1. The Whole Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind
I’ve been a fan of neuropsychiatrist Dr. Daniel Siegel for many years, and have read almost every book he’s written about the brain, child development, relationships, and parenting. He is able to take complex concepts and present them in ways that make them practically useful in people’s lives. This book, one of several he has written with psychologist Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, contains information and strategies that help parents manage many of the most frustrating behavioral and emotional issues that kids experience. The tools in this book allow parents to keep their cool while supporting kids to feel happier, more resilient, and better connected to adults and peers.
How to face tantrums and meltdowns
The authors present the science behind how and why children think and act the way they do, including the many challenging behaviors children exhibit. The 12 strategies outlined in the book provide specific guidance and examples for how best to support children around issues such as tantrums and meltdowns, becoming stuck on negative emotions, and being rigid or inflexible. While the content is geared toward all children, parents of children with developmental and/or mental health challenges will find them invaluable. If you like having simple concrete tools and ideas to help your child, with examples of how to implement in real life situations, then this book is for you.
I recommend this book to many parents at my clinic, the accompanying resources are helpful too. There is a workbook for parents and professionals that help take the concepts from the book and move them into action. If you are a professional this book can be a great tool for parenting groups.
2. Lost at School: Why Our Kids with Behavioral Challenges are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help Them
I’ve read many books over the years about supporting students with emotional and behavioral disorders in school settings, and this one is hands down one of the most important books on the topic. In my opinion, Lost at School should be required reading for every educator and adult working in any type of school environment. Dr. Ross Greene, a child psychologist known for developing the Collaborative Problem Solving approach for children with emotional and behavioral challenges, lays out the many reasons why traditional ways of dealing with “discipline” in schools are failing kids across the board. He emphasizes what many of my educator colleagues have known – punishing kids in order to get them to behave better doesn’t work!
You’ll learn how to stay calm and even prevent behavioral issues
Dr. Greene’s core philosophy is “kids do well if they can”. If this way of thinking was adopted by everyone in schools from administrators, to classroom teachers, to aides and bus drivers it would go a long way to resolving many of the significant behavioral challenges in schools. Children with chronic emotional and behavior issues (whether they are identified as special needs or not) need adults to understand the root causes of their rigid, defiant, maladaptive behavior so that they can teach the emotional regulation and problem-solving skills needed for real improvement.
This book lays out a clear plan for how to identify and teach the skills that students of all ages need for behavioral, social, and academic success at school. Each chapter contains numerous examples that show how to implement the strategies in real situations with kids. You will learn how to proactively identify issues and head them off before behaviors even begin, how to stay calm and support kids through intense emotional and behavioral episodes, and how to talk to kids about issues after the fact.
If you are a professional working in K-12 schools (regular or special education) you will absolutely benefit from this book. Parents of children with emotional and behavioral challenges will also find the concepts and strategies very helpful as they seek to advocate for their kids in the school environment. (Note: Dr. Greene’s first book The Explosive Child is also excellent and is specifically geared towards parents.)
3. Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple
For those of you on the look-out for healthy, yummy, family-friendly recipes I highly recommend Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple. Danielle has a wonderful blog filled with information and recipes on a grain-free lifestyle, and her personal story of healing from severe autoimmune disease using dietary changes is inspirational and well worth the read. Ever since making diet changes for herself, she has been creating recipes for herself, her family, and her readers.
All of the recipes in this book are gluten-free, dairy free, and grain-free. For those of you with children avoiding gluten and dairy, or who require Paleo-type diets, this collection of recipes is a must-have. Some of my favorites include the Slow Cooker Thai Beef Stew, Real Deal Chocolate Chip Cookies (also nut-free), and Pepperoni Pizza Pasta. Kids and adults love these meals, and she helps us save time by including an 8-week menu planner, shopping lists, and cooking tips. I love that Danielle focuses on keeping things as simple and quick as possible, and there are many recipes you can make in the crock-pot or Instant Pot. You know a cookbook on Amazon with well over 1,000 5-star reviews and ratings has to be good! If you’d like to get a sense of what her recipes are like you can check them out on her blog. I hope your kids enjoy these recipes as much as mine do!
Are there any books that have been a major game-changer in your life a parent or practitioner? Please share with us in the comments below.