The best books for parent-child communication - even when it’s difficult

Gail A. Poyner Author Of Closing Pandora's Box: Empowering Parents to Help Their Children Reject Pornography
By Gail A. Poyner

Who am I?

As a practicing psychologist for the past twenty years, I have treated hundreds of children and teens who have behavior problems, as well as provided help for parents who want to improve their parenting skills. Central to many, if not most, of the problems I see revolve around poor communication. Many parents don’t know how to effectively communicate about certain issues, which often causes even more problems with their children. However, when parents learn how to approach their children without reacting in frustration and anger, I’ve witnessed amazing improvement in both behavior and the parent-child relationship.


I wrote...

Closing Pandora's Box: Empowering Parents to Help Their Children Reject Pornography

By Gail A. Poyner,

Book cover of Closing Pandora's Box: Empowering Parents to Help Their Children Reject Pornography

What is my book about?

You may be concerned that your child/teen has been exposed to pornography, or discovered that they are regularly viewing it. However, there are few books written by experts to assist parents in helping their children resist the incredibly strong pull of one of today’s most damaging and pervasive addictions. Closing Pandora’s Box is just that—a guide to help parents teach their children the skills they need to reject this increasingly disturbing media.

Closing Pandora’s Box is full of resources, education, and worksheets to assist you and your child/teen cope with the relentless onslaught of pornography and its damaging effects. With effective communication, skill, and the power of relationships, parents can make a difference when it comes to fighting the dangerous riptide of pornography. 

The books I picked & why

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

By Adele Faber, Elaine Mazlish,

Book cover of How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

Why this book?

Learning how to effectively communicate with children is the most important thing a parent can do. As a practicing psychologist, behavior problems, as well as provided help for parents who want to improve their parenting skills—even while setting firm limits. I’ve seen great success as parents learn to listen to their children in a manner that that promotes a willingness to cooperate with parental redirection. Amazing things can happen when children are allowed to appropriately express their feelings. “Because I said so…” just doesn’t work.” How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk does.

1-2-3 Magic: 3-Step Discipline for Calm, Effective, and Happy Parenting

By Thomas W. Phelan,

Book cover of 1-2-3 Magic: 3-Step Discipline for Calm, Effective, and Happy Parenting

Why this book?

Dr. Phelan strikes a home run with his 1-2-3 Magic program for disciplining children, by teaching parents how to use calm communication as opposed to that infused with frustration. The strength of his approach centers on getting toddlers to listen by using mild language and consistency, while refraining from exhibiting the strong emotions that often accompany attempts to reign in negative behavior. Phelan’s approach encourages parents to refrain from reactive communication, by replacing it with a much more effective method of redirecting little ones away from negative behavior. If you want to increase your toddler’s compliance, give 1-2-3 Magic a try. You may think counting doesn’t work, but done correctly, it can add up to amazing results!

What to Do When Your Temper Flares: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Problems with Anger

By Dawn Huebner, Bonnie Matthews (illustrator),

Book cover of What to Do When Your Temper Flares: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Problems with Anger

Why this book?

The publisher of this workbook is Magination Press, which is associated with the American Psychological Association. As a psychologist myself, I can testify to the benefits of having an angry child go through the specific learning exercises contained in this workbook. Each chapter and exercise builds upon the previous ones so that kids can learn to manage angry feelings, hot-tempered communication, and negative responses to things they don’t like. Parents are encouraged to learn along with their child as they progress through understanding the body’s response to angry feelings, as well as how to appropriately respond to them. This is an easily understood workbook that many of my patients and parents have used with success.

Do You Have a Secret?

By Jennifer Moore-Mallinos, Marta Fabrega (illustrator),

Book cover of Do You Have a Secret?

Why this book?

For children, secrets can be a fun part of life. However, some secrets can be disturbing and even dangerous for a child to keep. Do You Have a Secret helps young children make the distinction between good secrets and bad secrets. Read together with a parent, a child can learn which secrets should not be kept inside, as well as how talking about them can actually help them feel better. This well-written book should be considered essential to a parent’s library of books that increase communication between parents and children. In today’s world, some secrets can be devasting to a child’s emotional health and well-being. Setting the stage for children to talk about them is one of the best things we can do in a world where there are simply too many secrets for children to cope with.

I Don't Want to Talk About It

By Jeanie Ransom, Kathryn Kunz Finney (illustrator),

Book cover of I Don't Want to Talk About It

Why this book?

I frequently use this child’s book to help young children cope with the divorce of their parents. Too often, I’ve found, parents don’t know how to talk to their children about divorce, and even more often, children don’t know how to talk to their parents about their feelings and what they may see as the end of their family. I Don’t Want to Talk About It follows a young girl who just doesn’t want to talk about her fears and painful feelings when she discovers that her parents are divorcing. However, with the gentle help of her parents, she is ultimately able to gain the courage to talk to them about what the future holds. The children I’ve counseled about divorce have responded well to this soft and empathic book. I highly recommend it.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in parenting, secrets, and rage?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about parenting, secrets, and rage.

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Rage Explore 9 books about rage

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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