The best books on raising emotionally healthy children

The Books I Picked & Why

The Importance of Being Little: What Young Children Really Need from Grownups

By Erika Christakis

The Importance of Being Little: What Young Children Really Need from Grownups

Why this book?

Erika Christakis offers a scientifically-grounded view of early childhood in a very approachable format for parents, teachers, childcare workers, and anyone who cares about young children. Christakis suggests we can make a few easy changes to nurture early learning and development and empower children through our relationships with the child.

The importance of playing and social interaction are critical aspects of child development and social emotional learning, but often children are expected to conform to adult-centered goals such as unrealistic expectations, adult schedules, and activities based on adult preferences for the child that might not align with their strengths and interests.

I think back and remember how creative and curious I was as a child, and as a parent I am reminded of the power of a child's mind to imagine and create. Children often also have wisdom beyond their years. As adults we need to not only see our children but truly listen to them. We can learn from them and they can also help us reconnect with our own playfulness and creativity.


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The Everyday Parenting Toolkit: The Kazdin Method for Easy, Step-By-Step, Lasting Change for You and Your Child

By Alan E. Kazdin, Carlo Rotella

The Everyday Parenting Toolkit: The Kazdin Method for Easy, Step-By-Step, Lasting Change for You and Your Child

Why this book?

My coauthor Gloria Russo-Wassell introduced me to the wonderful world of Dr. Kazdin. I was skeptical at first about his all positive rewards, no negative punishment techniques, but the more I read, the more I realize he is right on the mark. When you associate positive rewards, praise, and feelings with specific children’s behaviors they will remember those events much more than the memories of being punished. We need to move past punishment as a cornerstone of parenting and discipline, and consider Dr. Kazdin’s ABC method.


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Raising Resilient Children : Fostering Strength, Hope, and Optimism in Your Child

By Robert Brooks, Sam Goldstein

Raising Resilient Children : Fostering Strength, Hope, and Optimism in Your Child

Why this book?

This is one of the best books on raising resilient, emotionally healthy children. Generation Alpha is being bombarded by traumatic events which they learn about on YouTube, television, and from grownups around them talking about these events and the news. But there is a way to raise emotionally, healthy children even today and the key is teaching them resilience. There are so many great insights in this book but it’s practical and easy to digest. Our children have lost some of their resilience during the pandemic. It’s up to us, as adults in their lives – parents, teachers, counselors, and coaches – to re-instill a sense of security in our child’s lives but also the idea that once you’ve been through tough times other setbacks in life can seem easier to get through.


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Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

By John Gottman, Joan Declaire

Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

Why this book?

This is an older book, based on many of Coleman’s principles from Emotional Intelligence, but it’s worthwhile. Raising emotionally intelligent children who can empathize with the struggles of others, want to help others and their peers, and can put things into perspective (in an age-appropriate way) is absolutely critical today. As we see basic kindness and decency fall by the wayside in so many places in society, we have to be extra vigilant to not let the next generation fall into the same self-centered, uncaring patterns that so many adults unfortunately exhibit. This book provides insights into how to nurture emotional intelligence in children, even those who seem to be on the wrong path and need some extra support in developing this critical characteristic.


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The Mindful Child: How to Help Your Kid Manage Stress and Become Happier, Kinder, and More Compassionate

By Susan Kaiser Greenland

The Mindful Child: How to Help Your Kid Manage Stress and Become Happier, Kinder, and More Compassionate

Why this book?

Mindfulness has become a more popular concept in the realm of relaxation training, wellness, spirituality, and health, but many books are focused on adults. Children can also practice mindfulness which is having a reflective stance in daily life including appreciating experiences in the moment, being mindful of how you speak to people and of your relationships, incorporating a meditative element to daily life, and reflecting deeply on experiences and learning from those experiences. The author was involved in developing a mindfulness curriculum for school children which has been deemed quite effective in increasing focus and calm and decreasing discord and behavioral problems among children in the toughest classrooms. Check out this book, then try a book on mindful parenting!


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