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

The Books I Picked & Why

Parent Effectiveness Training: The Proven Program for Raising Responsible Children

By Thomas Gordon

Parent Effectiveness Training: The Proven Program for Raising Responsible Children

Why 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.


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Positive Discipline in Everyday Parenting PDEP

By Joan E. Durrant

Positive Discipline in Everyday Parenting PDEP

Why 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.

This book is free and available here.


Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles: Winning for a Lifetime

By Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles: Winning for a Lifetime

Why 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.


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Life Span Development: A Topical Approach

By Robert Feldman

Life Span Development: A Topical Approach

Why 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.


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Learning All the Time

By John Holt

Learning All the Time

Why 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.


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