They say the first child can be challenging because you have no clue what to do. No matter how much advice you receive from your friends having kids or how prepared you think you are, the truth is every situation will surprise you. Then, it gets easier, they say.

But just because we know what to do in certain situations, it doesn’t always mean we’re doing the right thing. In fact, I’m not surprised with this idea if you look at kids around, yelling at parents, doing whatever they want and acting like bullies.

I’m definitely observing a problem. It’s not the kids’ fault, but the parents’. And if kids grow like this, chances are the next generation will be just as problematic.

With this thought in mind, if you're about to be a parent or you already are, here are some good parenting books on child psychology.

Even if you think you’ve got it all under control, trust me, these books will open your eyes.

What Are The Most Helpful Parenting Books?

From Surviving To Thriving, by Devina King (2024)

There are quite a few parenting books out there, but the problem is some of them are outdated. Kids today grow in a different age, so old school techniques may no longer be valid today. This book, in particular, stands out because it brings in a few perspectives.

Let me start with the basics. The author has a degree in psychology, is an occupational therapist, and a certified autism and ADHD specialist. She’s also the mother of a kid with extreme issues and bipolar disorder. To me, that only means one thing. She clearly knows what she’s talking about.

This book has been written for parents, therapists, teachers, you name it, anyone who deals with children. It's about understanding how behaviors work, becoming familiar with expectations, and finding solutions without losing it.

It's nicely split into more chapters based on your kid's age. To me, it came at a perfect time, having my second baby on the way. It's still too early to apply anything, but I’m getting ready for it.

From seeing beyond behaviors and understanding crises to addressing medical roots and creating a harmonious environment for kids, this isn't just an educational book but a masterpiece in child psychology.

You'll also learn how to adapt to certain situations and make the most out of everything. All these are for both yourself and your little one. If there's one book I would recommend from the bottom of my heart to every new or upcoming parent out there, this is the best title. It will change your perception of everything.

Child Psychology and Development For Dummies, by Laura L. Smith (2011)

I’m a big fan of these books for dummies and although I know they don’t go in the smallest details, they offer some valuable insights that will put you on track. This is one of those parenting books teaching you the basics and giving you the training to be a parent.

Once you master the basics, you can easily adapt to whatever situations you're facing. So basically, it does help, but it requires a bit of work from you, too. Nearly 400 pages, so there's an answer for pretty much anything you have in mind.

Anyway, the guide explains why kids behave the way they do. You'll understand their vision, what they think about, and what they hope to achieve.

Knowing the root of a potential problem can help you find a solution much quicker, only for you to bring out the best in your little one.

Now, I know most parents don't want to hear this, but only in the USA over 10% of all kids are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder. And if you think about it, many kids aren't even diagnosed because their parents don't see an issue.

Psychiatric issues are more diversified than ever, but there are countless discoveries as well.

I like this book because it offers an insight into what cognitive development means at multiple stages in kids’ lives, so you can basically compare and understand when you might need a specialist.

You'll learn how to identify disorders, what to do to make sure your kid grows in a safe manner, and how to control impulses while developing self esteem. Sounds great, doesn't it?

The Anxious Generation, by Jonathan Haidt (2024)

Not all the books I’ll mention here are about kids or suitable for new parents. This one, in particular, has helped me with my first kid, especially since she was in her teen years. Child psychology isn't all about toddlers but also about young teens.

When considering the mental health of teenagers in recent years, there is a noticeable and concerning trend of increasing instances of depression, anxiety, and suicide attempts.

Written by a social psychologist, this book underlays the causes of this epidemic of mental illness among children. He also explains what childhood means, defining the connection between a healthy childhood and a thriving life as an adult.

The author shows how the outdoor play based childhood has started losing popularity throughout the 1980s and 1990s. It evolved so much that it can be referred to as a phone based childhood now. It rewrote everything from a social point of view.

But the book isn’t all about understanding what’s going on. I’ve also found useful solutions on how to tackle the problem, by far one of the most conclusive parenting books out there.

Anger Management Games for Children, by Deborah Plummer (2008)

I’ve recommended this book to quite a few of my friends, noticing their kids showing a bit of aggression. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not bad kids, but they can’t seem to have any patience. They go mad about anything, anytime, if it doesn’t happen now.

Anger is quite an issue and may have many causes. I’ve noticed it’s often related to the lack of patience, but this book has shown me there’s much more than that.

Anyway, this book on child psychology won’t necessarily put you in an expert’s shoes, but you’ll gain access to a bunch of games. They’re easy to implement and offer a safe and friendly environment for your little one. It’s mainly aimed at kids five to 12 years old.

Each game has a theory behind its concept. Don't worry about it, you don't need any experience, as everything is clearly explained in it. Some activities are passive; others are active. There are verbal games, as well as quiet games. You can have them with your kid or in a small group.

I believe such a resource is extremely valuable to anyone working with kids who have anger issues, from parents to teachers.

Raising Good Humans, by Hunter Clarke-Fields  and Carla Naumburg (2019)

The future depends on current generations. And with each new generation, a new layer is grown. I strongly believe in this and that’s why I think we need to pay more attention to our kids, rather than just let them dive into their tablets and phones all day long.

Hunter Clarke-Fields has written a book filled with practical solutions to get rid of classic, old-fashioned, ineffective, and reactive parenting habits. Instead, you'll learn how to raise more confident children in the long run.

It makes no difference why you struggle with your little one. Maybe they hate school or perhaps they don’t like veggies. Maybe your little one is used to cry whenever they can’t get what they ask for. Either way, being a parent can be a challenge and unfortunately, many parents react without thinking about it.

Sadly enough, consequences can be a problem in the future, especially when results aren’t taken into consideration.

That’s when this book kicks in, one of the most detailed parenting books out there in my opinion. You’ll learn how to develop new skills, how to respond to emotions, how to calm your own stress and do it in an effective way for your kid’s growth.

Break the cycle today and reply to your children in a more skillful manner.

The Self-Driven Child, by William Stixrud and Ned Johnson (2019)

I don't think it matters how good you think you are with kids. This book has some valuable insights for any parent out there. And it's not necessarily about us, but mainly about how to raise our children, give them more control over their lives and enhance their future.

The book is written from a personal perspective. With years of experience in child psychology, both authors noticed more kids complained about lacking control. Even the high performing ones had the same issue. In other words, their problems were related to their parents.

Giving kids more control is often the best antidote. It doesn't mean you should lose your authority, though. I know, to a lot of people, it feels like it's black and white. You can't have it in the middle. Well, this book taught me there is, indeed, a middle field where parents and kids can meet.

This book is based on science, therapy, and case studies. It's based on hundreds of kids the authors have dealt with over the past years. And the best part is it makes everything super simple. No matter how hard you think it is, keep in mind that your kids will also have to take the wheel and build their own lives.

This book has taught me that you can introduce them to your values while still giving them control. There are plenty of things you can do before they become independent, and your guidance can change their lives.

The Explosive Child, by Ross W Greene (2021)

I think we all know someone who's got an explosive child, the type of child who takes everything to extreme limits and only responds by kicking, hitting, screaming, or crying, among many others.

Luckily for me, I haven’t had this problem, but if you struggle with your little one, this is one of the best parenting books for you. I’ve read this book for one of my best friends, only to be able to support her when she ends up crying in frustration.

The problem is many of these parents have already tried everything, from punishing their kids to trying to explain everything. The author has specialized in working with such kids, whether their issues are behavioral, social, or emotional.

This book helps parents understand their difficulties, which aren't necessarily about seeking attention. Based on the situation, they could be related to frustration, lack of tolerance, or poor flexibility, among other causes. Apart from these detailed analyses, the book also offers effective solutions.

Final Thoughts on Parenting Books

These are probably the best parenting books I’ve been through, whether I struggled with something in particular or I just wanted to learn more about child psychology. I believe any parent should give them a try, some of them feature some eye opening solutions you won’t find anywhere else.

Check out also our favorite books for first time dads!

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