Awesome Parenting Books

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These are my top five parenting books for ages 0-5 that I’ve found the most resourceful.

“How to give your baby encyclopedic knowledge” by Glenn Doman

“The Vaccine Book” by Robert Sears

“1-2-3 Magic” by Thomas Phelan

“How to raise an amazing child the montessori way” by Tim Seldon or “Teach me to do it myself” by Maja Pitamic

“The complete resource book for preschoolers” by Pam Schiller or “Gymboree play & learn”

Feel free to post below some of your favorite parenting books!


Light up your Childs mind

I have thoroughly enjoyed my second reading of “Light up your Childs mind” by J. Renzulli PhD & S. Reise PhD and wanted to share some of my notes from these expert’s 30 years of research. If you have not read it yet, it is highly recommended & worth your time.

Pg. 201 last paragraph: We look to the school environment to understand why bright students lose their interests and drive. Minimal work ma be accepted by teachers and considered perfectly satisfactory. The classroom and the school day are arranged to promote rote learning and conformity, rather than critical thinking & problem solving. Perhaps most significantly, the curriculum is unchallenging. Attempts to improve achievements across the board focus on what has been popularly called drill and kill: drill the basics of language arts and math, take tests to determine if everyone got it, drill some more.

Pg. 210: Extracurricular activities make a positive difference. Much research suggests that young people who are involved in clubs, plays, or musical productions, 4 h programs, science fairs, sports, and so on are less likely to underachieve in school. These activities take commitment and time. By having too much time on his hands, a child is more opt to develop poor self-regulation strategies.

The major goal is to produce a high quality product or service. There are no tests and grades. The adult leaders tend to be more like guides and compatriots than teachers. A qualitatively different kind of relationship develops between the young people and the adults.

Using his strengths and interests empowers a child to do better. The higher-end learning projects we’ve been describing in this book are invariably fun for kids. Their attention is engaged. They’re inspired to stretch themselves and do well at what they’ve chosen t do. Child centered approaches that emphasize personal strengths and value personal interest help turn the tide from academic failure toward academic success.

Pg. 212: The got the idea that a child’s work should have a real-world purpose and real world audience, rather than being something to be graded and taken home. And they had faith! When a child became discouraged and felt he was getting nowhere, a teacher demonstrated belief and patience—and eventually, shared in the excitement of the student’s achievement.

–         Many children want to feel useful in the world.

Pg.228 Many ways to help your youngster build on his strengths & talents, few simple but powerful ideas:

–         Each child learns in his own way. And the best, must motivationally rich learning opportunities take into account a child’s unique abilities, interests, and styles.

–         Learning is more effective when fids enjoy what they’re doing and feel passionate about it. Enjoyment—having fun, getting excited and carried away by the process—is a goal as important as any other.

–         Knowledge and thinking skills are greatly enhanced when a child applies his efforts to a real and present problem, a “something” that is personally meaningful and important.

He will grow in the self-confidence and self-knowledge that will propel her into a happy, healthy, successful life.

Pg. 229 Perhaps more than ever, we must bring up children who in time will be committed to making the lives of all people more rewarding, more joyful, environmentally safe, peaceful, and politically free. We need creatively produce productive young people who will become the adults who change things for the better, who make positive contributions to the sciences, arts, and humanities. And so we need to think about what we can provide today for those children who will shape both the values and the actions of this new century.



My Discipline Mistake

Reflecting back, I did a lot of talking instead of modeling. As a logical parent, I thought I could explain the reasoning behind misbehavior & have him realize that his good behavior benefits everyone, including himself.

Well, he is 2 yr.’s old, perhaps I should have demonstrated more & done less talking. It could have saved us lots of timeouts, tears, & sadly occasional spanks. In my quest for a loving & peaceful environment, I never stopped seeking a better method of implementing new behavior strategies and that’s where 1-2-3 magic came in. I modeled it a few times using his toys and it works! No further explanation needed.

I’m grateful for the new found atmosphere in our home & better relationship with my toddler. Thank you God for revealing this book to me.

I got this really neat idea posted below from http://imom.com/parenting/tweens/parenting/training/21-creative-consequences/
#20. When one of my children is acting disrespectful, disobedient, or defiant, I will instruct him or her to choose a chore from the Job Jar. The jobs include scrubbing the toilet, organizing the pots and pans, moving and vacuuming underneath the furniture, weeding the garden, matching up odd socks, defrosting the refrigerator, and cleaning the closet, garage, or under the bed. And those are just a few possibilities. You could add ironing, vacuuming the refrigerator coils, scrubbing the inside of small wastebaskets, polishing the silver, cleaning the window wells, brushing the animals, cleaning the fireplace, shaking the kitchen rugs, vacuuming the couch, alphabetizing the spices, and using wood cleaner on the dining room chairs. Not only does the Job Jar help to get my house clean, but it also keeps my little ones from complaining that they’re bored. They know that with the Job Jar, Mom will always have an antidote for boredom.


Positive Discipline


I’ve been experiencing power struggles, tantrums, crying, and disobedience with my 2 yr old son. So far, I was unsuccessful and did not see lasting/positive results with timeout, rules, yelling, and occasional spanking. Actually, I despise these parenting methods, they go against the very core in which we all are… LOVE!

I’ve read a handful of parenting books the last couple years and am pleasantly surprised with my current reading of “Positive Discipline A-Z” from Jane Nelson. I wish I had it sooner!! Actually I wish I can instantly transform my parenting into all of the 316 pages in her book!

So far, I’ve tried to “Act, Don’t Talk” more & be more kind instead of only firm. I’m trying to avoid “timeout” so we can focus on the underlying issue beneath the “bad” behavior. I plan to incorporate more of her lessons until I’ve managed to form a loving, cooperate home for him to thrive in!

Dr. Jane’s method is all about respect and allowing your child be who he is while providing long-lasting teachable moments. Life skills children can learn. “Positive Discipline is not about punishment or control. Rather it is about instructing, educating, preparing, training, regulating, skill building, and focusing on solutions. Positive Discipline is constructive, encouraging, affirming, helpful, loving, and optimistic.”

 I went ahead and got “Positive Discipline for Preschoolers” and have found it even more resourceful for the age I’m currently dealing with. If your finding yourself in a similar situation of the awful toddlerhood stage then you have to read this book!


How to raise a happy child

“The best predictors of happiness are internal, not external,” says Hallowell, who stresses the importance of helping kids develop a set of inner tools they can rely on throughout life.

Learn to read the signs

Your toddler is probably very good at showing you when something makes him happy or sad. His face lights up in a huge smile when you come home, or he sobs uncontrollably when he can’t find his beloved blankie. But you may still wonder if, overall, he’s content. The signs are usually obvious: A happy child smiles, plays, exhibits curiosity, shows interest in other children, and doesn’t need constant stimulation. Conversely, says Hallowell, the signs of an unhappy child are clear: The child “is withdrawn, quiet, not eating very much, doesn’t spontaneously get involved with other children, doesn’t play, doesn’t ask questions, doesn’t laugh and smile, and has very spare speech.”

If you have a naturally shy or introverted child who doesn’t laugh or interact a lot, that doesn’t mean he’s unhappy. Shyness is not the same as sadness, but you’ll have to work harder to read his signs. Hallowell says to be aware of any major changes in his behavior — becoming more isolated or fearful — that might suggest he’s having problems you should pay attention to.

Paul C. Holinger, professor of psychiatry at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago, has identified nine inborn “signals” that babies use to communicate their feelings. You can recognize these signals in your toddler also. Two of the signals,”interest” and “enjoyment,” are positive feelings, while the negative signals, especially “distress,” “anger,” and “fear,” add up to an unhappy child.

Most parents recognize that a fearful, easily upset child isn’t a happy camper, but Holinger finds that many parents don’t recognize that an angry child is usually expressing sadness. No matter the age, “anger is simply excessive distress,” says Holinger. When your child hits his brother or throws his toys, it means he’s distressed beyond his ability to deal with it.

Your toddler probably has his own ways of showing you when he’s going through a hard time. Some kids may withdraw, some may throw tantrums, and still others may become clingy. As you get to know your own child’s temperament, you’ll become better at learning the signs that something’s not right in his world. For more insights into your child’s natural temperament, check out our article, “Are children born happy?”.

Make room for fun

Although nonstop entertainment and ice cream for dinner may seem like every child’s dream, what actually makes your toddler happiest is much simpler: you. And that’s the first key to creating a happy child says Hallowell. “Connect with them, play with them,” he advises. “If you’re having fun with them, they’re having fun. If you create what I call a ‘connected childhood,’ that is by far the best step to guarantee your child will be happy.”

Play creates joy, but play is also how your child develops skills essential to future happiness. Unstructured play allows her to discover what she loves to do — build towers out of blocks, play hospital with her stuffed animals — which can point her toward a career that will seem like a lifetime of play. Play doesn’t mean music classes, organized sports, and other structured, “enriching” activities. Play is when children invent, create, and daydream.

Help them develop their talents

Hallowell’s prescription for creating lifelong happiness includes a surprising twist: Happy people are often those who have mastered a skill. For example, when your toddler practices throwing a ball to you, he learns from his mistakes, he learns persistence and discipline, and then he experiences the joy of succeeding due to his own efforts.

He also reaps the reward of gaining recognition from others for his accomplishment. Most important, he discovers he has some control over his life: If he tries to do something, he has the satisfaction of finding that, with persistence, he can eventually do it. Research shows that this feeling of control through mastery is an important factor in determining adult happiness.

Hallowell warns that children, like adults, need to follow their own interests, or there’ll be no joy in their successes. Rebecca Marks , a mother of two from Cleveland Heights, Ohio, says that her 3-year-old son Zachary’s number one interest is construction. “He loves to build things and to help his dad build special projects. It makes him feel good about himself. We try to help him focus on what he has a natural talent for, where we can tell he’s really having fun.”

Healthy bodies equal happy children

Lots of sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet are important to everyone’s well-being, especially children’s. Toddlers are natural exercisers: Giving your child plenty of time to run around outside will help her with her moods. And pay attention to your child’s need for structure: While some children are very easygoing, most toddlers thrive and are happier with a set schedule that lets them know what’s coming.

You might also want to pay attention to any connection between your child’s mood and particular foods. Some parents find that while sugar can give their child an energy boost, it can also create mood swings or aggressive behavior. Food allergies and sensitivities may also play a role in your child’s behavior and mood.

Let them struggle with problems

But, you say, I’m supposed to be creating a happy child! Shouldn’t I swoop down and make everything better? In fact, Carrie Masia-Warner, a child psychologist and associate director of the Anxiety and Mood Disorders Institute at the New York University School of Medicine, sees this as a big mistake many loving, well-intentioned parents make.

“Parents try to make it better for their child all the time, to make them happy all the time. That’s not realistic. Don’t always jump in and try to fix it,” advises Masia-Warner. “Children need to learn to tolerate some distress, some unhappiness. Let them struggle, figure out things on their own, because it allows them to learn how to cope.”

Hallowell agrees that allowing children a range of experiences, even the difficult or frustrating ones, helps build the reservoir of inner strength that leads to happiness. Whether a child’s 7 months old and trying to crawl or 7 years old and struggling with subtraction, Hallowell tells parents, he’ll get better at dealing with adversity simply by grappling with it successfully again and again.

This doesn’t mean children shouldn’t ask for help if they need it, but your role is to help them find a solution, not provide it for them. Learning to deal with life’s inevitable frustrations and setbacks is critical to your child’s future happiness.

If your child develops a sense of independence and confidence, it can lead to greater self esteem and happiness. One way to help your toddler develop these qualities is to have him practice playing alone for ten to 15 minutes several times a day.

Allow them to be sad or mad

When your child pouts in a corner during a birthday party, your natural reaction may be to push her to join in the fun. But it’s important to allow her to be unhappy. Hallowell is concerned that “some parents worry any time their children suffer a little rejection, they don’t get invited to the birthday party, or they cry because they didn’t get what they wanted.”

Children need to know that it’s okay to be unhappy sometimes — it’s simply part of life. And if we try to squelch any unhappiness, we may be sending the message that it’s wrong to feel sad. We need to let them experience their feelings, including sadness.

You can encourage your child to label her feelings and express them verbally. Even if your toddler isn’t talking yet, you can show her pictures of faces and ask her which one is feeling the same way she is. Young children will pick up very quickly on “affect” words such as “happy” or “angry.” When they can put words to their emotions, they gain a whole new capacity to recognize and regulate their feelings.

“It’s very scary for a little kid to feel rage and not understand where it’s coming from,” says Rebecca Marks, mother of two from Cleveland Heights, Ohio. When 14-month-old Madeline acts out or hits, Marks says, “I tell her, ‘I know you’re frustrated or mad.’ That way, Madeline learns to identify her feelings, to name her emotions. Then we can teach her to use her words instead of hitting.”

However, Masia-Warner warns, you shouldn’t overreact to your child’s negative feelings. “It’s normal for kids to become oversensitive or clingy or nervous at times because of something in their environment, but it’s not an unhappiness.”

Be a role model

According to Dora Wang, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and mother of 3-year-old Zoe, research shows that you can pass on your temperament to your children — not necessarily through your genes — but through your own behavior and childrearing style.

For better or worse, children pick up on their parents’ moods. Even young babies imitate their parents’ emotional style, which actually activates specific neural pathways. In other words, when you smile, your child smiles and his brain becomes “wired” for smiling. But be genuine— your child will sense if you’re acting. If you make a point of enjoying small things and saying what you’re grateful for, you’ll be a positive role model for your child.

You can help your child see his glass as half full rather than half empty. For example, if it’s too rainy to go to the playground, point out what a great chance it is to bake cookies. Sharon Cohn of West Orange, New Jersey, tells her kids, “Be happy about what you have instead of being sad about what you don’t have.” A wonderful dinnertime ritual might be for each family member — including your toddler — to say what the best part of the day was.

Peggy O’Leary of Montara, California, finds that when she is highly stressed, her two children react immediately. “They silence themselves, they cower.” One time when O’Leary was feeling low, her son August said “Let’s play tag again, like when you were happy.” It made her realize how sensitive he was to her moods. She now makes an effort to show her children a more positive attitude.

But you don’t have to hide your negative emotions, either. You can show your child you’re sad that you broke your favorite vase. And if you add that it means you can now buy a bigger one, you will be teaching your child that sadness is a part of life as well as showing him how to find the silver linings.

However, if you find yourself constantly stressed out or depressed, it’s important to seek help. “Parents who tend to be depressed are often not good at being consistent with their discipline and providing structure, or at providing consistent praise and having fun with their children. All of this can contribute to emotional problems,” says Masia-Warner.

Teach them to do meaningful things

As your toddler gets older, she can be taught how satisfying it can be to help others. Research shows that people who have meaning in their lives feel less depressed. Cohn says that charity and helping others is a big part of their family life. Even young children can benefit from this lesson.

After learning about Hurricane Katrina, Cohn’s 5-year-old daughter, Rebecca, and her classmates collected school supplies and backpacks to donate to the kids who lost their belongings. Even helping out with simple household chores, such as putting her dirty clothes in the hamper, can help your toddler feel that she is making a contribution.


To Spank?? Super Nanny Help!!!

[ Update: June 2010  Timeout is not nearly as effective as quickly distracting him to another activity or offering him choices between two things/activities. From what I’ve gathered timeout is really intended for children over 3 years old. I’ve read “Setting Limits to Your Strong Willed Child” and it suggested that I make my point clear of the behavior I want out of him and then offer choices and/or consequences. Although the book is more useful for older children, I did find it helpful. For example, when Ethan whines, I try to distract to another fun/engaging activity and if that doesn’t work or the circumstance doesn’t allow it, I offer choices. Something I often say is, “Ethan stop whining. Do you want to play outside or have mommy read to you a book?” It has been gradually getting better and I do expect it to improve as he gets older.]

Lately Ethan’s been pushing our buttons big time. We try to be patient and talk things out with him yet he purposely disobeys us and constantly whines. Hopefully this is temporary stage that will soon pass. If it doesn’t…there is always daycare to help keep our sanity (just kidding).

As parents we argue back and forth about spanking. I’ve read several books that stated spanking does more harm than good. There is also the old tradition of what our parents did long ago to discipline us…they spanked us and instilled fear into us so that we wouldn’t disobey.

So today we tried “time-out” on our strong-willed soon to be 2 year old. It didn’t seem succesful as my husband constantly handled him down to try to make him be still, all while he is screaming bloody murder! I bet the neighbors weren’t happy.

I often ask myself what happened? We respect him and listen to him and try to comply to his requests. I don’t understand what went wrong? It’s like if he doesn’t get his way 100% of the time, there is no way I could gently explain to him why not because he won’t hear it. These are the times where I wish he was older so that we could communicate better and have the relationship I know we can. Terrible two’s are here and I’m struggling how to deal with them.

I’ve read through the book “Screamfree Parenting” and wanted to post some notes I’ve found useful. It’s mostly geared towards older children and some things I disagree with  but overall parents just want to raise their children to take responsiblity for their own actions.

– He knows and pursues what he wants in life.

– He gladly seeks counsel from others, but ultimately makes up his own mind.

– He demonstrates integrity, a consistency of his beliefs, desires, words, and actions.

– He holds people accountable for their actions but does not blame others for his own problems.

– He does not let others blames him for their problems.

– He gladly and quickly takes responsiblity for his decisions.

– He welcomes criticism as feedback, but des not automatically accept it as truth.

– He takes care of himself in order to be available to others without needing them to take care of him.

There is also a good section of the book called, “Strategies for Success” on pages 122-124 but I’m too tired to write them out. If you want to read it, you can borrow the book from the library like I did or buy it if you want to.