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Parenting Book Recommendations: Education, Emotional and In General

Here is the list of what I would read if I had known about them before I had Little Bun. There are a lot of parenting and educational books out there, but I found these ones the most helpful to help me try to raise a happy, well-adjusted, wonderful child. So far, it looks like it is working but who knows until he becomes an adult.

At any rate this is what I found very helpful:

How to talk so that kids will listen

This is probably one of the better parenting books I have read in the sense that it also teaches you the adult, emotional maturity. It teaches you your reactions to your child, triggers reactions in them. Imagine if you were at work and someone said things rudely or dismissively to you, rather than being professional about it – you’d be hurt right? Same goes for your kids. Treat them with professionalism and empathy, and it does got a long way. The only caveat is to not treat them with condescension, as kids can sniff out insincerity. I have been using some of the methods on Little Bun.

Example: I wanted to not have to constantly remind him that towels and cutlery have to be wiped. I tell him once, he should remember.

The process is to solution out what to do so we can come to a compromise that works:

Me: You could write it down on a To Do list.

Little Bun: I could have you remind me each time.

Me: That’s what I am trying to avoid! Haha…

Little Bun: Oh right.

Little Bun: I could do it immediately.

Me: Good idea, but what if you were in the middle of something? You cannot do it immediately, and then after a while you may forget. What would be another solution to this?

Little Bun: We could have a set time of the day when everything should be done, and just before dinner, like at 17:00 where you tell me what has to get done – cutlery or laundry – and I do it then because I have the free time!

Me: I like that, let’s try it out and see.

Another example of the proposed method is to simply acknowledge things without judgement. So the other day, I saw that Little Bun was trying to tell something to his father but he was so upset he was losing his language.

I took him aside and I look at him, all red-faced and crying, while my partner is getting agitated that he is getting angry (this is a sign of having grown up with emotionally immature parents, by the way.. I suffer from that too), and I do this:

Me: It looks like you are really upset about what just happened.

Little Bun: YEAH *sob*

Me: It looks to me like you were unable to find your words to explain to Daddy what you wanted to express.

Little Bun: YES.

Me: It looks like you were getting frustrated because you were trying to find your words, and that made you even more frustrated.

Little Bun: YES. *sobbing stops*

Other non-judgemental methods are to do things like simply to say what you see: “I see a laundry basket on the floor.”, rather than saying: “You did the laundry then left the basket out AGAIN. How could you be so thoughtless! I have to keep reminding you!”

Over time, the kids, without judgement heaped on them, will eventually develop the habit of doing what you want them to do, like turn off the lights, put socks in the laundry basket, etc.

Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents

This is not a parenting book per se, but what I picked up in here helped me be a better parent. I definitely grew up with emotionally immature parents (I mean.. it is rare to find parents who aren’t like this, frankly), and a lot of how I react to Little Bun is tied to the way I was treated when I grew up. To break that cycle, I needed to first work on myself. This book goes over the different types of parents that can cause blockages in parenting such as the Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents. It truly is a book worth reading, to gain perspective on yourself, and others around you, based on how they have grown up, and how they react today.

For instance, I and my partner both grew up with emotionally immature parents, so when Little Bun gets upset, we are unable to react to him in any positive, calming manner because we get upset that he is upset, as we are SCARED of the emotion of anger and frustration which is a normal thing. As we are scared, we react in fear, which is anger, and anger meeting anger, helps no one. The child gets angrier, that they feel like you are now angry at them for something they are themselves, scared or upset about, and that just escalates things, or teaches children to bottle up their negative, not-nice emotions, which turns into another trauma in adults, which is being unable to express themselves and to feel heard without being judged. All of this is tricky, complicated stuff, and I myself am still working on not getting upset when Little Bun is upset, I visibly have to remind myself to accept his anger and frustration as normal, and hold myself back from instinctively reacting with anger, based on his natural and healthy emotions of anger.

Hold on to your kids

This book was a relief for me. I obviously, am parenting a child who “started” school during the pandemic. I had not planned at all to homeschool and was sort of forced into it out of necessity, and while I am grateful I am able to do so as my job allows me such flexibility, I had a lot of guilt and stress over him not having any social interactions with peers, and missing out on ALL OF THIS. I was crying on and off during the past 2 years, just feeling the massive guilt at having failed him as a parent to give him a well rounded, incredible childhood full of all the things I experienced when I went to school and had to stand up for myself, make new friends, and so on. It is much easier as a child to make friends than as you get older and see cliques form, so I felt like he was missing out on how to do this important life skill of getting along with other peers.

After I read this book, I relaxed a lot. I am still unhappy he isn’t making friends and finding people he clicks with, but I am released of the guilt that he is too close to us to where we are his entire world and that being a bad thing. This book basically goes through why parents NEED to be the compass for children and not their peers, as parents (generally) only want the best for their children unconditionally. No matter what happens, we have them in our mind and hearts as the MOST IMPORTANT, and peers do not generally have this because they are looking out for themselves and may not give the best advice or direction in the interest of their own children.

Having children look to you as their main sounding board, is also not a bad thing because you are not their friend (another misconception I had), but you are their parent, who loves them 100%. I do not need to agree or buddy up with Little Bun on things I do not like, and he will do things I will not approve of, but being his compass means I am not telling him I agree all the time. Having a strong family tie also helps ward off children who do not have his best interest in mind, as they will see that he trusts us and our judgment more than theirs and cannot be easily manipulated to do things he should not, or has a little voice (us) at the back of our heads asking him to think about it first.

Having peers replace parents, is not the goal of friends. That is where I got confused, because I felt like I mixed up both, but really, peers are there to be peers and friends, but not the ones who parent the children – that’s my job.

The Whole Brain Child

This applies more to younger children and is an excellent book on how to treat children with respect. It is so important that you understand that their world, concerns, fears, and so on, no matter how small or not-a-big-deal it is, is actually a very big deal for them. It also affects their brain development. I wish I had read this sooner when he was a tiny baby, although with sleep deprivation it is very hard to be this kind of parent when your patience and will is the size of a lime, sometimes. Or a peanut.

No Drama Discipline

Teaching yourself how to take care and discipline children without yelling at them, is something I really had to learn. This helped me a lot. I wish I had read it MUCH sooner. I was reacting to my baby getting angry without trying to stay calm (very hard) to acknowledge his anger and find the right words to show him I understood. It is much easier now to talk and reason to Little Bun (around age 5 and older), but I did need this when he was a toddler.

Bringing up Bébé

Take this book with a big grain of salt. Yes, I am with someone from France, so he definitely has the same principles outlined in the book, though not told in such a clear way. There are a few things that have worked for us – we do not have a picky eater as a result because we simply expect him to eat what is in front of him, we have zero tolerance on creating new meals for him if he doesn’t want to eat what is there. We tell him: Eat this, or starve. We are half-joking about the starving, but also very serious because children will not let themselves starve. Instinctively if you are faced with a bowl of vegetable stew and not eating, you will eat that stew. And we also don’t keep snacks or let him fill up on anything in between meals, except for in the afternoon where he gets a small snack of fruit smoothie or yoghurt. He doesn’t have free rein on the fridge to just drink or eat anything he wants, any time he wants, and so far this has worked out for us. He wants to try all the food we have, and I have told him to try it 7 times before rejecting it 100%. No judgement if he doesn’t want any more, but he should taste it and see. And repeat later, and see.

Aside from that, we are pretty big on a lot of other things – independence, being aware of yourself, and so on. Just be careful to not accept this as gospel. Even French kids turn out to be brats. LOL.

Raising Boys

Counterpart:

Raising Girls

Take a small grain of salt with this as well, but I found it helpful to understand how boys develop. It does seem to line up with what I have seen – that boys need to develop their own sense of self once they turn pre-teen or so, which can cause changes in them from when they were your sweet little boy, to trying to learn how to be a man. The role model of course, would be the father, or a male figure in their life (cousin, uncle, family friend), and it is important that you let them go to do make this transition. I also found it helpful to anticipate that around age 6-8 he would start looking at his father to be his role model in the way he acts, and I am seeing that play out in life. He still is very much attached to me, as I am the main parent for him, but I can see him exploring what it means to be a boy, and a man in his thoughts and his actions.

Grit

This is not a “parenting” book, but it definitely helped me show how people succeed, and therefore, how children succeed. It is not their “intelligence” (also learned), but that they are able to persevere. It is quite interesting and helpful so that I can structure my own speech around helping Little Bun be a well-rounded, successful person who thinks – I can figure this out, and I will do it. Just the other day, he said to me offhandedly: Mommy, I am really good at finding solutions to things and figuring things out. It means it is working, all of this speaking and helping I have been trying, has been sinking in!!!

The smartest kids in the world

This was a good book to read as a general overview of children and how they grew up around the world. I picked up a few things from this book, such as allowing children to just pursue whatever interests them, and give them as much support as possible to encourage them. We did this with Little Bun when he was a tiny baby, and let him play on a calculator, and showed him how fascinating numbers could be. He also expressed and interest in astronomy, so we learned about space, and downloaded apps about the universe and stars. Whatever he expresses an interest in, we pursue it until he continues on his own, or drops off and finds something else. The point for me, was to keep him curious and interested.

Cleverlands: The Secrets Behind the Success of the World’s Education Superpowers

I really enjoyed this book because she traveled around the world to pick apart the educational systems, to understand how children in countries like China, achieve such high scores across the board. It is interesting because it shows the pros and cons of each approach, and while I would not expect Little Bun to be top of his class in everything, I appreciated the insight into how they got kids motivated and interested in their education.

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