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Books

Here is a list of books recommended by the experts at The Parent Practice.  We have also reviewed and rated many of the books we recommend for our parents

      Excellent, Every parent should read,
      Good Read - useful for specific topics
      More theory than practical
      Some useful parts 
      Don't bother  - not consistent with our recommended approach to parenting

 

Book of the month

Real Parenting for Real Kids by Melissa Hood

Written by Melissa Hood of The Parent Practice. An essential book for every parent. Supported by lots stories from parents with whom The Parent Practice has worked.
Continue reading...

Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph

This book can really help parents understand how their sons see the world and why they behave the way they do.
It looks at the development of the brain, the effects of testosterone and gives parents advice on how they can help boys acquire the right values, including a caring attitude towards the opposite sex. The author examines what changes in the education system would help boys, and how the role of both mothers and fathers change as their son grows up.
The style of the book is easy to read, and has many practical stories and ideas. Overall, it encourages us to celebrate our sons, and help them turn into the men we need for the future.

Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson

A weighty, thorough and immensely rewarding examination of the emotional life of boys and men, thankfully written by two men. The book considers what it takes to be emotionally whole men. It also uncovers why and how our boys are systematically steered away from their emotional lives towards resilence, solitude and distrust. The high cost of harsh discipline as well as sources of and responses to boys' anger is addressed. While the book is extremely well researched, the ideas are made accessible through individual stories. Most readers find these enlightening. If you (or your spouse!) finds them irritating, then just read the last chapter: 'What boys need' should be given out with cigars whenever a baby boy is born.

Girls will be Girls by JoAnn Deak

This book covers all aspects of girls' development, both cognitive and physical, from 6 to 16 years old. It has detailed information and advice for particular ages and stages, and looks at the importance of developing, clarifying and communicating values to our daughters, and how parents can help deal with the particular challenges faced by girls, from dating to self-esteem, and body image to peer pressure and media messages. It examines the special and distinctive relationship between parents and daughters, as well as covering the various social development stages and how friendship styles change over the years. It offers advice about developing a healthy self-esteem and how girls can avoid falling in to the trap of the 'tyranny of nice' and wanting to please too much.

Raising and Praising Girls by Elizabeth Hartley-Brewer

This book focuses on praise, which the author says needs to be a central part of raising children, not an occasional luxury. She looks at the vital role praise plays in the development of self-belief, and how self-belief matures during the different stages of girls' development. She shows how to avoid using praise inappropriately, and how to avoid developing a dependency on others or falling prey to the perils of perfectionism. The book also covers what areas and qualities need to be noticed and encouraged with praise and gives details of the particular language that is effective. It shows how to use praise to encourage learning, motivate good behaviour and foster a belief in possibilities and opportunities.

Raising Girls by Stephen Biddulph

This book is a real call to action for all parent of girls today and tries to help parents really understand today's social climate in order to help daughters to grow up to be wise, warm and strong young women.

The message is that if we as parents are going to ensure that our daughters don't succumb to mental health issues, caused by an obsessive interest in how they look exacerbated through the growth in social media, we need to be very aware of the current climate fuelled by exploitative corporations intent on making money at any cost. He speaks of a climate where girls find themselves lonely and in danger –akin to them standing in a wasteland surrounded by hyenas and they are all alone; vulnerable soft targets. He speaks of the fact that girls are not born hating their bodies but the current climate is poisoning girls' spirits. He points out that young girls of previous generations woke up at the weekend and asked 'what will I do today' and today's girls ask 'what will I wear today?' He bemoans premature sexual behaviour as harmful to girls.

Biddulph is a feminist and very anti corporate and is infuriated by Lego Friends, the girls' version of the toy launched last year claiming "Five curvy little friends who bake, home-make, decorate, hairstyle and shop! Anything gender limiting in that little selection?" He calls on parents to resist the consumer pull of advertisers' gender stereotyping and “ Avoid anything aimed just at girls. The world does that quite enough already."

Biddulph claims that girls aged 10 years are now like 14 year olds used to be and that 14 year olds are now akin to how 18 year olds were. They are growing up too quickly.

I like the way Biddulph explores the 5 stages of girlhood characterised by a need for security; exploration; getting along with others; finding her soul and finally preparing for adulthood. I found this especially useful as my own daughter was finding her soul and thinking about a different educational environment to help her thrive. The idea of surrounding her with other strong wise women or 'Aunties' was inspired and my own daughter's homeopath, the wonderful Alison Gaston, kindly took on the role of being one of her strong wise women she could turn to. The outcome was transformational for us as our daughter chose a different school to suit her needs and is now thriving.

The section on friendships and bodies and weight have some useful tips but I do utter a word of caution. Biddulph's view on nursery childcare for under 3's is controversial and will upset many parents. His forthright views on fathers' roles are uncompromising. He states: 'If you routinely work a 55- or 60-hour week, including commute times, you just won't cut it as a dad. Your sons will have problems in life, your daughters will have self-esteem issues, and it will be down to you."

The overall message is that we as parents need to help our girls navigate the gender equality journey and be present in their lives, not absent.

"Your daughter needs to know she is part of a bigger story; a fight that has been fought on her behalf, long before she was born, and that she needs to keep fighting."

A Child's World, Dr Sarah Brewer

This easy-to-read book looks into the developing mind of the child from two to 12 years old, drawing on both scientific research and personal observations. This information can really help parents understand how their children are thinking and therefore how they are behaving!
It shows us how children gradually learn the crucial skills they need to operate in the adult world- how they learn to think for themselves, develop the ability to empathise with others and how they learn to understand gender differences and distinguish between fact and fiction, as well as how they develop a moral code and work out how and when to lie successfully!

A series of books covering ages from One to 14. Titles being: 'Your One Year old', 'Your Two Year old'(and on up in single years).

Ever wonder why your 4 year old is obsessed with super heroes? Why your 10 year old all of a sudden stops doing what you ask? These ten individual, very short books give a snap-shot of some of the things your child may be doing and why. They don't tell us what our child 'should' be doing (and therefore make us nervous!), rather, they give invaluable insight and explanation about why our children do some of the strange things they do. Once you have an understanding of why, for example, they can't seem to make up their mind about which trousers to wear or they contradict everything you say, you can use The Parent Practice skills to help your child address challenges in a much more effective and empathetic way. Written thirty years ago they are quite old fashioned, but they are a rare source on this critically important topic.

Yardsticks; Children in the classroom ages 4 -14 by Chip Wood

The most accessible book on child development according to one of our students, a practising Child Psychologist. Each chapter covers the typical developmental milestones and common patterns in children's physical, social-emotional, language and cognitive growth. While the information on how this affects their schooling is US focussed, the broad brush pattern of development is universal. If you've ever despaired as to why your 4 year old is placid in his chair while your 5 rising 6 year old wiggles all the time, this book is for you. You need only read (and re-read!) the 5 or 6 pages that describe each age (and the year above and below your child as age is not dispositive, developmental stage is). Understanding what and why your child is doing something is at the core of being empathetic and effective

What about the Children? by Julie Lynn Evans

Julie Lynn Evans is a psychotherapist and this book calls on her experiences with families going through divorce. Some of the case studies are extremely sobering as they reveal the extreme anguish that children can sometimes go through in dealing with the upheaval of parental estrangement or anger and the loss of the central stable core of the family. This book doesn't pull any punches starting as it does with some hard hitting statistics about the impact of divorce on children. The book examines how children react to separation at different ages and some different responses. It looks at behaviours and even physical symptoms that may come about as a response to the emotional upheaval of family break down. It then examines how parents and other adults can help children through this traumatic time. It discusses how to talk to children about divorce and how to help them deal with the upset. It strongly advocates encouraging children to express their feelings and urges the keeping of boundaries.
'What about the children' provides an extremely helpful analysis of the impact of separation on children of different ages. It gives concerned adults an idea of what to look out for and how to help. The emphasis on getting support from others is very strong. There is a very positive message that divorcing parents who recognise when they need support and ask for it are brave and sensible and doing the right thing by their children.
It is not divorce and separation which hurt children so much as the way things are conducted. If everyone understands the problems that can be caused by a poor divorce, how much children can hurt, how important it is for them to feel safe and to be able to speak then everyone can lend a hand to support the adults and the children to have better lives.

7 habits of highly effective families by Stephen Covey

This book shows how to apply the acclaimed 7 habits including proactivity, prioritising, and understanding - to the complex and confusing relationships of the family.

It stresses the value of deep and strong relationships within the family while also acknowledging the uniqueness of each family, and that change is hard to make. It shows how the energy and creativity for change comes from within.

It encourages parents to develop a vision of how they want their family to be, and then helps plan how that vision can be achieved. It discusses ideas, such as the Emotional Bank Account, and gives practical tips about how we can decide on priorities, involve the children, and spend quality time with and support each family member, as well as changing the way we talk and act within the family.

Bounce: The myth of talent and the power of practice by Matthew Syed

While this book is ostensibly about the making of sports champions (with references to chess and music), it really explains what it takes to become great in anything. Since that is what most parents want for their children to help them be the best they can be - this book has a lot to say about effective parenting.

Syed persuasively argues (with reference to a lot of evidence) that anybody CAN be great with hard work and the right attitude. He refutes the idea that some are born great or with special talent but instead looks at the greats in many fields, sports, music and chess in particular, and sees that there is no common ground between them other than application (and occasionally some useful physical characteristics like height for a basketball player). He looks at long distance and sprint runners from Kenya and from the Caribbean and finds less similarities in their genetic make-up than you might expect given those places' reputation for producing great runners. He does find instead a culture of enthusiasm for those sports and plenty of opportunities for practising running. He talks about purposeful practices and stresses that 'failure' is actually the route to achievement, not an excuse for quitting.

When 'talent' is promoted over experience there is no room for failure as this is inconsistent with the idea of intrinsic talent. One particularly interesting part of Syed's argument relates to what happens when there is a culture which doesn't tolerate failure such as in some big businesses. People become risk averse and creativity is stifled. There becomes a culture of blame and back-covering which prevents the growth of new ideas. When mistakes are made it becomes impossible in such a climate to admit to them so big cover-ups occur. Such environments lead to fraud on a major scale.

Interestingly, much of the author's arguments are in tune with research by psychologists, and in particular Professor Carol Dweck's work (see our recommendation of her book, Mindset). Indeed, he writes that Prof Dweck's work underpins much of the argument in the first half of his book.

Syed's thesis is that we should take a radical new approach to the way we interact with students, aspiring sports stars, or indeed, anyone else. That we should praise effort, not talent; that we should emphasize how abilities can be transformed through application; that we should teach others and ourselves to see challenges as learning opportunities rather than threats; that we should interpret failure not as an indictment but as a learning opportunity.

Indeed, The Parent Practice courses are all about doing precisely this.

Calmer Parents, Happy Kids by Dr Laura Markham

Whilst Dr Markham acknowledges how tough parenting can be, the pressures on parents (placed on them both internally and externally) and the slew of conflicting advice, the tone of this book is very much on the need for the parent to look within themselves and the by-product might be the change in their children's behaviour - this is a book focused on the parent first, child/children second.

The premise is that there is no such thing as a badly behaved child, just a bad relationship between child and parent(s). Dr Markham does not pretend that following the advice is easy and acknowledges this is an approach that maybe alien to some readers. It's a completely different take on parenting, moving away from cajoling, disciplining and bribery and into creating an atmosphere of love and respect where better behaviours will follow. The book is aimed at parents of newborns up to nine years although the principle of connection is relevant and workable with older children (and with all relationships!).

Despite being so focused on the internal equilibrium of the parent, the book is also practical; lots of step-by-step guides which show what to do, what to say, how to physically realign yourself, for example and other very helpful (and functional) sections. There are lots of references to Dr Markham's website throughout the book (almost any mention of sibling relationships and difficulties is redirected to the site) and there are some very practical 'scripts' referred to - e.g. 'How to leave the playground' script.

The structure of the book is clear and simple, which makes it look much less daunting to read than some overly-wordy books. It is broken down into Three Big Ideas, which then interweave seamlessly into each others' sections so that you can see how peaceful parenting requires all three to be in place at all times.
This is very much a book that can be 'dipped in and out of' the sections are very practical that although the theory supporting the ideas is interesting and enlightening, it can be 'skim-read' and parents can really get to the solution. There are several little helpful slogans like 'Connection before Correction' and 'Empathy with Limits' which act as great little reminders (put on post-it notes on the fridge, for example!) and this is a fantastic manual for parenting.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brene Brown

Brene is a Research Professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work.

The premise of her book is that we need to be open to being vulnerable (uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure). Being vulnerable is a strength not a weakness and when we shut ourselves off from revealing our true selves we grow distanced from the things that bring purpose and meaning to our lives. As we get older we shut down our feelings of vulnerability so we don't get hurt.
We numb our feelings to we don't feel bad, but it also prevents us from feeling good.

It is shame that prevents us from being vulnerable. Shame is saying 'I am bad', Guilt is saying 'I did something bad'. High levels of shame are associated with increased risk of depression and other mental illnesses. We need to build shame resilience so when we open ourselves up to vulnerability our self worth is not damaged.

When we feel shame it triggers - the fight or flight response - which means we normally react by hiding, running or responding aggressively. We don't react with the rational part of our brain. If we have shame resilience, we still feel shame but we can handle it. We do this by sharing our stories and shame dissipating through empathy. Women and men have different shame categories. For women it is how we look, motherhood, the need to be effortlessly perfect. For men it is failure, that they must never be perceived as weak.

We use a variety of different vulnerability shields including foreboding joy (I shouldn't feel happy because something bad is likely to happen), perfectionism, numbing (through drink, drugs), letting it all hang out, cynicism, criticism, cruelty.

Brene talks about wholehearted parenting. Our sense of worthiness begins with our families and as parents we need to make sure our children feel worthy without it being attached to external prerequisites. Shame is very painful to children, it is linked to a child's fear of being unlovable. Childhood experiences of shame change who we are, how we think about ourselves and our sense of self worth. Children can understand the distinction between shame and guilt. We want to raise children who use more guilt self talk than shame. If we use emotion coaching our children will talk to us about their shame experiences and we can help them build shame resilience.
We have to model shame resilience. We can also share our stories of shame as a kid, this helps to normalize it for our children.

If we use shame as a parenting tool, children have more difficulty believing in their worthiness. Worthiness is about love and belonging. Many children don't feel they belong at home as they are not living up to their parents expectations. Brene believes one of the hardest things for parents is letting their children struggle and experience adversity but hope is a function of struggle. Hope is a way of thinking, a combination of setting goals, having the tenacity and perseverance to pursue them and believing in our own abilities. Hope is learned from parents.

There are many areas I felt this book was relevant to the Parent Practice Work.
- I felt that her idea of worthiness and being open to vulnerability were all ideas that tied in to building self esteem
- With in emotion coaching I thought we could raise the fact that children feel a lot of shame and we need to name that emotion and use emotion coaching to help them deal with this and learn shame resilience
- As parents we should never use shame as a parenting tool
- We should be ensuring that children have an outlook of guilt (I did something bad but I can make amends, figure out how to do it differently in the future), rather than shame (I am a bad person)
- We need to model shame resilience, this should be in the general way we deal with the world. Using the mistakes process and being able to admit our own mistakes would be powerful modeling to our children
- I thought the idea of belonging was very powerful. Many parents may not be ware that all their expectations are leading to children feeling they don't belong.
- A key vulnerability shield for women is perfectionism so it is particularly important for girls that we encourage them to see that 'good is good enough'
- Her 'hope is a function of struggle' is an interesting quote when discussing the importance of independence.

Divas and Dictators by Charles Taylor

This book is wonderfully easy to read and understand, it's funny and insightful and it would be surprising if it ended up gathering dust by the side of your bed!

Charlie Taylor offers a simple and direct approach that helps parents learn how to manage their young child's behaviour for the better. It focuses on the power of Descriptive Praise, using a recommended ratio of 6 praises to 1 criticism in order to improve behaviour. He also looks at the advantages of rules and routines, and planning ahead, and how parents can implement effective rewards and consequences.

He explains how parents' reaction to children's misbehaviour determines the likelihood of its recurrence, with a wonderful analogy of how we 'go reptile' where our brains work 'with all the judgement and rationality of an alligator'. He encourages parents to take responsibility for their part in any misbehaviour so they can keep their responses effective.

Throughout the book there are lots of real examples and stories that explain the author's approach and, in the second half, there is a helpful trouble-shooting guide which covers pertinent issues such as bedtimes, table manners, watching TV, whining, car journeys and siblings amongst other issues.

How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlich

Although first published over 30 years ago, this book is still fresh and easily accessible with real life stories, practical tips, examples of parent-child dialogue, cartoons, questions and answers sections and exercises, including suggested role plays.

The book shows parents how to make relationships with children less stressful and more rewarding, and therefore making them more effective parents resulting in happier, better behaved children, and parents.

The 6 key areas are: feelings, co-operations, punishment, autonomy, praise and playing roles, which tie closely to The Parent Practice Core Skills Course.

Each section can be read alone, which is helpful for dipping back in when you need to, however as each area links into the others reading the whole book can really help change the way you parent.

Myth of the Spoilt Child by Alfie Kohn

his book is not about specific parenting skills. As per the title, it is focused on busting some current myths on parenting styles.

Kohn asserts that there is no research to suggest parents are more permissive and children more narcissistic than ever before. Over 50% of parents when polled believe that they are quite strict but everyone else is not! He also busts the myth that parents are increasingly becoming helicopter parents. He sees this as very anecdotal and that children actually benefit from supportive parents.

Kohn’s biggest issue is that most parenting is based on a ‘doing to’ style – using rewards, competition and pain (he uses a fabulous acronym ‘Better Get Used To It’) to spur our children on. Kohn goes into detail as to why these are not effective parenting tools. He believes that rewards actually damage intrinsic motivation and that competition is counterproductive – undermining confidence, relationships, empathy and excellence. Pain in childhood does not prepare you for pain in later life. It is success and joy and positive emotional experiences that give kids the psychological stability to weather the bad stuff.

Kohn talks about the importance of self-esteem and how to raise children who have a stable self-esteem which is not conditional on others’ approval, outdoing others, physical appearance or academic achievement. He stresses that children need to be accepted and loved unconditionally by their parents to be able to achieve this. He looks in detail at Self-discipline – currently considered a golden trait. In his view what is important here is having healthy self-discipline – so a child has the capacity to decide when and whether to persevere or to delay pleasure or follow the rules.

Kohn advocates a ‘working with’ style of parenting where we actively welcome their questioning and being assertive with us, where we move beyond our need to win arguments and impose our will. He encourages us to raise ‘reflective rebels’. This is done through a supportive, warm and empathetic style of parenting. Not only should we teach by modeling but also by taking the time to explain to our children what we’re thinking, feeling and the factors behind our decision making, rather than presenting things as a fait accompli.

His vision is to raise children who are pro-social (caring about the welfare of others as well as themselves), self confident and assertive and with the ability to value scepticism and non-conformity.

This is a weighty book dense with research and there are many good pointers to take from it but it is not a fast and easy read. Whilst it argues convincingly for a ‘working with’ style of parenting and the raising of reflective rebels, it won’t give you a full skill set to handle the day to day minutiae of parenting. It will give you an excellent philosophical starting point.

No Drama Discipline by Dan Siegel and Tina Bryson

No Drama Discipline is easy to read, with great cartoons showing a positive approach to discipline, and real-life examples. Definitely for everyone – no need to have done our course, but very in-line with everything we teach at The Parent Practice. The main skill is Emotion Coaching – but he shows how this is the first step we have to take in order to teach, and encourage our child to problem-solve their way to better behaviour. 5 stars for sure!

QUIET: The Power of the introvert in a World that Won't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

See Susan Cain giving a TED presentation. Click here

Apparently one-third to one-half of Americans feel they are introverts. The numbers in the UK are likely to be similar. So, even if you aren't an introvert, the chance is pretty high that you know one! We live in a world that is designed for extroverts. Workplaces value team-spirit, collaboration and personality - all which are great. The downside is that by valuing these things, perhaps we're missing out by not allowing those who need to think quietly, tinker, or have some space to be alone to figure things out. Ours is a world that rewards extroverts, those who are great public speakers and have outgoing personalities. For those who prefer their own space, and their own small group of friends, life can feel like a constant struggle for understanding and recognition.

Quiet is a thoroughly researched book that provides insight into what introversion is and references the path that we've taken from a world that valued sensitivity, calm and quiet strength to today's world that values social-ability, gregariousness and people who 'put themselves out there'. Apparently the extrovert-introvert topic is one of the most researched in current personality psychology, likely because it really is so interesting! Cain writes about the impact of introversion and extraversion in areas such as education, parenting and risk-taking, such as banking and the importance of allowing introverts a bigger platform for contributing in their own way.

Each chapter provides really interesting points. Here are a few:

Introverts & Risk-Taking - Cain talks about how extroverts are more likely to react quickly to certain situations and therefore are more likely to take more risks. Introverts, on the other hand, reflect more before acting. So, when it comes to parenting, we need to make sure that we teach our extroverts to slow down their decision making process, while being empathetic when we see our introverts taking time to mull things over.

Masking Introversion - Cain writes about how many introverts have learned over the course of their lives to mask their introversion. She includes good examples of people who have had successful careers, many in the public eye, who are introverts and have figured out a way to both mask their introversion, while also creating a life outside of the public eye where they can re-charge.

Introverts and Rewards' Studies show that extroverts are more sensitive to extrinsic rewards e.g. money and status. Brain research shows that extroverts experience 'more pleasure and excitement than introverts do', extroverts seem to get an extra buzz from the pursuit and attainment of their goals'. Introverts tend to be better at delaying gratification, get greater satisfaction from intrinsic rewards from slowing down, inspecting and thinking things through. Extroverts are wired to respond. Perhaps your introverted child isn't motivated by a sticker on a sticker chart, maybe he's happier being given time to learn something new or complete that Lego tower.

What does all this mean for parents? It means being able to recognise, appreciate and value the introvert traits that you and your children may have. Rather than trying to change things, we need to raise our children to be able to be themselves, and at the same time, give them some skills so they can navigate life in a noisy world. Rather than shutting down our introverts, we need to be support them, and allowing them to thrive both at school and out in the world.
This book is well worth reading. It's a fascinating topic and the insights and information that Cain provides will make it easier to understand your own introvert tendencies and have more empathy for the introverts in your life.

REVIEW 2:
This book explores what is thought to be the single most important aspect of personality - the introvert-extrovert spectrum. Cain explores what it is to be an introvert, not to be confused with being shy or anti-social, and in particular how introverts manage in a world geared up for extroverts.

Carl Jung devised personality types in 1921 and defined introverts as being drawn to the inner world of thought and feeling whereas extroverts are drawn to the external life of people and activities. In the developed western world society's value system is based on the extrovert ideal. Introversion is regarded as a second class personality trait. Much of the contemporary world is designed to suit extroverts, eg classroom, workplace.

Introverts and extroverts have:
- differing needs as to levels of outside stimulation to function well
- styles of working
- social styles
Studies show that one third to one half of us are introverts.

This book is very useful for parents to understand their child's personality, an essential step for enabling understanding and compassion and for helping them face the world well. If you understand how your introverted child experiences going into a new situation or one that causes stress you can better help them prepare for it. You can make choices for your child that will bring out their best qualities and you are likely to do battle with them less often.

Cain explores what it means to be introverted and debunks several myths around the extrovert ideal and the extrovert passport to success. She celebrates qualities associated with introversion such as deep thought, creativity, perseverance, an ability to delay gratification, sensitivity and deep perceptivity. She explores differences between cultural ideals around temperament. She looks at the differences between brain configurations of extroverts and introverts which helps a parent's understanding of why our children are the way they are. She also looks at the impact of environment on temperament. One very useful chapter looks at styles of communication and was that different temperaments handle conflict and there is a whole chapter devoted to bringing up introverted children with some very practical suggestions for helping them flourish.

Raising Happy Children by Jan Parker and Jan Stimpson

This is a an extremely helpful manual-style book for parents with children aged 0 - 11. It endorses many of the skills we teach at The Parent Practice such as DESCRIPTIVE PRAISE, REFLECTIVE LISTENING, RULES AND REWARDS and BEHAVIOUR.

It contains an abundance of handy tips and offers support in areas such as sleep, schooling, gender development, feeding, communication, family life and anecdotes from a variety of specialists in the parenting world.

A must have if you are looking for a good all-rounder which offers succinct information on the many areas surrounding parenting.

Raising your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

An invaluable guide for parents of children who are just that bit more challenging (and very useful for all parents to understand more about their child's temperament; and their own).

The book outlines a variety of temperamental characteristics that can contribute to a more challenging child; are they intense, hypersensitive, stubborn, energetic, rigid or introverted? Maybe a combination of several?!

The author helps parents see the good side of these traits, and gives sound advice on how to handle them more effectively so that you can preserve what is good while giving the child (and yourself) strategies to ameliorate what is difficult. The book allows you to see your child's negative responses not as a threat to your authority but simply as a strong communication of what it's like to be them (p 309).

Real Parenting for Real Kids by Melissa Hood

Written by Melissa Hood of The Parent Practice. An essential book for every parent. Supported by lots stories from parents with whom The Parent Practice has worked.

Seven Secrets of Successful Parenting by Karen Doherty and Georgia Coleridge

The authors were trained in the skills advocated by The Parent Practice so this book is a helpful refresher with an interesting spin. The authors divide parents into 7 types, celebrating the strengths of each but also helping each to access those other strengths. So the 'sorted parent' is very organised, planning for success so life goes more smoothly, whereas the 'laid back' parent is good at staying calm and their kids end up being happily self reliant.

After outlining these groups and their abilities, the authors tackle typical issues (e.g. cooperation, sleep, table manners) and show you how to utilise your style to best advantage while giving tips about how to add in some additional skills.

Smart Parenting for Smart Kids by Eileen Kennedy-Moore PhD and Mark S Lowenthal PsyD

While this book is useful for all parents, it does highlight those particular issues that may arise for children who do well in conventional academic environments.

Seven specific hot spots are covered: tempering perfectionism, building connection, managing sensitivity, handling cooperation and competition, dealing with authority, developing motivation and finding joy. The authors do give concrete tips for supporting your child through these areas, most effectively around handling the plague of perfectionism. Since smart kids get used to instant, seemingly effortless success early on, they tend to have less practice in a critical life skill 'responding to failure'. They suggest you introduce ideas to your child like the 'mastery zones vs. learning zones', 'no excuses, only plans', and 'reasonable effort'. The authors also give a very useful explanation of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation and solid advice about how to handle masterful negotiators and debaters who just don't take 'no' for an answer. This book is most useful for parents of 5-13 year olds.

The Price of Privilege by Madeline Levine

This book is invaluable. Although it is aimed at teens from 'affluent' families, every parent can learn something. There is a wealth of carefully researched, referenced and clearly presented information as well as practical parenting tips.

Although the book could be depressing, and some parts do make for uncomfortable reading, Madeline Levine is empathetic throughout and keeps the focus on what we, as parents, can do better and how we can keep our relationships with our children healthy and positive in today's increasingly complicated and competitive world.

The original idea for the book came from her observation, as a psychologist practicing in California, that increasing numbers of her teenage patients were showing signs of hopelessness, despair and 'emptiness' or simply feeling disconnected and passive, and this was manifesting in rising levels of drug and alcohol abuse, depression, self-harm and other anxiety-driven behaviours.

She set out to find why these psychological problems are now occurring amongst families with affluent backgrounds, at pretty much the same rate as families from deprived backgrounds, and why these children who seem, on the surface, to have it all are struggling to work their way through the various developmental stages which are so crucial to their future happiness and wellbeing.

She identifies two key contributing factors. First, children from privileged backgrounds are under intense pressure from their parents to perform exceptionally well - in every area, from school to the sports and arts arenas. Secondly, parents in affluent families often become emotionally isolated from their children, who then begin to believe parental love is conditional on their achievements.

She discusses the parenting styles established by Dr. Baumrind 'authoritarian, permissive and authoritative' as well as describing the crucial differences in her own terms as 'intrusive' or 'supportive' parenting.

Her recommended parenting approach 'authoritative and supportive' shows how parents and children can avoid the numerous pitfalls of raising young adults in the 21st century and helps children experience the fundamental stages of healthy development. This includes allowing children to find out about their true selves by spending time alone, supporting them as they try different things, and learn to fail, and developing the concept of responsibility and respect for themselves, as well as for others, and the development of a sense of self-efficacy and agency, the feeling that you have the power to control your own destiny.

The River Cottage and Toddler Cookbook by Nikki Duffy

I am an extremely lucky mother. My daughter eats pretty much anything I put in front of her, and is adventurous with trying foods from all over the world. I, on the other hand, was the complete opposite, a nightmare for my parents. I have several friends who have experienced real challenges with feeding their children, and feeling that the most important goal is to provide nourishment for them only increases their frustration.

With the River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook, Nikki Duffy beautifully acknowledges all the challenges that we have as new parents, and she empathically provides valuable advice for all of us who want to be doing the best we can. Duffy sums it up brilliantly when she writes: 'I can claim to be an expert only on my own children. You are the expert on yours.' She provides all the information, and leaves it up to you as to what will work the best for you and your family.

It's also nice to learn about new parenting movements. I really enjoyed the section about spoon vs baby-led feeding, apparently the idea with baby-led is to allow your baby to start to exploring food with their hands and start feeding themselves as soon as they want. The advantage of baby-led eating is that you can give them small, softer versions of what the rest of the family is eating, and they become more aware of different textures.

The recipes in this book are sorted by season, so the ingredients are all easy to find; the directions are clear to follow and the pictures (I prefer my cookbooks to have photos of what the food should look like) are nice and simple, highlighting the simplicity of the recipes. At first it seemed like it could be a cookbook for much older children, but apparently Duffy considered this as well and most recipes have 'for babies' and 'for grown-ups and older children' versions. As someone who over the course of eight years has spent many a night feeling like a short-order cook, the idea of having an easy-to-prepare meal that everyone will eat is a treat!

This book is part cookbook and part food bible for new parents, with the River Cottage ethos of taking 'a commonsense approach to healthy, ethical eating' running throughout. Duffy includes loads of information about everything from the appropriate stages for different foods to be introduced, to information about foods that should be limited.

As important as all the information and recipes are, Duffy still takes the time to outline the greater context of what food provides a family: quality time spent together preparing, eating and talking over a lovely meal.

New parents of premature babies often have many questions about how and when to start weaning. Bliss has a lot of information, specifically written for parents of premature babies, to support you in your choices for getting started with your child's love of food!

The Whole Brain Child by Dr Dan Siegel and Dr Tina Payne Bryson

This is not only a fascinating book about how the brain works, but using that information the authors offer concrete tips on helping your child. How? They memorably explain that our brains are divided into an upstairs brain, rational, calm, effective, and a downstairs brain, primitive, fight or flight, great when we were living in a cave but not so useful in the grocery store! Similarly, the left and right sides of the brain have different functions.

The authors then give specific suggestions on how to integrate both sides and how to reconnect when the downstairs brain 'slams the baby gate' leading to the upstairs brain. This book is particularly useful to help you deal with younger children's upsets, but its science applies to all ages. They also distinguish between instrumental tantrums (where you make sure the tantrum doesn't 'work' to get what the child wants) and tantrums where the child has lost control (where you offer the comfort and safety your child desperately needs). With memorable, meaningful phrases like 'Name it to Tame it' and 'Connect and Redirect' the authors provide instantly accessible tools that will substantially improve your parenting and your child's emotional intelligence and happiness. One of the best parenting books in the last decade.

Toxic Childhood: How The Modern World Is Damaging Our Children And What We Can Do About It by Sue Palmer

This fascinating book looks at how the modern world is affecting how our children are growing up, and what can be done to minimise the negative impact and maximise the positive opportunities.

A general deterioration in children's learning and behaviour is being reported throughout the world, and Sue Palmer, a leading authority on literacy, looks through all the different reasons for this and shows how they are connected, rather than focusing on or blaming any one particular issue. She suggests there is a fundamental clash between -our technology driven culture and our biological heritage - because children still develop and mature at 'human speed' whereas the world around them moves at 'electric speed'.

With lots of careful research and statistics, the book looks at how it has become increasingly hard for parents to supply good nutrition, adequate sleep, plenty of opportunities to play, effective channels of communication, and quality child-care. This could seem rather daunting and depressing but, at the end of each section, there are plenty of positive and practical ideas of what we can do to help, not only our own children, but generations to come. This book doesn't come across as lecturing or patronising, but instead it is accessible and easy to understand. There are chapters on the media, particularly the internet, and on marketing and celebrity and consumer culture, and it looks at how these can conspire to work against the values and qualities that parents want to impart to their children.

Overall, the book manages to be both cautionary and inspiring at the same time - which is what makes it effective. It's not the sort of book you will forget. It will certainly change the way you look at bringing up children in the 21st century and encourage you to take steps to de-toxify your family life and make the very most of it.

Under Pressure: Rescuing our children from the culture of hyper-parenting by Carl Honore

It's been the recurring theme of the Spring Term at The Parent Practice - how can we counter the increasing pressure on our children to perform, compete, and succeed?

Many of the parents in our classes and workshops are worried about how stressed and rushed their families feel. Although in our hearts we feel we need to do something, there is another voice saying 'but what if everyone else is doing all this, and if I cut down or pull back, will I have let them down.....'

If this sounds like you, take a while to read this book, while you wait for the dates for our new workshop on this topic. The book is easy to read, despite the considerable research, and each chapter focuses on a particular topic such as homework, competitive sports, toys and technology.

Although the author says he hoped initially to find the antidote, he admits he has not. The book is not a step-by-step guide to raising children in the 21st century because, as we all know, every family is unique and has individual needs and desires. However, the book does encourage us to trust our instincts more, and actively look for ways we can fend off the pressures from the world around us.

Carl Honore wrote this book a couple of years ago while living near the Northcote Road (SW London) with his wife and two young children. As his children started school, he realised there really was a culture of 'hyper-parenting' around, and he also realised he was becoming just as involved in it as anyone else, despite his misgivings.....

So he set off around the world to see how different countries are facing the same issues - and how parents across the globe are attempting to take their foot off the pedal and find a way of living and parenting that is less anxious and less competitive, and how some schools are offering a counter-balance where children learn to be, and think, rather than simply perform well in tests.

Inevitably, some of the examples are more extreme than perhaps we have personal experience of or need for, but it offers us a great chance to see that it's not just us who are concerned, and want to do something, it's global.

It also gives us ideas of the small steps we can take to start to make a difference -Honore calls them a 'million small acts of defiance'. It's not about over-throwing or beating the system, it's too complex, too far-reaching, too over-whelming.

As for the million small acts of defiance, you probably didn't notice mine this weekend. But it made a surprisingly big difference to me. I took my watch off. Once I had dropped my eldest son off at his cricket practice (it's scheduled, but please, trust me, it's not pushing - it's vital to his well-being and the safety of our home as he plays cricket all day, in the hallway, the kitchen, and the bedroom, so it's just better for all concerned when he's actually in the nets) and then we just lived a while without any thought for the time. Of course, it won't work during the week, but for a weekend, it was just what the doctor ordered. My next act is to see how much interest I can raise locally in getting a walking bus to school for the summer term.....

It reminds me of the quote from Mahatma Gandhi 'Be the change you want to make in the world.'

When your kids push your buttons by Bonnie Harris

This book looks at why kids' behaviour pushes their parents'buttons and how parents can alter their reactions, rather than giving specific advice about how a parent should respond.

It encourages parents to take responsibility for their part in conflicts and learn how to neutralise their reactions, so they can parent effectively. It explains button-pushing behaviours as unattended needs in both children and parents, and how the gap between what the message the parent intends and the message the child receives can cause particular behaviours.

It fits in closely with The Parent Practice classes in the Applied Skills Course.

Siblings Rivalry, Sibling Love, Jan Parker and Jan Stimpson

This book covers “what every brother and sister need their parents to know” and shows the importance of sibling relationships and their effect on family life and on how children view themselves and others.
It looks at issues such as encouraging sharing and consideration, how to help children handle the arrival of a new sibling, and build positive relationships with their siblings. It looks at the importance of play between siblings, and with friends and alone, and how siblings can learn to share property and possessions, with tips on encouraging co-operation and concern for others.
It discusses ways for parents to deal with sibling conflict that minimise arguments but enable the siblings to learn how to negotiate, deal with disagreements and compromise and assert themselves appropriately.

Siblings without rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlich

This book has the same practical and down-to-earth style as the other books by the same authors, including cartoons and lots of practical experience and current research into the topic of siblings. It focuses on how to treat each child according to their needs, rather than equally, and urges parents to equip their children with attitudes and skills to develop positive caring relationships. It urges parents to resist the urge to compare, and to help siblings acknowledge their feelings about each other, rather than insisting on them being best friends. It gives down-to-earth advice about how to handle the inevitable fighting between siblings, due to competition, envy, resentment amongst other factors, and has helpful sections with common questions from parents, with realistic and practical answers.

Lyra and the Adventure of the Flying Fish by Peter Emina

A lot goes through the minds of parents as they spend hours watching their tiny babies through plastic incubator walls. They are hoping, dreaming and willing their babies to be healthy and gain weight so they can eventually leave the hospital. It is heart wrenching enough for parents, but at least they can participate in small ways. They can help change nappies, clean their little ones, hold their tiny fingers, and have the rare and cherished moments of Kangaroo Care. Prior to today though, I had never considered how painful and frustrating it must be for those close friends and relatives who are not the parents or grandparents, and cannot enter the NICU. They have to while away long hours looking through the large glass windows into a room full of incubators, noisy machines and tiny babies.

Lyra and the Adventure of the Flying Fish was created by a loving aunt and uncle who, unable to enter the NICU, spent hours desperate to hold their little niece, Lyra. Lyra McConnell, the inspiration for the story, was born at 24 weeks and five days, weighing only 680g. She was in the NICU at Luton & Dunstable Hospital for many weeks, until finally she was able to go home.

It was during those hours that the idea of writing this lovely story started to happen. The real Lyra received a small white stuffed toy rabbit as a gift, and her aunt and uncle would imagine that it was there helping her, protecting her and making sure that they would get out of the incubator one day. As they watched the toy rabbit lying beside tiny Lyra, they started to imagine a world where Lyra was well and free. The CPAP that covered her tiny face was imagined as a snorkel, and the story naturally progressed to the ocean. This very sweet story is about Lyra's search for W Rabbit who has been taken by a school of flying fish as they head off to their flying lesson. She searches the ocean with the help of a fantastic, eccentric turtle who has a house and amazing machines all within his shell. Together they outsmart a sneaky shark to rescue W Rabbit.

Peter Emina and Alice Ridley, Lyra's real life aunt and uncle, created this book as a gift for Lyra so that she will always remember the strength and sheer determination that she possessed in those first few months of her life. This is a delightful book for all those children whose fight for life started very early on - so that, like Lyra, they also get to be reminded of how extraordinary they are.

I really loved reading this book with my daughter, because it brought back a lot of memories of one of her first toys: Mrs Mouse. Mrs Mouse used to be almost the same length as Sophie's torso, about 15cm! Now Sophie is almost eight, and Mrs Mouse is barely the size of her hand! This book will strike a chord with those parents of ex-prem babies who spent all those hours dreaming of the day their baby would be bigger than their tiny toys. Now, beloved Mrs Mouse never leaves Sophie's bed. She, like W Rabbit will I'm sure forever be a treasured reminder of the strength, fearlessness and sheer determination that these amazing children possess.

Martian in the Playground by Clare Sainsbury

Claire Sainsbury has Aspergers so she is uniquely qualified to describe what it is like to be a child with the syndrome, the trials and heartbreaking tribulations. We recommend this book for any parent of such a child (and, when old enough, that child) but also for everyone so that they can gain a better understanding of what it is like to be on the autistic spectrum. A slim volume, this book has a rare combination of honesty, empathy and accuracy. Clare used not only her memories but synthesised those of 25 other students. Ultimately, the book is profoundly optimistic; indeed, Clare graduated from being a martian in the playground to take a first at Oxford.

The Out of Sync Child: Recognising and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder by Carol Stock Kranowitz

This amazing book is a must read for any parent whose child displays a bewildering range of inconsistent behaviours, from complaining about how uncomfortable their socks are to commenting on how smelly certain foods are to becoming distressed easily at loud noises and bangs, whilst at the same time being incredibly noisy themselves! Easy to read; packed full of practical examples and useful checklists to help parents recognise if their child has some sensory integration difficulties, S.I.D. It encourages parents to seek help for their children at an early age and with early Occupational Therapy intervention, children's lives can be improved greatly, together with that of the parents.

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

This spectacular little book was written by Naoki Higashida, a 13 year old autistic boy who learnt to communicate by pointing to letters on a cardboard keyboard. This book is a godsend for all parents of autistic children allowing them to fully understand why an autistic child flaps his hands in front of his face; suddenly jumps on a whim; why the air conditioning unit is as deafening as an electric drill or why his comfy jeans are now as scratchy as steel wool.

It dispels many myths such as that autistic people are anti- social loners who lack empathy with others; and that they are oblivious to other people's feelings.
The book is enlightening and heart wrenching as Naoki answers a series of questions which are answered with a simplicity and honesty that is a complete revelation for those of us living in the neuro-typical world.

The request is to ask for our patience and compassion when dealing with autistic people and this book will enable both teachers and parents to be more compassionate and understanding and give a ray of hope to them living a life full of light.

Why are they so weird? by Barbara Strauch

Many parents find teenagers difficult to understand, generally blaming hormones, but this book draws on recent research into the incredible changes in the teenage brain involving major re-modelling and massive growth spurts. The book also looks at the effects of earlier experiences and the environment, as well as puberty. All these result in behavioural issues involving impulse control, memory, and delaying gratification, as well as others. The book covers other issues such as why teens need to seek risk and excitement, and sleep late. The book urges parents to be parents, rather than friends, explaining that teens today are under pressure to grow up fast and yet adolescence is a crucial step in their development and one that needs to be celebrated, rather than simply endured or survived.

 

I Feel Angry, Mike Gordon

One of a range including I Feel Sad, I Feel Jealous, I Feel Frightened. Age range 3-7

It's Not What you Got!, Dr Wayne W Dyer

Lessons for Kids on Money and Abundance. Age range 5-10

What to Do Kids Guides, Dawn Haubner

A range that includes Worry, Temper, Your Dread your Bed, When Bad Habits Take Hold. Self help books for kids with areas they can write/draw things down. Age Range 5-9

The Smart Girls Guide to Friendship Troubles by Patti Kelley Criswell

This book is addressed to pre-teen and teenage girls, in the style of an 'agony aunt' column in a magazine, with real, practical advice and common-sense. Although it is directed to an American audience it has much that is applicable to children across the world.
It discusses what makes a good friend, and what friendships can involve. It explores common problems with friendships, such as feeling excluded, jealous or betrayed, and offers advice and practical tools for working out problems and dealing with emotions. It looks at bullying from all perspectives, how it happens, and the effects on those involved, and gives detailed advice on where girls can turn to for help. It also covers the importance of nurturing self-esteem, and avoiding the need to fit in with the crowd.

Very exciting; sorta scary move. - about moving house and helping children by Lori Woodring

Review 1
As a parent coach, helping families navigate the roller coaster of growing up requires good resources. At last, a GREAT resource for families on the move!

Dr Woodring's book has all the right content and hits just the right tone. It's the sort of book you can just leave around for kids to "find", or you can enjoy together. It is totally interactive with lots of open ended questions and just the right amount of reassurance. Parents already work super-humanly hard to make their moves successful -- with this book, they can more easily focus on the work that most matters ... supporting their children. I'll certainly be recommending this to my clients.

Review 2
Having recently made the move from the London to the New York with a 10 year old, I can truly say that this book was a wonderful way of talking my daughter through the move. It helped her to put words to all the thoughts and feelings that were going through her mind and it led to some pretty great conversations.

I love how the workbook helps children to say goodbye in such a positive way, and as well, opens up new ideas of all the great things that moving will make possible. The combination of games, drawing and writing makes it a fun and varied experience. It was great fun to sit with my daughter as she worked her way through the book as it opened up opportunities for me to also share my thoughts on moving.

This is a must for parents who want to positively support their children through the transition of moving.

 

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