I’ve tried to keep this list manageable, though there are so many great resources out there it’s hard to contain myself. These books are the among the cream of the crop in their respective areas. They are all readable, packed with insights and practical value, and most based on solid research. Books are listed alphabetically within category so my clients can quickly find titles to which I refer them.
1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12
Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D.
A very useful and thorough introduction to positive discipline. The book describes how to understand typical behaviors and how to manage them, including natural consequences. The title refers to a specific technique of counting as a prelude to consequences that can be extremely effective if used properly.
Helping Your Kids Cope with Divorce the Sandcastles Way
M. Gary Neuman, L.M.H.C.
The bible on how to manage the myriad difficulties of helping children through divorce. Mr Neuman is a licensed counselor, family mediator, and rabbi, who developed a nationally recognized “Sandcastles Program,” on which the book is based. Tons of advice, guidance, practical suggestions and potentially fun child-centric activities to minimize the damage to your kids, including separate chapters for different age ranges and their specific developmental challenges.
How to Handle a Hard-to-Handle Kid
C. Drew Edwards, Ph.D.
A good overview of some of the things that can make kids difficult, and lots of practical ideas about making life easier with and for them.
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk
Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
Another classic, and a must-have for every parent. Essential empathic and emotional-attunement skills presented in a fun, easy format. If you take this to heart it can change your (and your child’s!) life.
Letting Go: A Parents’ Guide to Understanding the College Years, 5th Ed.
Karen Coburn and Madge Treeger
My wife’s bible when our kids left for college, we still refer to this great guide from time to time. The fifth edition of a venerable book by an Assistant Vice Chancellor and a psychotherapist. Eminently digestible, thorough, emotionally centering, and practical.
Parenting From the Inside Out
Daniel Siegel, M.D. and Mary Hartzell, M.Ed.
This is a fantastic book on the same topics as the other parenting books here. It is a bit more theoretical if you are so inclined, and a little broader in scope. At the same time it is full of personal examples from the authors, very clearly written, and hones in on the essential building blocks for your child’s self-esteem.
Pick Up Your Socks…and Other Skills…
Elizabeth Crary, Pati Casebolt
A helpful book concerning responsibilities, chores, and similar issues with kids. Lots of exercises, tips, etc. Includes a useful chart of common household tasks and appropriate age ranges for each of them.
The Pocket Parent
Gail Reichlin & Caronline Winkler
A really nice, compact (maybe not quite pocket-size, but close!), reference book on parenting. As they say, “hundreds of fast answers,” and pretty much everything I’ve looked up I would agree with.
The Primal Teen
There are lots of good books on the topic of the teen brain and developmental changes during those years. This is a very readable one by the medical science and health editor of the New York Times. It gives a nice overview of some of the emerging thoughts and areas of research on this interesting subject. Good stuff for parents of teens to be aware of, and to have more compassion for why your teens may do the crazy things they do.