The best books on gentle, non-punitive, relationship-building parenting

Who am I?

Judy Arnall, BA, CCFE, DTM is a certified brain and child development specialist and master of non-punitive parenting and education practices. She is the bestselling author of 5 print books translated into 5 languages, including Discipline Without Distress and Parenting With Patience. She has also compiled a handy tips book titled Attachment Parenting Tips Raising Toddlers To Teens. Her latest book, Unschooling To University: Relationships matter most in a world crammed with content, is becoming a bestseller in an age of parents seeking educational options. She is the parent of 5 self-directed educated, attachment parented children of which 3 have already graduated university, 1 is halfway through, and 1 is enjoying a Masters program.

I wrote...

Parenting With Patience: Turn frustration into connection with 3 easy steps

By Judy Arnall,

Book cover of Parenting With Patience: Turn frustration into connection with 3 easy steps

What is my book about?

This is a quick book to read when you are calm, to use when you are not! Positive discipline has to begin with positive stress management. All families have stress. Make it work for you! Learn how to recognize stress, manage it, and regain your patience before yelling. Learn why children have tantrums at all ages, and how to help them channel anger into lifelong skills for self-control and communication. Learn normal childhood development, capabilities, and temperament, so you can respectfully and non-punitively resolve everyday family issues.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Parent Effectiveness Training: The Proven Program for Raising Responsible Children

Why did I love this book?

This is the book that started the whole “learn about parenting” movement. Yes, it has been published for 60 years, but children’s needs have not changed in the past million years, and the premise of non-punitive parenting and relationship skills taught in the book, are still present today in other books under different names. The skills are still essential to learn for building solid parent-child relationships. In this book, parents learn assertiveness skills, active listening skills, and problem-solving skills as well as ideas to resolve value differences with older children. It is totally non-punitive and essential for every parent who wants to meet their children’s social and emotional needs as well as build excellent relationships with their children, without being permissive.

By Thomas Gordon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Parent Effectiveness Training as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

UPDATED 2019 EDITION • The pioneering book that’s guided millions of parents to more effectively resolve conflicts, communicate, and create loving relationships with their children—from Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr. Thomas Gordon
P.E.T., or Parent Effectiveness Training, began in 1962 as the first national parent-training program to teach parents how to communicate more effectively with kids and offer step-by-step advice to resolve family conflicts so everybody wins. This beloved classic is the most studied, highly praised, and proven parenting program in the world—and it will work for you. Now revised and updated, this groundbreaking guide will show you:
• How…

Book cover of Positive Discipline in Everyday Parenting PDEP

Why did I love this book?

This book gives parents a good insight into how their children think and feel at different ages. Equipped with this knowledge, parents can understand how punishment can damage children’s self-esteem, relationships with others, and essential communication with their parents. It discusses temperament and how to problem-solve with children of all ages, instead of punishing them for parenting challenges.

Book cover of Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles: Winning for a Lifetime

Why did I love this book?

If you have a “spicey”, high need, strong-willed child, this is the best book for understanding how temperament affects a child’s behaviour. It contains a lot of helpful strategies for parenting or teaching a child with the spirited end of the temperament continuum.

By Mary Sheedy Kurcinka,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of Raising Your Spirited Child, the award-winning bestseller that has helped millions, a pioneering, research-based guide to help parents end power struggles and begin connecting with their child.


Does bedtime mean struggle time, with your child negotiating for "just another ten minutes" every single night? Do most school mornings end with your child in tears? Does your child ignore your repeated requests to get up and do their chores and homework?


Every family experiences power struggles, but these daily tugs of war are not inevitable. Beloved parenting expert Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, Ed.D. addresses the everyday challenges of…

Book cover of Life Span Development: A Topical Approach

Why did I love this book?

Every parent needs a good book on child development from the ages of birth to adulthood to understand how their child is growing in the physical, emotional, academic/cognitive, and social domains of development. When parents and caregivers understand what to expect at different ages, they can adapt their parenting decisions appropriately. Knowing if their child’s behaviour is a discipline issue that needs addressing or simply a development issue that will take care of itself, as a child ages, is the key to successful parenting.

By Robert Feldman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life Span Development as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A brief, topical overview of life span development
Life Span Development: A Topical Approach helps students to see the "big picture" of development across the entire life span. Throughout this brief version of his hallmark text Development Across the Life Span, author Robert Feldman employs a modular framework that offers instructors maximum flexibility to teach the course however they envision. Concise coverage of all key principles helps instructors cover the whole of the field within a standard term, while a topical approach makes it easier for students to understand the scope of development within particular areas (such as social or…

Book cover of Learning All the Time

Why did I love this book?

Here is another game-changing book that is a few decades old, but has spanned a worldwide movement in the knowledge, research, and growth of self-directed education. This book addresses how children learn everything they need to know through self-directed play, projects, and exploration for grades 1 to 12. It also shows the damaging effects of institutional school, bullying, and how direct teaching can stop a child’s curiosity and creativity needed for 20th-century careers. Children do not need school to learn. Learning is everywhere, anytime, and is available to everyone.

By John Holt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Learning All the Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The essence of John Holt's insight into learning and small children is captured in Learning All The Time. This delightful book by the influential author of How Children Fail and How Children Learn shows how children learn to read, write, and count in their everyday life at home and how adults can respect and encourage this wonderful process. For human beings, he reminds us, learning is as natural as breathing. John Holt's wit, his gentle wisdom, and his infectious love of little children bring joy to parent and teacher alike.

5 book lists we think you will like!

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