Peaceful parenting is an approach which emphasizes gentle and respectful ways of relating to babies, children and teens.
In some ways it's a bit new, although there have always been parents who have parented this way, simply because it made sense to them and they had probably been parented this way themselves.
For others who grew up with an approach that emphasized control, discipline and punishment, as most of us did, this is definitely new.
In a nutshell, peaceful parenting is based on our relatively new knowledge about the emotional needs of babies and children at all stages of their development.
It recognises that children "misbehave" because they have unmet needs and that by meeting these needs, we help them feel secure. This security enables our children to learn what they need to know. Peaceful parenting also emphasizes the need for parents to be aware of and care for their own emotional needs so that they are in a position to calmly connect with and care for their children.
Now if this all sounds a bit strange, you might like to give it a try
by reading one or more of the books reviewed on this page. I came late
to peaceful parenting but here's the thing: it works. It really, really
The books on this page are truly brilliant and very
practical. I've read and re-read them all and truly cannot recommend
them highly enough. They changed my relationships with my children and I use the knowledge I gained from reading them every day in my relationships with my primary school students.
1. Unconditional Parenting
Most parenting books start with the question "How can we get kids to do what they're told?" In other words, they're all about control. Alfie Kohn starts by asking "What do kids need - and how can we meet these needs?" This book isn't about giving kids everything they want in a material sense but about meeting the emotional needs we're born with. Doing this means children grow up strong and confident and able to meet the challenges life throws at them. A brilliant, eye-opening book and a great place to start the parenting journey.
2. The Conscious Parent
This is a wonderful book about shifting away from the traditional parent-to-child "know it all" approach towards a mutual parent-with-child relationship. It's about getting to know ourselves so we can allow our children to be themselves, letting go of the problems and negative habits of thinking and behaving we have developed over the years so that we and our children are free to be the wonderful people we were born to be. If that all sounds a bit airy-fairy, I can only suggest you read the book. Like the other books on this page, it was life-changing for me.
3. Parenting for a Peaceful World
This book was recommended to me by my wonderful GP. It delves into the sociological and anthropological aspects of parenting through the ages, with the view that parenting practices shape the world we live in and the choices we make for our children. Our parenting therefore affects not only our children, their lives and our relationships with them but also the society in which we live. This book is not a parenting manual but it does provide loads of thought-provoking ideas about the implications of different parenting styles.
4. Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids
This book is based on the latest research on brain development which shows that fostering emotional connections with children creates real and lasting change. The book is basically about parenting with empathy and clear communication with the aim of raising happy, self-disciplined children. It contains practical advice that I've found really, really works and feels good, without the yelling and bad feelings. This is truly an amazing book. It's also very easy to read and very practical.
5. Parenting from the Inside Out
This book, like "The Conscious Parent", explores the extent to which our childhood experiences shape the way we parent. It looks at new findings in neuro-biology and attachment research which reveal how our relationships directly impact the development of the brain and offers parents some very practical guidelines on how to raise compassionate and resilient children. Essentially, this book focuses on how we can understand ourselves and our children, what motivates us and what we need from our relationships.
6. Playful Parenting
Like the other books on this page, this book was truly life-changing for me and I recommend it for all parents. I didn't read it 'til my children were teenagers and I wish I'd found it earlier but it still helped our family enormously. Again, it's a really practical book, with loads of things you can do immediately to improve your relationship with your kiddoes, whatever their ages. In essence, the book's about how through play we join our kids in "their" world and how, by playing with them on their terms, we can build strong, close bonds.
7. How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children
This is a simple, easy-to-follow book about how parents can communicate respectfully with their children. The book is based on the fact that children (all of us, really) have five critical needs: to feel respected, important, accepted, included and secure. How we communicate with our children and how we go about meeting these needs impacts their emotional well-being, our own emotional well-being and the well-being of our families. This book contains practical strategies and I found it hugely helpful on my parenting journey with my three children.
8. The Whole-Brain Child
In this book, neuroscientist Daniel Siegel and parenting expert Tina Payne Bryson explain the new science of how a child's brain is wired and how it matures. The idea is that, by understanding how the different parts of a child's brain develop, parents can turn any outburst, argument or fear into a chance to integrate the child's brain so the child becomes calmer and happier. This book contains specific strategies which aim to help parents raise their children to lead balanced, meaningful and connected lives.