Child behaviour & discipline techniques that work: 7 top books for parents

Need to help your child overcome behaviour problems, but not sure where to start? If your children are defiant, throw tantrums or display aggression at home, preschool and school, this list of recommended books, compiled by psychologists and teachers in Sydney’ northern beaches, could help you to discover discipline strategies that work for your kids.

Behaviour management tips for parents

Managing children’s behaviour is an ongoing challenging for parents.

Defiant children and those with behaviour problems like aggression are just as tricky as a toddler who throws tantrums.

Kids First’s psychologists and teachers are often asked to recommend books and other resources that mums and dads can use to improve their parenting skills and teach their children a positive approach to behaviour.

Here are 7 of our most recommended books for parents:

1.123 Magic – Thomas W Phelan

1-2-3 Magic aims to teach you how to deal with your children’s difficult behaviour by using an easy-to-learn and easy-to-use signalling system. The signalling system (counting 1-2-3) requires you to use less talk and less emotion, which in turn encourages the development of your child’s ability to manage their emotional reactions more easily. 123 Magic is available as a series of books and DVDs, as well as 3 part workshops which are run regularly around Australia

2.No Drama Discipline – Dr Dan Siegal and Tina Bryson

This book offers very simple and clear explanations, practical advice, and cartoons to give you “how-to” discipline guidance. It’s a terrific resource if you are trying to navigate your child’s meltdowns and misunderstandings. It explains how your children’s brains work, what drives their sometimes frustrating and puzzling behaviour and provides tips about how to get kids to cooperate.

3.Discipline without distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery  – Judy Arnall

This easy to read book really does contain loads of practical strategies that work! It suggests ‘in-the-moment’ responses that kids of all ages, from toddlers to teenagers, will respond to.

4.How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk  – Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.

This book offers helpful ideas on how to mirror and manage your child’s emotions, while being clear about your own needs. It also offers practical tools to try at home with your child.

5.Democratic Parenting for kids aged 1-12: Evolving beyond authoritarian and permissive parenting  – Blaise T. Ryan.

This book is a little contentious. Its premise is that children are inherently good and with guidance (and without punishment or rewards)can realise their potential. It emphasises building trust and respect, and could be helpful if you really want to think about the basis of your parenting and are up for a challenge to some of our conventional ideas about parenting.

6.The Incredible Years: a trouble shooting guide for parents of children aged 3-8 – Caroline Webster-Stratton.

This book is part of a very successful parenting programme offered in the U.S and U.K. It will provides clear tools for managing behaviour, including play, praise and distraction. It uses time out as a strategy, so may not be suited for every family.

7.Parenting from the Inside Out – Dr Dan Siegal & Mary Hartzell

This book is referred to in the 123 Magic program and explains how interpersonal relationships directly impact the development of your child’s brain. It offer you a step-by-step approach to forming a deeper understanding of your own life story and encourages you to consider how your own upbringing might be affecting your parenting. The focus of this book is on suggesting strategies to help you raise compassionate and resilient children.

Concerned about your child’s behaviour?

If your family needs to help to find positive ways to support your child’s behaviour, contact Kids First’s child psychologists.

With years of experience working with children and families at home, preschool and school, we can provide objective advice and behaviour management strategies that could make life easier for you and your child.

Kids First Children’s Services is located in Sydney’s northern beaches.

To make an appointment with one of our children’s health professionals, contact us on (02) 9938 4519

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