in your home. So get reading and get started.

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books about gentle parenting

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The Gentle Parenting Book: How to raise calmer, happier children from birth to seven

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The Gentle Parenting Book: How to raise calmer, happier children from birth to seven Paperback – 8 March 2016

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  • Print length 320 pages
  • Language English
  • Publisher Piatkus
  • Publication date 8 March 2016
  • Dimensions 15.24 x 2.22 x 23.33 cm
  • ISBN-10 0349408726
  • ISBN-13 978-0349408729
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Reassuring, evidence-based advice on raising your child the gentle way The Gentle Parenting Book offers a step-by-step guide for parents looking for a gentler style of parenting. It is a method of parenting that embraces the needs of both parent and child, while being mindful of current science and child psychology. But this is not permissive parenting - boundaries and discipline play a crucial role in gentle parenting. In her trademark practical style, Sarah Ockwell-Smith provides a trustworthy combination of what-to-expect information and gentle-parenting solutions to the most common challenges faced by parents with young children, including coping with a crying baby, weaning and picky eating, potty training, starting nursery and school, sibling rivalry, tantrums, whining and sulking, aggressive behaviour and much more. And for parents who have previously used other, stricter, styles of parenting, there's plenty of advice - and reassurance - on making the transition to a gentler approach. The Gentle Parenting Book offers a much needed, balanced approach to raising happy, confident and respectful children.

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  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Piatkus; 1st edition (8 March 2016)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 320 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0349408726
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0349408729
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 15.24 x 2.22 x 23.33 cm
  • 105 in Sibling Relationships (Books)
  • 205 in Parenting & Family Reference
  • 230 in Fatherhood (Books)

About the author

books about gentle parenting

Sarah Ockwell-Smith

Sarah Ockwell-Smith is a mum of four adult children. She initially trained in Psychology and then worked for several years in Clinical Research and Development, before retraining as an Antenatal Teacher and Doula. She has worked as a parenting coach and speaker for the last twenty years.

Sarah has written fifteen parenting books, specialising in ‘gentle parenting’ methods, with her latest; "How to Raise a Teen" out in July.

Instagram: @sarahockwellsmith

Facebook: @sarahockwellsmithauthor

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PNW adventure mama, gentle parenting, natural homeschooling, and simple living mentor, and founder of Sage Family.

I'm Rachel,

books about gentle parenting

This might be my most requested blog post of all-time and for good reason. I have curated a collection below of about a dozen books that together cover all of the vital aspects of gentle parenting (also known as attachment, respectful, peaceful, positive, parenting). If I were designing a university program in parenting, this would be the book list. If my child were to become a parent, this stack would be my gift. I sincerely believe that if every parent read through the body work of work represented here, we could heal the world. So let’s do just that. 

Browse the stack or jump straight to your favorite.

  • The Attachment Parenting Book
  • The Conscious Parent
  • Simplicity Parenting
  • The Whole-Brain Child
  • Nonviolent Communication
  • The Self-Driven Child
  • Balanced and Barefoot
  • Raising Good Humans
  • Unconditional Parenting
  • The Explosive Child
  • Breaking Free of Childhood Anxiety and OCD
  • Differently Wired
  • Parenting for Social Change

Disclosure : When I recommend a product that I believe will add value for you, it may contain an affiliate link. When you click the link to make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

books about gentle parenting

1. The Attachment Parenting Book

I read The Attachment Parenting Book: A Commonsense Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Baby by Dr. William and Martha Sears in grad school after giving birth to my first baby and it gave life to all of the intuitive wisdom that had been screaming deep within me against all of the loud, controlling mainstream parenting advice of disconnection. The primary tenants of the approach are the 7 B’s: birth bonding, breastfeeding, baby wearing, bedding close to baby, belief in the language value of your baby’s cry, beware of baby trainers, and balance. They are a set of practices rooted in a a natural, evolutionary approach that sets up both baby and mother to thrive. This book will soften you and shift you into a harmonious alignment with your baby, forming a secure connection that can last a lifetime.

“To your baby, you are the best mother.” 

books about gentle parenting

2. The Conscious Parent

The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children by Shefali Tsabary is not a how-to book of parenting strategies but a philosophical guide for walking the parenting journey with mindfulness. I put down the book feeling like my mind just left a conscious parenting retreat, punctuated with moments of, “Ah, yes,” and feeling spiritually rejuvenated. I highly recommend this book for parents in the advanced class and still return to it every so often to recalibrate my soul and refocus on the real work of parenthood: tending to the invitation from our children to grow into our own enlightenment. 

“When you parent, it’s crucial you realize you aren’t raising a “mini me,” but a spirit throbbing with its own signature. For this reason, it’s important to separate who you are from who each of your children is. Children aren’t ours to possess or own in any way. When we know this in the depths of our soul, we tailor our raising of them to their needs, rather than molding them to fit our needs.”

books about gentle parenting

3. Simplicity Parenting

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne had me giving a standing ovation with a dramatic slow clap. It was describing a lot of the work I was doing with families and validating the powerfully positive effects I was seeing. Mainstream kids today exhibit a “soul fever” or “Cumulative Stress Reaction” similar to complex PTSD that pushes personality quirks into disorders, for which the antidote is to simplify the environment, rhythm, and schedule, and filter out the adult world.

The latter portion of the book dives into that last component and that is where my enthusiasm wanes. I work hard to advocate for integration (there is no adult versus child world—just the one world we all live in together), so while I wholeheartedly agree that it is in everyone’s best interest to simplify and be intentional about what content enhances everyone’s well-being, I wouldn’t recommend doing that by compartmentalizing life into two different worlds or by eliminating technology, which can be a value add. But overall, a worthy addition to the gentle parenting cannon.

You do not want to miss my podcast episode with Kim here —it’s a fan favorite.

“Quirk plus stress equals disorder.”

books about gentle parenting

4. The Whole-Brain Child

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Drs. Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson imparts a vital understanding of how your child’s brain works. If you’ve ever felt frustrated while trying to explain something logical to a child in the midst of big feelings, this is the piece you have been missing. They walk you through integrating left (logical) with right (emotional) and upstairs (evolved) with downstairs (caveman). What part of your child’s brain is activated right now? Only if you meet them there can you walk them to a more integrated state.

“It’s also crucial to keep in mind that no matter how nonsensical and frustrating our child’s feelings may seem to us, they are real and important to our child. It’s vital that we treat them as such in our response.”

books about gentle parenting

5. Nonviolent Communication

Marshall Rosenberg is the Mr. Rogers for adults and his book Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships gives life to all of the things I’ve spent my life trying to grow into and share with others. I want to live in the kind of world he advocates and the best way for me to create that reality is through my communication, especially with my children. The approach centers around identifying and communicating your feelings, needs, and requests and within such simplicity lies world-changing brilliance.

“Every criticism, judgment, diagnosis, and expression of anger is the tragic expression of an unmet need.”

The Self Driven Child

6. The Self-Driven Child

In  The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives , Dr. William Stixrud (a neuropsychologist) and Ned Johnson (a test prep specialist) provide the hard science, inspiring anecdotes, and practical how-to’s to get you out of your kid’s way. Children need agency to live fulfilling lives, so don’t be a manager, be a non-anxious consultant.

“‘It’s your call. I have confidence in your ability to make informed decisions about your own life and to learn from your mistakes.’”

The conversation I shared with both Bill and Ned in  episode 53 of the Sage Family podcast  is one of my all-time favorites.

books about gentle parenting

7. Balanced and Barefoot

Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children by Angela Hanscom is unique on this list in that it was written by a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of Timbernook, a nature-based developmental program. The author advocates for unstructured outdoor play as the necessary environment for optimal body, brain, and social development. But it goes beyond the obvious, even for us tree hugging parents. There is an epidemic of children who are lacking in basic human skills and these are the very skills that flourish with unstructured time spent in nature (proprioception and sensory integration, to name just a couple). Boiled down to one sentence I would say open the door and set your children free, and that may not be novel to you, but the depth to which that experience (or lack thereof) reaches into the seemingly unrelated challenges within your child is profound.

“In nature, children learn to take risks, overcome fears, make new friends, regulate emotions, and create imaginary worlds.”

books about gentle parenting

8. Raising Good Humans

Raising Good Humans, A Mindful Guide to Breaking the Cycle of Reactive Parenting and Raising Kind, Confident Kids by Hunter Clarke-Fields invites mindfulness into the parenting conversation, which is a significant and integral component of gentle parenting that is often overlooked. She shares personal examples from her own journey and practical methods from experts in the field to make mindfulness accessible to all of us.

Hunter joined me on the podcast for a quality content packed episode that you can hear here .

“Let’s be real: in our interactions with our kids, we’re usually trying to manipulate them—to make them do something. We need to change our way of thinking, from changing the other to expressing our own unmet needs.”

books about gentle parenting

9. Unconditional Parenting

Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason by Alfie Kohn serves to break down and unpack a whole lotta parenting baggage we bring to the table (false assumptions, beliefs, and expectations around the mainstream parenting paradigm). Spoiler alert: rewards and punishments do not work. But since this is such a foundational component to mainstream parenting that is so difficult to escape, it’s invaluably worthwhile understanding why—less of a how-to and more of a how and why not to.

Having the privilege of sharing conversation with Alfie Kohn for the Sage Family Podcast was quite a thrill. His passion is contagious! So be sure to listen to that episode right here .

“The way kids learn to make good decisions is by making decisions, not by following directions.”

books about gentle parenting

10. The Explosive Child

In The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children Dr. Ross Greene shares his evidence based, proactive and collaborative framework for parenting explosive children. You start by checking off lagging skills and listing unsolved problems ( this worksheet can help) and then you sit down with your child and move through 3 steps: empathy (“I’ve noticed that . . . “), define the problem (“my concern is . . .”), and invitation (“I wonder if there’s a way . . .”). The process helps you to prioritize challenges (you work on one at a time) and get realistic and mutually satisfactory solutions from your child. This approach feels good ethically and relationally and it works, whether it’s in your living room or a juvenile detention facility.

My podcast episode with him here was very informative.

“We’re going to assume that your child is lacking skills rather than motivation. We’re going to focus on problems rather than behaviors. We’re going to focus on solving those problems rather than on rewarding and punishing those behaviors. And we’re going to solve those problems proactively rather than in the heat of the moment.”

Breaking Free of Child Anxiety and OCD

11. Breaking Free of Child Anxiety and OCD

Breaking Free of Child Anxiety and OCD: A Scientifically Proven Program for Parents encourages reducing accommodations while increasing support. Accommodations are all of the adjustments we make to help our child avoid experiencing anxiety. The problem is that the more we avoid anxiety, the bigger it grows. So rather than trying to change our child, we change the way we respond to our child’s anxiety, which is fully in our sphere of control. We respond by accepting that anxiety is showing up while embodying total confidence that our child is safe within it. Our child gets to experience closing the loop—feeling the wave of anxiety move through them and not dying—which expands their whole world. They gain a felt sense of knowing they can feel big feelings and move through them.

My conversation with Eli was so juicy and good—heaps of real life examples and scripts from my own mothering journey alongside his clinical expertise. Give this episode a listen here for sure if anxiety is part of your family’s story.

“Support = Acceptance + Confidence”

books about gentle parenting

11. Differently Wired

Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World by Deborah Reber is for every parent who has ever felt like their child is a square peg and society’s expectations for them are a round hole. She shares her personal story raising her atypical kid but through that story she explores so many sides of that journey, all through a strength-based lens that leaves you feeling hopeful and not alone.

I had the pleasure of sharing a conversation with Debbie Reber who was such a joy and you can listen to that episode here .

“Not only are these differences not going away, but we as a society need the millions of neurodiverse children in the world today, with their powerful gifts, talents, and abilities, to flourish. Because they are the future.” 

books about gentle parenting

13. Parenting for Social Change

Parenting for S ocial Change: Transform Childhood, Transform the World by Teresa Graham Brett had been recommended to me several times over the years by people who know me and my work well, so after having it on my amazon list way too long, I finally dove in, and it exceeded my expectations. The writing style is not warm and fuzzy but it is efficient and effective. She combines research with her professional work in social justice and her personal journey as a mother to walk us from where most parents are now to where we all need to be and why, ending the cycle of oppression and changing the world for the better.

I consider Teresa a friend and that comes through in this episode of the Sage Family Podcast with her.

“The children who share our lives give us the opportunity to transform ourselves so that they can transform the world.”

And there it is my friends, at your request, the books that have been most impactful for me on my gentle parenting journey. It is my hope that you will order today the books from this list that you haven’t yet read and get that highlighter ready. To grow into our potential as people and parents, we have to be open minded to learning—evolving is good! And as we evolve ourselves, our children follow, and the effect ripples out exponentially. Books are powerful things in the hands of a person with an open heart and mind. I know that is you.

Feel free to comment below with your favorites!

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Those are some really great books that you mentioned. I heard about most of them on the list especially number 6.

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The Harsh Realm of “Gentle Parenting”

By Jessica Winter

Illustration of a mother trying to get her child to tie his shoes

Not far into her new book, “ Brain-Body Parenting ” (Harper Wave), the child psychologist Mona Delahooke makes a confession. She recalls a time when her three daughters were young and she often felt overwhelmed. “When my body budget was in a deficit,” she writes, “I’d sometimes say things I later regretted, projecting my own lack of internal resources onto my kids: ‘Hurry up! You’re making us late!’ ” Stress and exhaustion, she goes on, “turned me into an authoritarian and controlling mom.”

I paused over this. I went back and reread the paragraph from the beginning. I skimmed ahead for further disclosures of Delahooke’s authoritarian tendencies. But that was it: “Hurry up! You’re making us late!” As someone whose morning exercise takes the form of a power struggle over when and under what circumstances my five-year-old will put down his trains, put on his shoes, and leave for school, I knew, reading Delahooke, that I had entered a reality-distortion field, but I wasn’t sure which one of us was the agent of distortion.

Delahooke’s recommendations in “Brain-Body Parenting” hew closely to the child-rearing philosophy commonly known as “gentle parenting,” which has been the vogue among vigilant, trend-aware P.M.C. parents for some time. It has no official doctrine: writing in the Times , Jessica Grose called the approach “a sort of open-source mélange, interpreted and remixed by moms across the country.” It doesn’t even have an official name—“gentle parenting” is a catchall for variations that include “respectful parenting,” “mindful parenting,” and “intentional parenting.” In its broadest outlines, gentle parenting centers on acknowledging a child’s feelings and the motivations behind challenging behavior, as opposed to correcting the behavior itself. The gentle parent holds firm boundaries, gives a child choices instead of orders, and eschews rewards, punishments, and threats—no sticker charts, no time-outs, no “I will turn this car around right now .” Instead of issuing commands (“Put on your shoes!”), the parent strives to understand why a child is acting out in the first place (“What’s up, honey? You don’t want to put your shoes on?”) or, perhaps, narrates the problem (“You’re playing with your trains because putting on shoes doesn’t feel good”).

The gently parented child, the theory goes, learns to recognize and control her emotions because a caregiver is consistently affirming those emotions as real and important. The parent provides a model for keeping one’s cool, but no overt incentives for doing so—the kid becomes a person who is self-regulating, kind, and conscientious because she wants to be, not because it will result in ice cream. Gentle parenting represents a turn away from a still dominant progressive approach known as “authoritative parenting,” which likewise privileges emotional attunement but allows for positive and negative reinforcement. Authoritative parents may use time-outs and groundings, for example, which are discouraged by their gentle counterparts.

There is a lot to like about gentle parenting. Delahooke’s book is particularly strong when it illustrates the rudimentary rigging of children’s physiology: kids aren’t (yet) wired for compliance and self-control, so it’s only fair for adults with fully developed brains to show them patience and empathy. Inhaling the expertise on the subject—books by Delahooke and Sarah Ockwell-Smith (the author of “ How to Be a Calm Parent ” and “ The Gentle Parenting Book ”), the RIE -descended philosophy of Janet Lansbury’s “Unruffled” podcast, Robin Einzig’s “Visible Child” Facebook discussion group, Destiny Bennett’s TikToks, and the enormously popular Instagram tutorials of Becky Kennedy, a.k.a. Dr. Becky—has made me a more mindful, less reactive parent. It has changed how I speak to my children and how I attempt to negotiate tough moments with them, and for that I am grateful.

Still, across the parenting boards and the group texts, one can detect a certain restlessness. A fatigue is setting in: about the deference to a child’s every mood, the strict maintenance of emotional affect, the notion that trying to keep to a schedule could be “authoritarian.” Sometimes, the people are saying, a tantrum isn’t worthy of being placed upon a pedestal. Sometimes, they plead, their voices rising past a gentle threshold, you just need to put your freaking shoes on.

Because so much of parenting is a practical matter, the how-to aspects of the gentle-parenting industry hold the most appeal. Kennedy, whose book “ Good Inside ” will be published in September, offers adaptable scripts for typical conflicts. (When a kid lies about knocking down his brother’s block tower: “Well, if someone, not you, but someone did push down a tower . . . I think I’d understand. Having a brother is hard. Sharing is hard.”) Bennett, a Black voice in a field crowded with white women, often draws on interactions with her own children: in a TikTok video labelled “The most emotionally invalidating things I stopped saying to my kids,” she rattles off the verboten phrases—“I don’t care,” “You don’t listen”—while a sleepy toddler nestles against her. Her videos collectively garner millions of views, and, in part because she often seems to be working through her approaches in real time, her advice feels friendlier and less doctrinaire than that of some of her gentle-parenting peers.

Elsewhere, the prohibitions on certain words and phrases can feel paralyzing. The parenting coach Einzig warns against “The Dreaded and Dangerous WE,” as in “We don’t hit people” and “We don’t throw food.” “It’s condescending,” she explains. “Children notice that we don’t speak this way to adults, and they figure out that we think that children don’t deserve the same respect that we give adults.” Gentle-parenting advocates are near-unanimous in the view that a child should never be told that she “made Mommy sad”—she should focus on her internal weather rather than peering out the window. “Good job!” is usually not O.K., even if you corroborate why the job is good. “Because I said so” is never O.K., no matter how many times a child asks why she has to go to bed.

One of the major themes in “Brain-Body Parenting,” and in gentle-parenting discourse generally, is that children don’t defy for the sake of defiance, but that their challenging behavior is a physiological response to stress and should be seen as essentially adaptive. The assumption unto itself is questionable: if little Timmy is on the front lawn tossing gardening implements at traffic, his motivations are probably obscurer than stress. This is one of the most confounding dilemmas of parenting, especially as kids exit the toddler stage: that sometimes a child tests or destroys boundaries for the thrill of it. Under the gentle-parenting schema, a child’s every act must be seen through a lens of anxiety and threat-detection—which heightens the parent’s dual role of child psychologist and emotional-security guard.

And why does this child feel so threatened, so stressed? The answer might be found on an episode of “Unruffled,” in which Lansbury addresses a mother whose five-year-old keeps hitting and pinching his younger sister. “He doesn’t feel safe to open up and share himself,” Lansbury explains. “He feels attacked. He feels judged. He feels misunderstood. . . . He feels he has to defend himself rather than having his mother or father or both of them being really curious about what’s going on.” In a post from 2012, Lansbury adopts the perspective of a toddler with aggression issues. “If I keep repeating the behavior,” the imaginary toddler declares, “it’s because it doesn’t feel resolved for me. Either you aren’t being convincing enough, or you’re being too intense and emotional.” If, toddler-Lansbury goes on, “there’s anger in your voice when you say ‘Don’t hit!,’ it unnerves me and I’m compelled to keep behaving that way until you can give me a calmer response.” These scripts are an inversion of the look what you made me do school of authoritarian discipline: the child gets to be the one who will turn this car around right now .

For the most part, though, “Unruffled” is digital-audio Xanax; bingeing a few episodes always adds some levity, even serenity, to the day-to-day parenting project. To witness the true blame-Mom wing of gentle parenting, look to Einzig’s heavily moderated Facebook group, “Visible Child: Respectful/Mindful Parenting,” where the tone toward the parent-supplicants is one of weary passive-aggression edging into contemptuous disbelief. (Disclosure: I was blocked from “Visible Child” after objecting to a post in which Einzig expressed disdain for members of the group whose partners have authoritarian parenting styles.) Once, a mother asked about her young son, who hit and kicked her after she told him that she would be taking a break from playing with him to do some cleaning. “He’s telling you very clearly that right now he needs your presence,” Einzig replied—the housework should wait. (So much for setting firm boundaries.) She went on, “If you don’t want him to hit you (perfectly reasonable), look at your part in the things that result in that.”

What is bewildering about some tenets of gentle parenting is their presentation of a validated child as a solitary child, and a mother as only Mother. When Lansbury counsels the mother of a child who hits, there is no acknowledgment of the little sister’s experience being hit, even though she may also feel “attacked”; there is no expectation of her mother “being really curious about what’s going on” inside the girl after she’s been hit, no recognition that the girl may wonder why her brother hitting her should not be “judged,” no thought given to the social consequences of being known as a hitter or of how those consequences might adversely shape a child’s self-perception. The housework that Einzig says to put off is a synecdoche for everything that the gentle parent—and, perhaps, the gently parented child’s invisible siblings—must push aside in order to complete a transformation into a self-renouncing, perpetually present humanoid who has nothing but time and who is programmed for nothing but calm.

Delahooke, to her credit, never goes to such extremes. “Brain-Body Parenting” is a warm, forgiving book—there’s even a passage on the childhood importance of coziness, including an endorsement of hygge . That’s why it’s odd that she presents “Hurry up! You’re making us late!” as the stuff of a mommy-forum struggle session. Then again, catastrophizing such a small incident is useful, because it plants the grain of doubt. The reader may have assumed that her own parenting missteps were minor; now her tuning for major and minor has changed.

Last year, at a preschool birthday party on a playground, as kids whaled away at a piñata, I solidified a friendship with a fellow-parent—the father of two comprehensively delightful children—when we realized that we’ve both found ourselves trawling Wikipedia, late at night, trying to find serial killers who had O.K. childhoods. This form of sleep procrastination is, in its own disordered way, a means of lowering the parenting stakes, of reassuring ourselves that it takes vastly more than saying “good job” or yelling about shoes to do lasting damage to our kids. It is just as perversely soothing, perhaps, to consider the failures of our forebears. If members of Gen X can blame their high rates of depression and anxiety on latchkey parenting, and if millennials can blame their high rates of depression and anxiety on helicopter parenting, then perhaps a new generation can anticipate blaming their high rates of depression and anxiety on the overvalidation and undercorrection native to gentle parenting.

The business of parenting advice, though, is to raise the stakes—to say it’s all your fault, but that means you’re in control and you can fix it. In “ The Addiction Inoculation ,” from last year, the author Jessica Lahey presents steps that parents can take, starting in preschool, to lower their children’s odds of developing substance-abuse issues in adulthood; action items include “be specific in your praise,” “be honest with your praise,” and “don’t go overboard with your praise.” In “ The Child Code ,” also from 2021, Danielle Dick, a professor of psychology and genetics, promises to “help you identify your child’s unique genetic tendencies,” which “will enable you to influence the pathways through which their genes and environments intermingle across time to shape their development.”

This is child-rearing as brain surgery, and it’s everywhere in contemporary parenting literature. “Sensitive, attuned parenting helps build the brain architecture that leads to” resilience, Delahooke writes. One of Kennedy’s maxims warns, “When you orient a child to focus on the impact of her feelings on you instead of the reality of the feelings inside herself , you are wiring a child for co-dependency.” The aggregate effect is to encourage a dysmorphic sense of one’s own power as a parent ( If I say ‘Good job!’ it is more likely that my child will abuse drugs ) but also, at times, a kind of self-erasure in the name of equanimity ( If I show my kid that her shenanigans upset me, it is more likely that she will become a people-pleaser with low self-esteem, which will lead her to abuse drugs ). The essential enigma of parenting, though, is that you are responsible for your children and yet you can’t possibly be responsible for them. They are clay in your hands; they are the rocks that break your hands.

The other morning, like any morning, I was trying to coax my son away from his toys and out the door. I was sitting cross-legged across from him on the living-room rug, and, though my entreaties were gentle, they didn’t necessarily meet the strictest gentle-parenting standards. The algorithmic censor in my head kept pinging away. “C’mon, honey, we’re going to be late.” ( Hmm, are you suggesting that he is making you late? ) “You know that you don’t like to be late for school.” ( Hmm, a bit manipulative, no? Who are you to presume what he likes? ) “Don’t you want to see your friends?” ( Hmm, isn’t he showing you right now what he “wants”? ) He protested; he frowned and shook his head. I foresaw mornings past: raising my voice, dragging him out the door. And then, for reasons unknown, reasons that may or may not have had to do with anything that I have ever said or done or read, he got up and put his shoes on.

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The Best Books on Gentle Parenting for Beginners (2024) | A Guide to Getting Started

Are you interested in gentle parenting but feel like you don’t have any clue where to start? Here are the best books on gentle parenting, full of revolutionary strategies and tips for beginners to learn and confidently tackle the most common challenges other parents like you face. 

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This page may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link at no extra cost to you. Read the  full disclosure here .

Do you feel like parenting is a never-ending, overwhelming challenge? 

Or maybe you often feel frustrated and unsure of the right way to handle tantrums and other difficult situations with your child.

If so, gentle parenting might be just the thing for you.

At its core, gentle parenting is based on child psychology and promotes raising children through empathy and understanding rather than fear and control. 

It’s about turning what can often seem like an endless power struggle into something positive—helping your child grow in ways that are respectful to both their needs and yours. 

And while it takes time, effort, and patience to truly succeed in developing these skills, there are plenty of helpful books on the subject that can get you started right away!

It’s certainly not the easiest parenting strategy. 

In fact, it’s actually really hard!

And, it can be easy to fall back on old methods at the first sign of struggle.

But, the benefits are immeasurable if you’re willing to stick with it and always continue learning.

I am a firm believer in parenting with an approach that’s mindful of typical child development and it’s one of my few true passions in life.

That’s why I’ve created this guide: to provide parents, like you, who want to try something new with some direction and insight about gentle parenting through books that will help you get started towards being a more mindful parent.

In this post, we’ll look at some of the best books for beginners looking to explore gentle parenting strategies—from tips and tricks for managing your own triggers and stress levels to practical advice on handling various parent/child scenarios. 

By incorporating even a few of these gentle parenting methods into your daily routine, you will feel more connected with your child, develop more trust, and reap big benefits down the road.

This post is all about the best books on gentle parenting. 

Best Books on Gentle Parenting

BEST OVERALL:  “Good Inside: A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be” by Dr. Becky Kennedy

BEST FOR NEW PARENTS:   “Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting” by Janet Lansbury

BEST FOR BABIES:  “Your Self-Confident Baby: How to Encourage Your Child’s Natural Abilities — From the Very Start” by Magda Gerber and Allison Johnson

BEST FOR STRONG-WILLED CHILD:  “Brain-Body Parenting: How to Stop Managing Behavior and Start Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids” by Mona Delahooke

BEST FOR TODDLER PARENTS:   “Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason” by Alfie Kohn

BEST FOR TODDLER DISCIPLINE:   “No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame” by Janey Lansbury

BEST FOR COMMUNICATION SKILLS:  “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

BEST FOR OLDER CHILDREN:   “Raising Human Beings: Creating a Collaborative Partnership with Your Child” by Dr. Ross Greene

BEST FOR CYCLE BREAKERS:  “It’s Okay Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids” by Heather Shumaker

BEST FOR SIBLINGS:   “Siblings Without Rivalry” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

BEST FOR BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS:  No Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

​Best Overall

Good Inside: A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be

Good Inside: A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be by Dr. Becky Kennedy

Of course, every gentle parenting book in this post is incredibly valuable, but if you only have time for one, “Good Inside” by Dr. Becky Kennedy is our top pick. 

What sets it apart as one of the best parenting books is that it focuses not only on our children but also on ourselves because, let’s be honest, we’re their biggest role models!

Starting on a gentle parenting journey often requires us as parents to abandon some of our deepest instincts . 

This book covers a wide variety of topics like mindfulness, emotional regulation, effective communication, and discipline. 

Dr. Becky drives home the importance of self-care and encourages us parents to prioritize our own mental and emotional well-being. 

Her approach is so gentle and compassionate and she provides plenty of advice using real-life examples and exercises to help you understand your kids’ emotions, strengthen your relationships with them, and create a warm and nurturing home.

Overall, we highly recommend this book for any parent looking to be more mindful and effective. 

Best for New Parents

Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting

Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting by Janet Lansbury

This amazing gentle parenting book was the first one I discovered as a new parent and it completely changed my perspective on respectful parenting. 

I actually stumbled upon it while listening to Janet Lansbury’s podcast, “UnRuffled,” which I highly recommend checking out. 

At around 10 months old, my daughter started exploring everything, and I was in search of better ways to connect and communicate with her. To be honest, at first, I thought this book might not be practical because I grew up with more traditional parenting methods. But let me tell you, it has been a game-changer for our family.

Now, two years later, I have witnessed the incredible impact of this parenting style on our household. Our home is so much more peaceful compared to other households with toddlers. 

Seeing the great success this approach had in our home, I turned into a strong believer in respectful parenting.

So, even if you’re a bit skeptical, I encourage you to give this book a try, and really commit to the strategies. 

Trust me, it’s totally worth it!

Best for Babies

Your Self-Confident Baby: How to Encourage Your Child's Natural Abilities from the Very Start

Your Self-Confident Baby: How to Encourage Your Child’s Natural Abilities by Magda Gerber and Allison Johnson

Magda Gerber was truly ahead of her time when it came to parenting. 

She encouraged us to respect babies and children in ways that were almost unheard of back then. That’s why she founded RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) back in 1978. Her wisdom is invaluable and has shaped many gentle and respectful parenting strategies that are gaining popularity today. 

If you want to build a strong bond based on mutual respect with your child right from the start, then “Your Self-Confident Baby” is a must-read. 

This book will teach you how to connect with your little one, even from the earliest days as a newborn, understand their needs, and create an environment that nurtures their lifelong internal motivation.

Best for Strong-Willed Child

Brain-Body Parenting: How to Stop Managing Behavior and Start Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids

Brain-Body Parenting: How to Stop Managing Behavior and Start Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids by Mona Delahooke

Meet Dr. Mona Delahooke, a seasoned clinical psychologist and parenting expert dedicated to helping parents navigate challenging behaviors in their kids. 

She understands that parents often concentrate on managing behaviors like defiance and tantrums, but she wants to stress that these behaviors are mere symptoms, not the actual issue. 

This incredible book will walk you through understanding the deeper factors driving your child’s behavior. 

It equips you with valuable tools to support your child while also taking care of your own needs. 

By shifting your mindset away from the need for control and obedience, you’ll gain a better understanding of your child and create a more peaceful and loving home.

Best for Toddler Parents

Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason

Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason by Alfie Kohn

Instead of forcing our kids to do what we want (which is super hard if their needs aren’t met), let’s dive into “Unconditional Parenting” by Alfie Kohn . 

This book takes a fresh approach by putting our children’s needs first. 

Actually, most gentle-parenting solutions prioritize this idea too. 

Here’s the thing: When we meet our children’s needs, their behavior naturally falls into place. It might seem counterintuitive if you’re not used to a gentler approach, but trying to address the behavior without addressing the underlying need just doesn’t work. 

If their needs remain unmet, the behavior continues and may worsen as they desperately try to communicate with us.

Remember, all behavior is a way of expressing something. So instead of wondering, “How can I get my kid to behave?” this book helps us shift our focus to, “What can I do to meet the underlying needs my child is expressing through their behavior?” 

Identifying these needs might not always be straightforward, but that’s where this amazingly helpful resource from Alfie Kohn comes in.

Best for Toddler Discipline

No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame

No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame by Janet Lansbury

Many people misunderstand gentle parenting as being passive or not disciplining kids. 

But let me tell you, that’s not true at all! 

Gentle parenting is actually quite the opposite. 

If you’re a toddler parent and curious about positive discipline strategies, “No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame” by Janet Lansbury is a fantastic parenting book you should check out. 

It’s a follow-up to her previous work, “Elevating Child Care,” and both books are relatively short. I recommend reading them together to get the full picture. 

These books provide gentle parenting techniques that will help you become a better parent by seeing things from your toddler’s perspective and fostering a strong relationship with them based on respect and trust.

If you’re looking for a more in-depth understanding in a different format, Janey Lansbury also offers a fantastic  “No Bad Kids” Master Course  that does just that. 

Click here to learn more about this fantastic parenting course.  

books about gentle parenting

Best for Communication Skills

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

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

Looking for an awesome parenting book that can seriously make a difference? “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk” is a must-read!

No kidding, this book (plus its companion  “How To Talk So Little Kids Will Listen” ) completely transformed our lives.

Our 2-year-old? She was never “terrible”. 

She listened so well and was so cooperative, it blew people’s minds. And we owe it mostly to the communication strategies in this book.

Meanwhile, our friends constantly dealt with power struggles and tantrums with their toddlers.

Believe us, this book is a total game-changer.

It’s loaded with practical strategies to communicate effectively with kids in all kinds of situations and in ways they can totally get.

Once you’ve mastered the art of talking to kids in ways that make them feel heard and respected, they seriously start to listen.

[RELATED: How to Set Up the Perfect Calming Corner to Help Your Kids Navigate Their Big Feelings ]

Best for Older Kids

Raising Human Beings: Creating a Collaborative Partnership with Your Child

Raising Human Beings: Creating a Collaborative Partnership with Your Child by Dr. Ross Greene

Did you know that it’s totally possible to raise your kids without punishments and still help them develop the discipline you hope for? They may even develop better self-discipline when they know they have endless support. 

Positive parenting is all about creating a nurturing environment where kids naturally follow the example of those they are connected to.  And yes, if you focus on building a strong connection rather than a more authoritarian style of parenting, they will follow rather than turn away from you. 

If you want to improve your relationship with your kids and raise happy, confident, and self-assured individuals, I highly recommend reading “Raising Human Beings” by Dr. Ross Greene . This book dives into many tough experiences and decisions parents face while raising their kids.

Dr. Greene emphasizes the importance of understanding your child’s unique personality, values, and skills, and then guiding them to pursue a life that aligns with who they truly are. It’s all about finding the right balance between influence and allowing them to be their own independent selves.

As a 32-year-old with an identity crisis, I’m finally figuring out who I am. I’ve learned that living in alignment with my values and personality is key. It would have saved me years of therapy, depression, and anxiety if I had embraced my true self earlier instead of molding myself into someone others wanted me to be. Trust me, you don’t want your kids to live their lives constantly trying to make you happy at the expense of their own happiness.  Allowing your children to be themselves (even if it’s not the child you imagined) and guiding them to live a life in alignment with their true identity is definitely the best way to go. 

Best for Cycle Breakers

It's Ok Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids

It’s Okay Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids by Heather Shumaker

Have you ever wondered why we set limits for our kids? 

Like, are these limits really important to us, or are we just following what society expects from us?

I recently came across this book called “It’s Okay Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids” which really dives into this topic. 

It challenges us to be more conscious parents, rethink the reasons behind the rules we set for our children, and consider their overall development.

I mean, sometimes I see parents setting all these unnecessary limits, like what pajamas their kids wear to bed or how they’re allowed to play with their own toys. It feels a bit excessive, don’t you think?

Ideally, we’d all love to give our kids as much freedom as possible. If we let them have some control over their own lives (within reason, of course, some limits are actually good!) and don’t overwhelm them with endless rules to remember and follow, they’re more likely to cooperate with the ones that truly matter.

Best for Siblings

Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too

Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Adding a new sibling to the family can be tough for everyone, especially your older child. 

Lots of parents struggle with their toddler’s behavior during this transition so if this is the position you’re in, you’re not alone. 

But, if you handle it well, this challenging phase can pass quickly. 

Most of your older child’s difficult behavior stems from the need to feel they are still important and loved. 

Punishments and shame won’t do the trick; they need your understanding. 

That’s where “Siblings without Rivalry” comes in. This book helps you tackle those sibling rivalry issues head-on and teaches you how to create a supportive environment that welcomes all feelings. 

Reading it will help you become a more peaceful parent, making a big difference in your home dynamic and setting you up for success.

Best for Behavior Problems

No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind

No Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

“No-Drama Discipline” by Daniel Siegel (also the author of “The Whole-Brain Child” ) and Tina Payne Bryson is a fantastic resource for parents. 

It delves into understanding your child’s developing mind and guides how to respond with positive connection effectively. 

The book emphasizes that traditional disciplinary methods based on punishment and criticism can actually hinder learning and problem-solving in young minds. 

Instead, it offers alternative approaches that allow your child to feel acknowledged, listened to, and understood, ultimately leading to more positive behavior over time.

Moreover, this book offers valuable insights into how you, as a parent, can manage your own emotions during challenging moments, enabling you to respond more calmly and constructively.

By implementing the strategies outlined in this book, you’ll be able to create a nurturing environment where your children can learn to handle challenges and emotions in a positive way.

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10 Best Gentle Parenting Books to Raise Happy and Healthy Kids

If you’re looking for an approach to parenting that emphasizes empathy, connection, and mutual respect, then gentle parenting might just be the right fit for you. But making the transition to a gentler style of parenting can be challenging without some guidance. In this article, we’ll introduce you to the core principles of gentle parenting and provide you with a list of the ten best gentle parenting books to help you on your journey.

What is Gentle Parenting and Why is it Important?

Gentle parenting is a compassionate and empathetic method of parenting that prioritizes the emotional well-being of both the parent and the child. It is an approach that emphasizes communication, connection, and understanding over punishment, control, and coercion. Gentle parenting is all about fostering a close, respectful, and loving relationship with your child and meeting their needs in a way that promotes their growth and development.

Research has shown that gentle parenting techniques can lead to better mental health outcomes for children, including lower levels of anxiety, depression, and aggression. Moreover, when parents adopt gentle parenting techniques, they are also more likely to experience reduced stress and improved mental health.

The Core Principles of Gentle Parenting

The core principles of gentle parenting are rooted in empathy, understanding, respect, and non-violence. These principles include:

  • Responding to your child’s needs and emotions with empathy and understanding.
  • Communicating with your child in a clear and respectful way.
  • Setting healthy boundaries with empathy and respect .
  • Avoiding punitive measures and instead using natural or logical consequences.
  • Acknowledging and validating your child’s feelings.
  • Fostering a strong and positive parent-child relationship.

One of the key aspects of gentle parenting is responding to your child’s needs and emotions with empathy and understanding. This means taking the time to really listen to your child and understand where they are coming from, even if you don’t agree with them. By doing this, you are showing your child that you value their feelings and opinions, and that you are there to support them.

Another important principle of gentle parenting is setting healthy boundaries with empathy and respect. This means being clear about your expectations and limits, while also being willing to listen to your child’s needs and concerns. By doing this, you are creating a safe and secure environment for your child, where they can feel comfortable expressing themselves and exploring the world around them.

The Benefits of Gentle Parenting for Children and Parents

Gentle parenting has been shown to have several benefits for both children and parents. For children, this approach can lead to:

  • Lower levels of stress and anxiety
  • Higher levels of emotional intelligence and self-regulation
  • Better social skills and development
  • A stronger parent-child bond

When children feel heard and understood, they are more likely to develop a sense of emotional intelligence and self-regulation. This means that they are better able to identify and manage their emotions, which can lead to lower levels of stress and anxiety. Additionally, when parents use gentle parenting techniques, they are more likely to foster a strong and positive parent-child bond, which can lead to better social skills and development.

For parents, gentle parenting can also have several benefits. By using gentle parenting techniques, parents are more likely to experience reduced levels of stress and anxiety, as well as increased confidence as a parent. This is because gentle parenting is all about building a strong and positive relationship with your child, which can lead to a more positive and cooperative relationship overall.

In conclusion, gentle parenting is an approach to parenting that prioritizes empathy, understanding, and respect. By using gentle parenting techniques, parents can create a safe and secure environment for their child, which can lead to better mental health outcomes for both the child and the parent. So, if you’re looking for a more compassionate and empathetic way to parent your child, consider giving gentle parenting a try.

Top 10 Gentle Parenting Books

If you’re interested in learning more about gentle parenting, there are several excellent books on the subject. Gentle parenting is an approach to parenting that emphasizes empathy, connection, and positive discipline techniques. It is based on the idea that children thrive when they feel loved, respected, and heard. Here are our top 10 picks:

The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

This book provides parents with practical strategies for nurturing their child’s developing brain. The authors describe various brain development stages and provide tools to help parents support their child’s growth and self-regulation. The book emphasizes the importance of understanding a child’s brain development in order to effectively communicate and connect with them. The authors also provide tips for helping children manage their emotions and navigate difficult situations.

You can find this book here .

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

A classic in the parenting genre, this book provides parents with effective communication strategies for connecting with their children in a positive and respectful way. The authors emphasize the importance of active listening and validating a child’s feelings. The book also provides tips for problem-solving and conflict resolution.

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross

In this book, the authors provide parents with a roadmap for simplifying their child’s environment, routines, and schedules, leading to a happier, less anxious child. The book emphasizes the importance of creating a calm and predictable home environment for children. The authors also provide tips for fostering creativity and imagination in children.

No-Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

This book provides parents with effective strategies for disciplining their child without resorting to punishment or yelling. The authors encourage parents to connect with their child and use discipline as an opportunity for learning and growth. The book emphasizes the importance of empathy and understanding a child’s perspective. The authors also provide tips for setting limits and boundaries in a respectful way.

The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell

This book explains the five love languages that children use to express and receive love and provides parents with strategies for connecting with their child in a way that is meaningful to them. The book emphasizes the importance of understanding a child’s unique personality and needs. The authors also provide tips for creating a loving and supportive home environment.

Parenting with Love and Logic by Charles Fay and Foster Cline

This book provides parents with a framework for setting firm and loving boundaries with their child, allowing them to develop responsibility and self-discipline. The authors emphasize the importance of natural consequences and allow children to learn from their mistakes. The book also provides tips for fostering independence and problem-solving skills in children.

The Gentle Parent by L.R. Knost

In this book, the author provides parents with a roadmap for practicing gentle parenting, including how to respond to a child’s emotions, how to effectively communicate with them, and how to set healthy boundaries. The book emphasizes the importance of building a strong and loving relationship with a child. The author also provides tips for fostering empathy and emotional intelligence in children.

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Dr. Laura Markham

This book provides parents with practical strategies for connecting with their child in a way that promotes their emotional well-being. The author emphasizes empathy, connection, and communication as the keys to successful parenting. The book also provides tips for managing difficult behaviors and fostering positive self-esteem in children.

Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

In this book, the author provides parents with strategies for parenting a child with a strong-willed or “spirited” temperament. The book emphasizes the importance of understanding and acknowledging a child’s unique temperament in order to develop a positive relationship . The author also provides tips for managing challenging behaviors and helping children thrive.

The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabary

In this book, the author challenges traditional parenting philosophies and encourages parents to see their child as a unique individual with their own thoughts, emotions, and desires. The book provides strategies for cultivating a strong and authentic parent-child relationship. The author emphasizes the importance of mindfulness and self-awareness in parenting. The book also provides tips for fostering emotional intelligence and resilience in children.

These books provide parents with a wealth of information and practical strategies for practicing gentle parenting. By emphasizing empathy, connection, and positive discipline techniques, parents can create a loving and supportive home environment that promotes their child’s emotional well-being and overall development. Whether you’re a new parent or an experienced one, these books are a must-read for anyone interested in gentle parenting .

Tips for Implementing Gentle Parenting Techniques

If you’re interested in implementing gentle parenting techniques in your own home, here are some tips for getting started:

Establishing a Strong Parent-Child Connection

The foundation of gentle parenting is a strong and positive relationship with your child. To build this connection, focus on spending quality time with your child, listening to them, and responding to their needs with empathy and understanding.

Encouraging Emotional Intelligence

Gentle parenting emphasizes the importance of emotional intelligence. To help your child develop this skill, encourage them to recognize and name their feelings, validate their emotions, and teach them healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with difficult emotions.

Setting Boundaries with Empathy and Respect

In gentle parenting, boundaries are set with empathy and respect rather than punishment and control. To set healthy boundaries with your child, communicate your expectations clearly and respectfully, be consistent, and respond to any breaches with natural or logical consequences.

By following these tips and learning from the top gentle parenting books , you’ll be equipped with the tools you need to raise happy and healthy kids through a compassionate and empathetic approach to parenting.

What is gentle parenting?

Gentle parenting is a method of parenting that focuses on empathy and respect, and refuses to implement harsh rules and shouting.

What is the difference between gentle parenting and Montessori parenting?

Gentle parenting still includes disciplining children, whereas Montessori parenting allows children to roam free without rules.

What are the best books on gentle parenting?

The Gentle Parenting Book by Sarah Ockwell-Smith, How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen by Julie King, and Raising Good Humans by Hunter Clarke-Fields are all great options.

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5 Essential Books on Gentle Parenting to Get You Started

a mom and daughter sitting on a couch, touching forheads, gentle parenting

These gentle parenting books can help you foster trust, empathy, and respect with your kids

When it comes to parenting there’s no one right way to do it. But if raising kids with empathy , respect, and kindness is at the forefront of your parenting strategy, gentle parenting just might be your thing. It focuses on positive communication, and encourages parents to trade discipline and punishment for kindness and understanding to shape behavior and support kids through some of those tougher stages (we’re looking at you, terrible twos and threenage years). Trust, respect, and open communication are the pillars of this theory. The end goal is mutual respect and trust between kids and parents. Curious to learn how you can incorporate these strategies into your everyday? Break open one of these gentle parenting books and get reading.

whole brain child book cover is a gentle parenting book

1. The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson

If you’re parenting a toddler we bet you’ve figured out that using logic to temper their tantrums is about as effective as renaming broccoli “magical trees” to get your kid to eat a vegetable. In The Whole-Brain Child,  neuropsychiatrist, Daniel J. Siegel, and parenting expert, Tina Payne Bryson, team up to explain brain development in kids in an easily accessible way for parents. They also offer 12 key strategies to raising happier, calmer kids.

Buy it here , $13

parenting with love and logic book cover has been around for a long time as a gentle parenting books

2. Parenting with Love and Logic by Charles Fay & Foster Cline

The Love and Logic approach to raising responsible kids isn’t a new one. In fact, it’s been around for 45 years. But even if you’ve read this one before, a refresher never hurts, especially since the Love and Logic principles can be applied from toddler through teen years. Focused on empowering children to make their own decisions without ceding parental authority, what you’ll find in these pages helps you pair natural consequences with empathetic listening.

Buy it here, $17

Related: 10 Books That Will Help Your Kids with Their Social & Emotional Growth

the concious parent book cover gentle parenting books to know

3. The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabary

If you’re looking for a different take on parenting, try The Conscious Parent . Dr. Shelfali Tsabary explains that although many parents believe it’s our responsibility to mold our kids through discipline and consequences, it’s actually quite the opposite. In this book she show that “our children are born to us to create deep internal transformation within us.” One read will help you embrace a more mindful, conscious approach to parenting.

Buy it here , $10

gentle parenting book the peaceful parent cover with a mom and child smiling at each other

4. Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Dr. Laura Markham

The subtitle of this book says it all—how to stop yelling and start connecting. In it, mom and clinical psycholgist, Dr. Laura Markham, uses brain science and experience to give parents practical tools that help them develop strong, loving connections with their kids. If you’re looking for that Aha! parenting moment, the strategies outlined in this book can lead the way.

Buy it here , $12

book cover for no drama discipline with mom and kid in blue showing gentle parenting

5. No-Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson

Written by the same team that brought you the first book on our list, No-Drama Discipline gives parents the tools they need to help their kids learn from their mistakes and develop self-control. It provides an “effective, compassionate road map for dealing with tantrums, tensions, and tears—without causing a scene.” Sounds too good to be true, right? Give it a read to find out.

Buy it here , $12.50

Related: 5 Ways to Deal with Toddler Tantrums without Losing Your Cool

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8 Best Positive and Gentle Parenting Books for Toddlers’ Parents

  • July 28, 2022


  • 9 minutes read

Parenting is a challenging and overwhelming journey , especially during the toddler phase. You need to be present, forgiving, active listening, and communicative beyond the running things  while your kids cannot talk back well. I bought many parenting books, from the psychological book to the practical book like what can not eat and step-by-step potty training. To be honest, there are too many parenting books and easily lost. After all, there are 9 parenting books I would like to share. These books focus on positive and gentle parenting way, they helped me gain valuable insights into kids’ brain development and keep positive attitude.

books about gentle parenting

Table of Contents

Children Are Our Mirrors

The more I read along the parenting way. The more leads back to my own behaviors and inner part of me. If you turn on the TV, they will enjoy sitting on the couch. If you read at home, they will read books as well.

“Children are mirrors; they will always show you exactly what is going on inside of you. Each phase of their growth is an opportunity to heal your own pain, to go deeper inside yourself and become more truly human.” ―  Vimala McClure,  The Tao of Motherhood

In short, we need to become the person that we want to educate our kids. To educate our kids, we need to educate ourselves as well.

Toddler Development Milestones According to CDC

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has published a kids’ development milestones checklist per age. The milestones are selected based on what most children (≥75%) would be expected to achieve in four aspects, Social / Emotional milestones, Language / Communication Milestones, Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving) Milestones, and Movement/Physical Development Milestones. For toddlers, the development milestones are as follows .

books about gentle parenting

Know Your Parenting Styles

Parenting styles are associated with kids’ outcomes, Parenting styles are associated with different child outcomes. In the 1960s, psychologist Diana Baumrind identified four parenting styles based on control and warmth.

In the US , roughly 46% of parents use an authoritative parenting style, 26% authoritarian parenting style (also listed as lighthouse parenting positive parenting or gentle parenting), 18% permissive parenting style, and 10% neglectful parenting style. Except parents themselves, culture and social influences, also play an important role in parenting styles. ​​

The authoritative style is generally linked to positive parenting, similar with gentle parenting and lighthouse parenting, it focuses on the positive behaviors such as communication and discipline.

books about gentle parenting

8 Best Books for Positive and Gentle Parenting

1. getting things done.

You may wonder if this is not a particular parenting book, but it is almost my working guideline. As a toddler’s parent, you are too busy and easy to forget things. I have forgotten many appointments, bills to pay, and things to buy. My head has too much stuff and is easily distracted. You must be very efficient in dealing with daily activities. I highly recommend this book if you are a single parent or your spouse is super busy.

books about gentle parenting

My two biggest take away from this book are:

  • Do not rely on your memories. Start a to-do list and update the list.
  • The majority of things can be done within 2 min, do the 2 min work immediately to clear your list. I do not categorize my things according to importance and urgency anymore because there is not much time left even to think either it is important or urgent or both. So the 2 min principle works the best for me.

books about gentle parenting

2. The whole-brain child: 12 revolutionary strategies to nurture Your child’s developing mind

This book, one of the most popular gentle parenting books, written by a neuropsychiatrist (Daniel J. Siegel) and a parenting expert (Tina Payne Bryson), describes the brain development process of kids. Suppose you are wondering why your three years did not stop crying when you told her to stop. Or have you tried to argue with a two-year-old kid? If yes, this is the right book for you.

books about gentle parenting

As you may know, each part of our brain owns different functions. Simply describe the left hemisphere specializes in language and logic, and the right hemisphere specializes in images and feelings. For kids, the left side takes much longer to develop than the right side, and the right brain develops faster and dominates the left brain till three years old. Kids cannot see the rational side of things, and that is where the “terrible two” and “horrible three” came from.

books about gentle parenting

3. Positive discipline

The Positive Discipline is a series classic gentle discipline parenting books including different ages. It focuses on the development mindset based on mutual respect and learning opportunities and provides teaching ways to guide kids firmly yet gently. The key of of positive discipline is mutual respect instead of power fighting. Understanding the belief behind behavior, do effective communication, focusing on solutions instead of punishment, and celebrating and rewarding the kids’ improvement.

books about gentle parenting

Toddler cannot express themselves by words, they often cry for attention , sleep , or push the limits. The parents’ attitude are key to healthy and effective discipline. It is the beginning to provide our toddler honest, direct, and compassionate feedback.

The book listed several methods like, manage expectations by a predictable, daily routine. Especially punishments cannot help our toddler if he misbehaves. If a child has tantrum in a public situation , most likely he tired and needs to leave. Carrying them back home gently but firmly, even if he kicks and screams, is the respectful way to handle the situation. When a child has a temper tantrum at home, he should be taken to his room to flail and cry in our presence until he regains control. These are not punishments, but rather compassionate responses.

4. How to talk, so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk

How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Can Talk  is a parenting/communication book by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. This book appeals to me in part because it contains a high proportion of exercises, prompts, and anecdotes in comparison to advice.

That this book is not about teaching you how to manipulate the behavior of others; rather, it is about fostering cooperation and respect in both directions. That necessitates being open and flexible, truly hearing and understanding the other person, and taking that into account when interacting with them.

Give them your undivided attention and don’t pretend to listen; put away other distractions and concentrate. Even simple confirmation that you’re listening encourages people to open up. It is sufficient to nod or say “all right.”

It is helpful to describe what they did and what you like about it. This appreciation allows them to praise , appreciate, and recognize their own strengths and virtues. This type of praise requires more effort than one-word evaluations. It entails paying close attention to the outcome, noticing your feelings about it, and expressing them aloud.

books about gentle parenting

5. The power of showing up

Our relationships with parents impact us in adulthood.

Kids get security from watch and experience comfortable environment. Developing a strong and secure connection with children begins with ensuring their physical and mental safety. Hostility, whether physical, verbal, or unexpectedly revealed through facial expressions and body language, can make children fearful and insecure. However, we must keep a close eye on our emotions and watch them for signs of hostility. Except for deep breathing to relax during tension, proper communication, and apologizing to reclaim the bond if we unleash our frustration.

Communication is the most important aspect of ensuring children’s safety. When you speak openly to your children and assist them in understanding issues that arise for them – whether they are being dominated at school or abused by anyone at home – they know they can come to you at any time and get help.

Serious observation and understanding of children, such as doing exercise together, bedtime routine , eating healthy snacks together, makes it easier to respond to their demands and assists them in understanding themselves.

books about gentle parenting

6. Grit: the power of passion and perseverance

Enthusiasm is widespread. Endurance is uncommon. The key to exceptional achievement is grit: a distinct combination of passion and perseverance. Grit is defined as having a strong desire and perseverance for long-term goals. Gritty people can maintain their determination and motivation for extended periods of time despite failure and adversity.

books about gentle parenting

7. Toxic parents

Every parent falls short at times. Toxic Parents described several types, each with a brief description. They are categorized as Inadequate Parents, Controllers, Alcoholics, Verbal Abusers, Physical Abusers, and Sexual Abusers. Without a doubt, the offending parent can cause physical and emotional harm to children. However, the non-offending parent’s passivity can cause as much harm as the offending parent’s failure to recognize or intervene in the situation.

How do you reclaim your life if you were raised in a toxic environment? You can choose to forgive or not, and then deal with the emotional consequences of being raised by various types of toxic parents.

books about gentle parenting

8. Sibling without rivalry

This is my most favorite gentle parenting books. It contains numerous examples that can be easily applied to any family. This book is written from the perspective of a weekly parenting workshop facilitator. Each chapter reads like a transcript of a single session from the previous week. You’ll learn about various parenting challenges such as child hatred, jealousy, labeling, and comparing. Each chapter is chock-full of anecdotes and great examples with tips and guidelines.

Sibling relationship changing with time

The sibling relationship can have a powerful impact on our early lives, causing intense feelings, both positive and negative; these feelings can persist into our adult relationships with our brothers and sisters; and, finally, these feelings can be passed down to the next generation. As parents, we must shift our focus away from turning siblings into friends and toward preparing them for all of their caring relationships. They shouldn’t spend their entire lives debating who was right and who was wrong. They should be able to get past that way of thinking and learn how to truly listen to each other, respect their differences, and find ways to work through those differences. Even if their personalities were such that they could never be friends, they would have the ability to make and be friends.

books about gentle parenting

Tips for fostering good feelings between brothers and sisters

Make sure each child has time alone with you at least once a week. This one-on-one interaction gives children the emotional nourishment they require to be more caring or, at the very least, tolerant of their siblings.

When spending time with one child, avoid discussing the other.

Don’t withhold affection or attention from your “favorite child” in order to compensate for a less favored child. Each child requires a parent’s complete and realistic acceptance of who they are.

Don’t bind the children to their place in the family constellation (oldest, youngest , middle). Allow each child to experience some of the other’s privileges and responsibilities. The demand by parents that they always maintain their family position contributes to deep resentment among siblings.

Don’t let togetherness enslave you. If there is annoyance between the children, don’t force them together because it may cause them to grow apart. With various adult-child combinations, everyone will have more breathing room.

Let each child know what his siblings like or admire about him. Knowing about a sibling’s positive feelings can cause a significant shift in a relationship.

Final Thoughts from Pragmatic Lifestyle

Here are all the parenting books inspired and taught me about positive and gentle parenting way, hope you can also enjoy it!

Hi, there. I am Lin. Together with my husband and two kids, we live in the beautiful Netherlands in Europe.  I am dedicated to self-development, creating quality time for the whole family, and fully supporting kids with their potentials  and possibilities with all I have learned from engineering, MBA, and 10+ years of working experience in the energy sector.

books about gentle parenting

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What is gentle parenting?

G entle parenting is a modern method of connecting with kids that often looks wildly different than the way today's parents were raised.

This approach suggests that we shouldn’t threaten or reward our children. Instead, we should help guide them through the decision-making process so they will arrive at a healthy response on their own.

For example, if a child growing up in past decades was slow to get out the door in the morning, a parent might shout, "Hurry up! You're going to be late for school!"

The gentle parenting philosophy asks parents to dig a little deeper to understand why a child might be dawdling in the morning. Are they deep in pretend play? Are they reluctant to leave the comfort of home? Are they having trouble with a classmate?

In understanding that underlying desire of the child, the parent can better enlist the child's cooperation by saying something like, "I know you're having so much fun playing with your stuffies. Let's leave them right by the door so you can play with them the second you get home."

Also called "respectful parenting," "conscious parenting," "mindful parenting" or "intentional parenting," gentle parenting is a "nurturing style of raising children that allows parents to partner with their little ones to promote growth and development," says Amanda Vierheller, an early learning specialist and co-founder of Playgarden . "This parenting style encourages open communication and reflection to lead children in making positive choices independently."

How gentle parenting works

You have probably already seen examples of gentle parenting in social media through Dr. Becky Kennedy , who often provides how-to scripts to help parents understand what kids are feeling. Or maybe you've listened to Janet Lansbury's " Unruffled " podcast that uses specific situations to demonstrate her respectful approach to raising children.

And that understanding and respect is key here.

Rather than seeing the parent as the authoritarian ruler and the child as the unquestioning subject, gentle parenting evens the playing field a bit. Yes, parents are still enforcing boundaries and making important decisions, but they also treat children as fully-realized human beings with thoughts and preferences. Instead of ruling with an iron fist, parents use empathy and kindness.

Once parents provide structure and support, kids gain confidence in their own abilities, helping them approach the world more independently. They're not waiting for parents to tell them what to do because they know their parents trust them to make decisions.

According to Vierheller, gentle parenting can use a handful of different techniques, like using specific, meaningful praise, giving explanations rather than orders and creating open dialogue for communication.

"Natural consequences, rather than punishment, are used to guide little ones while encouraging social-emotional learning. Gentle parenting respects the feelings and thoughts of children, empowering them to become confident," she says.

Rather than banishing an emotional child to a silent corner of the house in a time out, Vierheller says you should instead "support little ones by providing hands-on tools to help them process and manage feelings, such as books, fidgets, stress balls and plush toys.”

You want your kids to know that you are always there for them to discuss any feeling they may have, even if it seems big and scary.

How to practice gentle parenting

“Many of us respond to this [gentle parenting] idea because we feel that we were parented without sensitivity, and we’re seeking to establish connections that we feel we lacked in our early experiences,” says Mariel Benjamin, program director at the Mount Sinai Parenting Center and Vice President at Cooper , an online parent support system.

Even so, today's parents, especially those who grew up in a disciplinarian household, may have difficulty making the switch to this parenting style that doesn't rely on time outs or reward charts, which are very clear and actionable. It may take more time and emotional effort to provide the type of guidance and affirmation required by gentle parenting.

If you are starting on the gentle parenting path, the Cleveland Clinic offers this advice:

  • Plan ahead for negative behavior (if your child gets hangry at school pickup time, come with a snack!)
  • Be consistent with setting limits (keep daily routines the same)
  • Set realistic expectations (of your family and yourself)
  • Work together as a team (to benefit your relationship in the long run)

Benjamin notes that gentle parenting doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing approach. You can find your own "balance between limits and sensitivity."

Gentle parenting at every age and stage

When you think about gentle parenting, you need to take the developmental age of the child into account. You can even begin incorporating gentle parenting into your routine with infants. As your child grows older, they will better understand the nuances of their emotions and your response.

  • For babies, gentle parenting is fairly instinctual. "Understanding their cries as communication, attending to their needs, using your voice and touch and smell to soothe them, making sure they feel safe and loved — all the basics of newborn care fall into that responsive parenting philosophy,” says Benjamin.
  • With a toddler who hits her sister, you might say something like, "I see that you're crying and you seem frustrated and disappointed. My job is to keep everyone safe. So even when you're frustrated, keep your hands to yourself. I'll set a timer, and your sister will give you the doll when the timer dings."
  • For preschool children, you might need to hold your boundary while redirecting the activity. Benjamin gives this example: "I know you’re having fun and you want to stay at the party, but we still need to go. Leaving is hard, but we can do hard things. Do you want to walk like a dinosaur to your stroller, or should I carry you?"
  • For older children, Benjamin explains you may say something like, “I understand how angry you feel that I won’t let you do that. It’s okay to be angry at me, but I’m not changing my mind. When you’re ready, I’m here to talk.” 

You can identify, validate and empathize with your child without giving into their demands or saying the dreaded, "Because I said so!"

Benjamin says, "Our goal is to show our children that we — the adults — can tolerate their distress and survive." 

This article was originally published on

What is gentle parenting?

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After my baby was born, I became a target for grifters. I thought I’d be better prepared

Ariel Bogle

The healthcare system’s focus is largely on the birth itself. Then if you’re lucky and your baby is healthy, you’re set adrift in social media feeds full of parenting influencers

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T hey put a button in my hand after I had my baby. A miraculous little object, it summoned a midwife to the room at any hour. At first I resisted it out of politeness, but the reassurance of these women with their casual competence was irresistible. A question about a rash, a latch, a baby that seemed to hate the ugly plastic bassinet they placed her in? I pressed the button again and again.

That lasted four days. On the fifth day, we were home. Now, instead of the buzzer, my smartphone rarely left my hand. Any parent of a newborn knows the in-between feeling that comes from feeding a baby every few hours around the clock. I scrolled social media feeds – now clogged with newborn content – through the night.

I watched one woman say it was bad for your baby’s spine to lift their legs while changing a nappy. I watched another say it was fine. I watched women outfit nurseries entirely in beige, and others say depriving children of colour was akin to extraordinary evil. I watched someone demonstrate a failsafe swaddling technique, and another claim swaddling would ruin your child’s growth.

Of course, I became singularly obsessed with sleep. On TikTok , I was catapulted directly into a war over sleep training. Letting your baby cry even for a moment would sentence her to a life of insecure attachment. Allowing him to sleep in your room would ruin your relationship without exception. On Instagram, experts of dubious qualification promised failsafe nap schedules for three-week-old babies, who famously know no schedule.

I found myself contemplating what my attitude about sleep methods suggested about my politics, really deep down. Plugged into a slot machine of nap time content, it felt sometimes like no baby had yet slept in human history. In a moment of desperation, I bought a $100 sleep program from an influencer. In return I got a few videos and a PDF document. In other words, I became a mark.

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Under the guidance of these self-described sleep trainers, I tried patting. I tried shushing, loud and soft. I trialled a special kind of burping that involved lying my baby down and picking her up several times. I fed her at 10pm, half-asleep, which left us both awake and annoyed. I attempted putting her down “drowsy but awake”. I tried whatever the next video, the next page suggested.

I am hardly the first person to become entranced by an online projection of parenthood, or to waste money on it. But if I’m honest, I thought I’d be better prepared. For most of my career as a journalist I have reported on the ways we talk to one another on the internet, how information is shared and how bad ideas travel and morph.

During the early days of the pandemic, I tracked down the source of Facebook rumours about virus-traces on fruit and petrol pumps. I investigated the long tail of misleading media headlines about Covid-19, and the money-making schemes of anti-vaccine influencers. I talked to families whose relationships were being tested by arguments about whether the virus even existed.

I advised empathy and caution. Checking sources. Taking note when something in the feed provoked a strong reaction – a kind of comprehension gut check. The World Health Organization had said there was an “infodemic”, a term that at the time felt hopelessly naff. I preached learning to be comfortable with uncertainty, but now at home I discovered how it felt to look for answers in a wave of content that never quite crests.

My slipping point came when my bone-tiredness and need for immediate information was met by overwhelming noise and influencer marketing. I looked at government-sponsored websites with good-if-cookie-cutter advice, and considered booking a residential support service. But these resources couldn’t quite contend with the TikTok algorithm or an ecosystem of Instagram influencers who know how to sell stories straight into gaps where reliable voices are hard to find.

It can feel foolish to write about having a child – an experience so universal, yet entirely personal. Money changes the experience, as does race, location and traditions of family support. But in countries like Australia, it becomes clear that the healthcare system’s focus is largely on the birth itself. After the baby arrives, if you are lucky and they are healthy, you say goodbye to the midwife not long after. And at those early baby health checks, sympathetic nurses tell bleary eyed parents there is no manual.

No matter how much empathy I tried to work with as a journalist, there had been a distance between me and the people who featured in my stories. I had never really known what it was to try to keep someone precious to me healthy and alive in a space empty of knowledge and clarity. I had never experienced how much fear and exhaustion can lower your guardrails and make you vulnerable to the guru and their promise of relief.

I also found how birth and motherhood lends itself to the conspiratorial. In quiet conversations with friends who have given birth, you’re told to trust your doctors, but not too much, and that feels right given the horrific history of women’s health. Your body knows what to do, beautiful women tell you from tastefully photographed yoga studios. But as the due date sails by, midwives and doctors start to quietly suggest no, maybe it doesn’t.

You learn each choice about birth will be interpreted as a statement of values no matter the impetus: an elective C-section, precious and rich. A home birth? Some react to the idea as if you’re the Unabomber.

Every parent discovers that a baby is an exercise in potential outcomes. “Every day with a child, I have discovered, is a kind of time travel. I cast my mind ahead with each decision I make, wondering what I might be giving or taking from my child in the future,” Eula Biss wrote in her book on childhood vaccines, On Immunity. I wish I could say I had a moment of instant clarity and put down my phone, but it was more like a gentle incline towards being comfortable with the unknown Biss described.

As I emerged from the sleeplessness of the newborn stage, stability came inching back. She was still here and smiled and rolled and held out her arms. My screen time went down and my credit card was no longer quite as in thrall to the call of the feed.

I found I wasn’t the only one trying to wean herself off the internet. In an old book club chat, a friend told the group she had chosen a book on baby rearing by a pragmatic-sounding midwife and banned herself from Google. We warned each other off TikTok, full stop (few succeeded). With people I had met at least once, I was better able to take in information, examine it, and take it on or choose to discard it.

But sometimes, in the deepest part of the night, I wish I had that buzzer back.

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Guest Essay

The 17th-Century Heretic We Could Really Use Now

A painting of the philosopher Baruch Spinoza that shows him with long black hair and a thin mustache, wearing a black robe with a white collar and cuffs, reading a book.

By Ian Buruma

Mr. Buruma is the author of “ Spinoza: Freedom’s Messiah. ”

The Enlightenment philosopher Baruch Spinoza almost died for his ideals one day in 1672.

Spinoza, a Sephardic Jew born in Amsterdam in 1632, was a passionate and outspoken defender of freedom, tolerance and moderation. And so when Johan de Witt, the great liberal statesman of the Dutch Republic, whose political motto was “true freedom,” was lynched and mutilated by a mob whipped into a frenzy by reactionary rabble-rousers tacitly backed by orthodox Calvinist clerics, Spinoza wanted to rush onto the scene and place a sign that read (in Latin): “The lowest of barbarians.” If his landlord hadn’t held him back, the gentle philosopher would surely have been lynched himself.

Spinoza suffered much for his lifelong dedication to the freedom of thought and expression. His view that God did not create the world, and his disbelief in miracles and the immortality of the soul so enraged the rabbis of his Sephardic synagogue in Amsterdam that he was banished from the Jewish community for life at the age of 23. Only one of his books, about the French philosopher Descartes, could be published under his own name during his lifetime. His other works, arguing against religious superstition and clerical authority, and for intellectual and political liberty, were considered so inflammatory that his authorship had to be disguised.

There were other great thinkers in the 17th century, such as Thomas Hobbes and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who prepared the ground for the Enlightenment of the 18th century. But few still appeal as much to our imagination as Spinoza does. Living now as we do in a time of book-banning, intellectual intolerance, religious bigotry and populist demagoguery, his radical advocacy of freedom still seems fresh and urgent.

This is perhaps why new books about him are coming out all the time, including Jonathan Israel’s 2023 magnum opus “ Spinoza, Life and Legacy ” Steven Nadler’s “ Think Least of Death: Spinoza and How to Live and Die ,” and even a novel, “ The Spinoza Problem ,” by the psychiatrist Irvin Yalom. And all that for a philosopher who was denounced by Christians and Jews as the devil’s disciple long after his own time. Spinoza’s idea that God was not a thinking or creative being but nature itself was considered so scandalous that George Eliot, the British novelist who translated Spinoza’s “Ethics” in the 1850s, still insisted that her name not be mentioned in connection with the thinker she unreservedly admired.

Spinoza was convinced that all people, regardless of their religious or cultural background, were imbued with the capacity to reason and that we should seek the truth about ourselves and the world we live in. He insisted that our rational faculties could provide us with not only more precise knowledge but also with a path toward a happier life and better politics. In an essay called “On the Correction of the Understanding,” he wrote, “True philosophy is the discovery of the ‘true good,’ and without knowledge of the true good human happiness is impossible.” That true good, in Spinoza’s view, can only be found through reason and not through religion, tribal feelings or authoritarianism.

Unlike Thomas Hobbes, who believed that only an absolute monarch could keep man’s violent impulses in check, Spinoza was an early proponent of a democratic ideal and representative government. But a free republic could only survive under a government of reasonable men who knew how to cope with conflicting interests rationally. As Spinoza put it, perhaps a little too optimistically, in his “Theological-Political Treatise”: “To look out for their own interests and retain their sovereignty, it is incumbent on them most of all to consult the common good and to direct everything according to the dictate of reason.”

If Spinoza was the devil’s disciple, he was a very gentle one. Nothing in his life gave off even a whiff of scandalous behavior. The German poet Heinrich Heine compared Spinoza to Jesus Christ, as a Jew who suffered for his teaching. A quiet, introspective bachelor who wore a signet ring with the Latin word for “caution,” he hated conflict and had the courtly manners of his Iberian ancestry. But his virtuous life only made religious believers even more furious: How could a Godless man be morally irreproachable? Here, then, was a clash which we can still recognize, between those who believe that moral behavior can only come from religious belief and those who think it can emanate from reason.

The greatest enemies of his kind of truth-seeking in Spinoza’s time were the orthodox Calvinists who still dominated academic and religious life — and to some extent politics — in the Dutch Republic. Catholics in France, strict Anglicans in England and the rabbis who expelled him were no different. Their idea of truth was revealed in the Holy Bible by God’s words. They saw Spinoza’s philosophy as a direct challenge to their authority. And so his blasphemous insistence on rational thinking and the freedom to challenge religious dogma had to be crushed.

Religious dogma is often still used today to crack down on the free thought. This is the case in Muslim theocracies, such as Iran. But it is true also of evangelical Christians in the United States, who insist on the removal of books in public libraries and schools that supposedly offend their moral beliefs grounded in religion.

Dogmatic oppression of intellectual freedom need not always be religious, however. Chinese citizens cannot express themselves freely, as long as the government insists that all views conform to party ideology. As with religious ideologues, they like to claim that dissident ideas “offend the feelings of the people.”

In the United States and increasingly in many parts of Europe, other kinds of ideological thinking, some of them with commendable social goals, such as social or racial justice, put pressure on intellectual freedom as well. Spinoza’s insistence on the primacy of our capacity to reason would not sit well with the notion that our thoughts are driven by collective identities and historical traumas. He was against tribalism of any kind. And he would not have considered offended communal feelings as a rational argument.

Spinoza is sometimes dismissed as a rationalist who had no understanding of human emotions, but he knew perfectly well that we are feeling human beings and that emotions can get the better of us. One of his greatest fears, no less germane today than in his time, was that mobs, whipped up by malevolent leaders, would squash free thinking with violence.

The way to deal with religious beliefs and human emotions, in Spinoza’s opinion, was not to try to ban them or pretend they didn’t exist. Let people believe what they want, as long as philosophers could enjoy the freedom to think. In his ideal republic, there would be a kind of civic religion, beyond the authority of clerics, that would improve and safeguard moral behavior. In his own words: “The worship of God and obedience to him consists only in justice and loving kindness or in love toward one’s neighbor.”

In the universities, too, Spinoza did not think that the religious approach to truth could be abolished. The answer was to separate religious knowledge from science. There was room for both, without one encroaching on the turf of the other.

In our own time, we see demagogues inciting the masses with irrational and hateful fantasies. We see universities torn by ideological struggles that make free inquiry increasingly difficult. Once again there is a conflict between the scientific and the ideological approaches to truth. For example, the notion in some progressive circles that the teaching of mathematics is a form of toxic white supremacy and must be pressed into the service of correcting racial injustices, is, as some people might put it, problematic.

This certainly would have puzzled Spinoza, but he might have helped us find a way out. We could follow his example of distinguishing between different ways to find the truth. It is true that racial and other social injustices persist and should be corrected, but the logic of mathematics is universal and must not be compromised to further the interests of particular minorities. Scientific inquiry should be culturally and racially neutral.

The freedom to act and think rationally, not dogmatically, is by far Spinoza’s greatest legacy. It is the only way to combat the threat of irrational ideas, stirred up hatreds and the confusion of science and faith. And it may be the only way to save our Republic.

Ian Buruma is the author of several books, including, “ The Collaborators ” and, most recently, “ Spinoza: Freedom’s Messiah .”

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .

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An earlier version of this article misstated the title of a book by Baruch Spinoza. It is “Theological-Political Treatise,” not “Theoretical-Political Treatise.”

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Arbutin Is a Gentle Way to Diminish Dark Spots

Published on 2/21/2024 at 7:10 PM


It seems like each week, a new skin-care ingredient takes center stage. We've all likely praised the brightening properties of vitamin C and used hyaluronic acid to hydrate our hair and skin. But there's always something new to get your hands on. If you're looking for one that evens skin tone by fading dark spots and acne scars, hop on the arbutin train.

Arbutin is an ingredient you should look for in skin-care products when attempting to effectively diminish your hyperpigmentation without damaging your skin barrier. If you scan the back of your skin-brightening products, there's a good chance arbutin is listed on the label. This is simply due to its impressive ability to lighten dark spots and prevent new ones from forming. Sure, salicylic acid , niacinamide , and even retinol can help get rid of any unwanted scarring, but they won't work as efficiently and gently as arbutin.

It can be hard to keep track of the latest and greatest ingredients, so we spoke with two board-certified dermatologists to get the scoop on what arbutin is, how to use it, and if there are any side effects you should be aware of. Ahead, you'll find everything to know about the powerhouse ingredient.

What Is Arbutin?

"Arbutin is a compound that is extracted from the bearberry plant and is a glycosylated form of hydroquinone," board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick , MD, FAAD, tells POPSUGAR. According to Medline Plus , the ingredient works to inhibit tyrosinase (the cells that produce melanin) activity, resulting in the reduction of melanin formation, which helps to reduce dark spots and discoloration. Melanin is what gives your skin, hair, and eyes pigmentation — the more melanin you produce, the darker these parts of your body will be, according to Cleveland Clinic .

Arbutin can be found in various skin-care products that help lighten and prevent hyperpigmentation while brightening the skin overall.

Arbutin's Benefits For the Skin

The ingredient "offers preventive measures against hyperpigmentation and can brighten and lighten existing hyperpigmentation," board-certified cosmetic dermatologist Deanne Mraz , MD, says. Arbutin can also lighten the appearance of acne and surgical scars. When using it, you'll notice the reduction of discoloration — or melanin formation — while helping your skin appear brighter.

How to Use Arbutin

If your skin-care routine already contains brightening products such as masks, serums, toners, face washes, and other topicals, there's a good chance that arbutin is listed as an ingredient. Implementing these products into your regimen isn't difficult, but it takes careful planning.

"I recommend using it in serum form after cleansing and before applying heavier skin care, makeup, or SPF so it can be absorbed," Dr. Mraz says. You can use it up to two times daily, and it would be easy to apply in the morning and evening.

Arbutin Side Effects

When it comes to side effects, the chances of having a reaction to arbutin are very low. It is a very gentle ingredient and "pretty tolerable and safe for all skin types ," Dr. Garshick says. However, there's always a chance of an allergic reaction when introducing a new ingredient to the skin. It's best to do a spot test with any new additions in your routine to ensure you won't experience any irritation or negative side effects before applying it to your entire face.

"If you have a chronic skin condition like psoriasis or rosacea , I always recommend discussing changes in your skin-care routine with your dermatologist to better manage the outcome and keep track of triggers and solutions," Dr. Mraz says.

Ingredients That Shouldn't Be Mixed With Arbutin

"Arbutin plays nicely with other popular, skin-savvy actives such as vitamin C and AHAs," Dr. Mraz says. "The only thing you can 'do wrong' is apply it incorrectly," she adds, explaining that "it should be applied to clean, dry skin so it can be absorbed." She advises against layering it on top of heavy skin care or makeup because it won't work as effectively and could potentially clog your pores.

Dr. Garshick says that pairing it with other ingredients that "address discoloration such as vitamin C and exfoliating acids like glycolic acid and kojic acid" can further assist in diminishing your hyperpigmentation. However, it's still a good idea to consult with your dermatologist before cocktailing other ingredients.

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