The best books for tired and frazzled parents

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for children’s welfare began as a psychology undergraduate over 30 years ago and burns just as fiercely today. As a trainer and author, I share with parents and professionals recent advances in research that reveal the small but powerful steps adults can take to help children flourish and thrive. This requires letting go of outdated and harmful views of children and offering them the tender care and guidance they need to come to believe that they are loved, worthy and capable. I absolutely believe that by taking these steps together we can build a more harmonious and loving society.


I wrote...

Helping Your Baby to Sleep: Why Gentle Techniques Work Best

By Anni Gethin, Beth Macgregor,

Book cover of Helping Your Baby to Sleep: Why Gentle Techniques Work Best

What is my book about?

Raising a baby is tiring work! Especially in cultures where parents have little family support. This - combined with the West’s zeal for independence and self-reliance - has led many ‘experts’ to espouse that babies should self-settle and sleep for long periods without assistance. Parents of babies who don’t meet these expectations often feel pressure to ‘teach good sleep habits’ by leaving their babies to cry – a distressing experience for babies and parents.

Our book offers a more realistic understanding of the developmental and emotional vulnerabilities which can make independent sleep hard for young children. Endorsed by the world’s leading Infant Mental Health Specialists, it also offers tips, advice, and encouragement for tired parents who want to support healthy sleep habits.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children

Beth Macgregor Why did I love this book?

There’s a reason over a million copies of this book have been sold. It describes the many emotional and thinking skills children require to live a happy life and explains how challenging behaviours occur when demands are placed on children that exceed the skills they have to manage those demands. This book gifts parents the key to unlocking the mystery of their children’s uncooperative, frustrating, and even violent behaviours. It’s rich with examples, scenarios and clear suggestions for action, which make it easy to read and incredibly useful in building parents’ skills and confidence. You’ll never think about children’s behaviour the same way again.

By Ross W. Greene,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Explosive Child as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now in a revised and updated 6th edition, the groundbreaking, research-based approach to understanding and parenting children who frequently exhibit severe fits of temper and other challenging behaviors, from a distinguished clinician and pioneer in the field.

What's an explosive child? A child who responds to routine problems with extreme frustration-crying, screaming, swearing, kicking, hitting, biting, spitting, destroying property, and worse. A child whose frequent, severe outbursts leave his or her parents feeling frustrated, scared, worried, and desperate for help. Most of these parents have tried everything-reasoning, explaining, punishing, sticker charts, therapy, medication-but to no avail. They can't figure out…


Book cover of 100 Ways to Calm the Crying

Beth Macgregor Why did I love this book?

You can trust Pinky McKay. A Lactation Consultant with decades of experience who has worked with thousands of parents, there’s not a baby problem that she hasn’t encountered and solved. This compassionate book covers the many reasons baby may be crying and is loaded with solid, kind, useful, practical advice to help frazzled parents soothe their precious bundles. Importantly, it also has baby feeding information you can trust. Written with bite-size ideas so that tired parents can read it in five-minute chunks if they choose, Pinky’s empathy for babies and parents can be felt on every page.

By Pinky McKay,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 100 Ways to Calm the Crying as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

100 Ways to Calm the Crying addresses the reasons babies cry, from the normal developmental changes that may make them more sensitive, to painful conditions such as colic and reflux. Along the way, Pink McKay offers gentle strategies to help you calm and connect with your baby, practical tips to help you cope with crying and sleepless nights, and ways to identify symptoms that may require professional help.


Book cover of Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

Beth Macgregor Why did I love this book?

Dr. John Gottman is an internationally acclaimed research psychologist whose Emotion Coaching technique has transformed the lives of countless parents and children across the world. This book helps parents understand the big feelings which are often at the root of children’s tantrums and upsets and offers a tried and true, research-based, practical way to respond. Dr. Gottman’s techniques not only help parents respond more confidently and effectively to their children - reducing the length and frequency of tantrums and upsets – but also increase their children’s self-confidence, mental health, and relationship skills. What could be better?!

By John Gottman, Joan Declaire,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child is John Gottman’s groundbreaking guide to teaching children to understand and regulate their emotional world.

Intelligence That Comes from the Heart

Every parent knows the importance of equipping children with the intellectual skills they need to succeed in school and life. But children also need to master their emotions. Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child is a guide to teaching children to understand and regulate their emotional world. And as acclaimed psychologist and researcher John Gottman shows, once they master this important life skill, emotionally intelligent children will enjoy increased self-confidence, greater physical health, better performance…


Book cover of Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life

Beth Macgregor Why did I love this book?

Dr. Stuart Shanker is the rock star of Self-Regulation; what he doesn’t know about children is not worth knowing. This book lifts the lid on the many hidden and surprising sources of stress for children, and the impact stress has on their mind, behaviour, and nervous system. Packed with stories of the children he has treated and families he has helped and peppered with facts about the brain and nervous system, this book helps parents discover what could be causing their children’s behavioural, emotional, and learning problems. Best of all, it offers concrete steps parents can take to help children develop their self-regulation skills and successfully engage with life.

By Stuart Shanker,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Self-Reg as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There's no such thing as a bad kid. That's what a lifetime of experience has taught Dr. Stuart Shanker. No matter how difficult, out of control, distracted, or exhausted a child might seem, there's a way forward: self-regulation. Overturning decades of conventional wisdom, this radical new technique allows children and the adults who care for them to regain their composure and peace of mind.

Self-Reg is a groundbreaking book that presents an entirely new understanding of your child's emotions and behavior and a practical guide for parents to help their kids engage calmly and successfully in learning and life. Grounded…


Book cover of The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind

Beth Macgregor Why did I love this book?

The past two decades have seen an explosion in neuroscience’s understanding of children’s brains and what they need for best development. Dr. Dan Siegel is a master translator of this research; he turns complicated science into easy-to-understand language and cartoons. This book offers simple and super-effective brain-friendly discipline strategies parents can use to turn conflict and chaos into connection and calm. 

By Daniel J. Siegel, Tina Payne Bryson,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Whole-Brain Child as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this pioneering, practical book for parents, neuroscientist Daniel J. Siegel and parenting expert Tina Payne Bryson explain the new science of how a child's brain is wired and how it matures. Different parts of a child's brain develop at different speeds and understanding these differences can help you turn any outburst, argument, or fear into a chance to integrate your child's brain and raise calmer, happier children.

Featuring clear explanations, age-appropriate strategies and illustrations that will help you explain these concepts to your child, The Whole-Brain Child will help your children to lead balanced, meaningful, and connected lives using…


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A Beggar's Bargain

By Jan Sikes,

Book cover of A Beggar's Bargain

Jan Sikes Author Of The Edge of Too Late

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Avid reader Lover of Music Astral Traveler Tarot Reader Grandmother

Jan's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Historical Fiction Post WW2.

A shocking proposal that changes everything.

Desperate to honor his father’s dying wish, Layken Martin vows to do whatever it takes to save the family farm.
Once the Army discharges him following World War II, Layken returns to Missouri to find his legacy in shambles and in jeopardy. A foreclosure notice from the bank doubles the threat. He appeals to the local banker for more time—a chance to rebuild, plant, and harvest crops and time to heal far away from the noise of bombs and gunfire.

But the banker firmly denies his request. Now what?

Then, the banker makes an alternative proposition—marry his unwanted daughter, Sara Beth, in exchange for a two-year extension. Out of options, money, and time, Layken agrees to the bargain.

Now, he has two years to make a living off the land while he shares his life with a stranger. If he fails at either, he’ll lose it all.

A Beggar's Bargain

By Jan Sikes,

What is this book about?

A shocking proposal that changes everything.

Desperate to honor his father's dying wish, Layken Martin vows to do whatever it takes to save the family farm.

Once the Army discharges him following World War II, Layken returns to Missouri to find his legacy in shambles and in jeopardy. A foreclosure notice from the bank doubles the threat. He appeals to the local banker for more time-a chance to rebuild, plant, and harvest crops and time to heal far away from the noise of bombs and gunfire.

But the banker firmly denies his request. Now what?

Then, the banker makes an…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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