The best books on parenting like a pro

Who am I?

In the early 2000s I was a dad of 2 daughters with no idea what I was doing. After some major parenting blunders I quit a successful radio career and returned to university to learn how to become a better dad. And 8 ½ years later I graduated with an honours degree in psychology and a PhD! A short time later my wife and I had our 6th daughter. The books on this list have paved the way for us to flourish as a family. Today I have Australia’s no. 1 podcast for parenting, my own TV show (Parental Guidance), and a family I love like crazy. 


I wrote...

Miss-connection: Why Your Teenage Daughter 'Hates' You, Expects the World and Needs to Talk

By Justin Coulson,

Book cover of Miss-connection: Why Your Teenage Daughter 'Hates' You, Expects the World and Needs to Talk

What is my book about?

There has never been a better time to be a teenage girl. But perhaps there has never been a harder time. We know that connection is at the heart of our teenage daughters' happiness. And we do our best to have strong connections with our girls. But despite this, we often feel a disconnect. Or perhaps, more precisely, a mis-connect.

If you're looking to understand your teen daughter better and deepen your connection with her, this book is your guide. Drawing on cutting-edge psychology research along with interviews and surveys from close to 400 teenage girls, Miss-connection will take you into the world your teen girl experiences and help you connect with her the way she needs you to.

The books I picked & why

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Punished By Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes

By Alfie Kohn,

Book cover of Punished By Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes

Why this book?

This book was the one that opened my eyes to a whole new world of research, relationships, and parenting. It drove me to a new life studying psychology, and upended everything I thought I knew about parenting. This book changed my life trajectory, and the trajectory of my family—forever.

(With honourable mentions for Unconditional Parenting, The Myth of the Spoiled Child, The Homework Myth, and No Contest, all by Kohn).

Punished By Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes

By Alfie Kohn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Punished By Rewards as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since its publication in 1993, this groundbreaking book has convinced countless parents, teachers, and managers that working with people is more successful than doing things to them. "Do rewards motivate people?" asks Kohn. "Yes. They motivate people to get rewards." Moreover, the use of rewards actually undermines the quality of people's work or learning - and causes them to lose interest in whatever they've been bribed to do. Seasoned with humour and familiar examples - and updated to include a wealth of recent research, Punished by Rewards presents an argument unsettling to hear but impossible to dismiss.


Between Parent and Child

By Haim G. Ginott,

Book cover of Between Parent and Child

Why this book?

There's a reason that this book is considered one of the ultimate books ever written on parenting: it's sublime in its simplicity and practicality. Pick this book up and read a few pages and you're guaranteed to be changed. You'll act differently towards your children. They'll feel the difference in you, and they'll act differently towards you. Ginott has written the classic and he did it years before we had the research to shine a light on just how right he was. 

Between Parent and Child

By Haim G. Ginott,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Strengthen your relationship with your children with this revised edition of the book by renowned psychologist Dr. Haim Ginott that has helped millions of parents around the world.

In this revised edition, Dr. Alice Ginott, clinical psychologist and wife of the late Haim Ginott, and family relationship specialist Dr. H. Wallace Goddard usher this bestselling classic into the new century while retaining the book’s positive message and Haim Ginott’s warm, accessible voice. Based on the theory that parenting is a skill that can be learned, this indispensable handbook will show you how to:
• Discipline without threats, bribes, sarcasm, and…


Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

By John Gottman, Joan Declaire,

Book cover of Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

Why this book?

Gottman is widely considered the ultimate relationships guru, worldwide. When he turned his attention to parenting to write this book, he provided parents with a blueprint for understanding and dealing with children's emotions that is unsurpassed. I have used this book as a reference for nearly 20 years and still find gems that inspire better interactions between my kids and I. One of the best parenting books on the planet.

Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

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…


Mindset: Changing The Way You think To Fulfil Your Potential

By Carol S. Dweck,

Book cover of Mindset: Changing The Way You think To Fulfil Your Potential

Why this book?

Now and then a psychology researcher has a breakthrough that is so perfectly practical and useful that everybody needs to know about it.  This book describes that breakthrough. Some people think intelligence is a fixed trait. You're either smart or dumb. Full stop. Others believe intelligence is malleable. Time, life, and experience can build intelligence like weights can build a muscle. It turns out, regardless of what you think, you're right. But one of these mindsets is much more useful for a satisfying, growth-oriented life. This is a life-changing book.

Mindset: Changing The Way You think To Fulfil Your Potential

By Carol S. Dweck,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Mindset as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, in decades of research on achievement and success, has discovered a truly groundbreaking idea-the power of our mindset.

Dweck explains why it's not just our abilities and talent that bring us success-but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. She makes clear why praising intelligence and ability doesn't foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment, but may actually jeopardize success. With the right mindset, we can motivate our kids and help them to raise their grades, as well as reach our own goals-personal and professional. Dweck reveals what all great parents, teachers,…


The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook: What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing

By Bruce D. Perry, Maia Szalavitz,

Book cover of The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook: What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing

Why this book?

A harrowing series of accounts outlining the impact trauma has on children. As someone who has little capacity for hearing horrible stories of damaged lives because it makes me so sad, Perry has been sensitive and gentle. Read this to understand trauma, and to learn how to build resilience.

The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook: What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing

By Bruce D. Perry, Maia Szalavitz,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What happens when a young child is traumatized? How does terror affect a child's mind-and how can that mind recover? Child psychiatrist Bruce Perry has treated children faced with unimaginable horror: homicide survivors, witnesses to their own parents' murders, children raised in closets and cages, the Branch Davidian children, and victims of extreme neglect and family violence. In The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, Dr. Perry tells their stories of trauma and transformation. He explains what happens to the brain when children are exposed to extreme stress and trauma and reveals his innovative (non-medicinal) methods for helping to…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in parenting, mindset, and behaviorism?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about parenting, mindset, and behaviorism.

Parenting Explore 132 books about parenting
Mindset Explore 6 books about mindset
Behaviorism Explore 17 books about behaviorism

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Organized Mind, The Marshmallow Test, and Educated if you like this list.