TODDLERS, man. Right? We get lots of listener emails asking us to tackle this topic on the podcast. While we have discussed discipline and toddlers before (see list of podcast episodes at the end of this post), I wanted to round up some of my favorite books and online resources from parenting writers I’ve been reading for years.
Books About Toddler Discipline & Behavior
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Positive Discipline: The Classic Guide to Helping Children Develop Self-Discipline, Responsibility, Cooperation, and Problem-Solving Skills
This book is 30 years old and the gold standard for the parenting and discipline style that works for me. Other writers I’ll mention in this post all have been schooled in this philosophy. There are spinoff books like Positive Discipline for Preschoolers, etc., but I think reading the original is best. This is the book for starting to explore if this basic foundational philosophy is right for you.
This book has a lot about early childhood education (preschools), but I found it so transformative that I wish I’d read it when my kids were toddlers. Maybe not so much about day to day behavior stuff with your toddler now, but I know that many of you you like to think ahead.
The Case For Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World
I read this book when my oldest was a baby and it really influenced how I think about kids and media. It might read a little dated now, but it’s a quick read, and the material about the commercialization of kids’ play is as important as ever (the media and tech itself has changed so much in the last 10 years, but the concepts hold up). Highly, highly recommend this book.
Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting (The Peaceful Parent Series)
This book is by my hands-down favorite online writer, Dr. Laura Markham. I’ll link to a bunch of her website articles in the next section, but this is the paper book version. I’d put it 4th after the books above, because I think you can get a lot of the same ideas from the articles on her site. If you ever want someone else to understand this type of parenting (husband, caregivers), this would be a great book to read.
Online Resources About Toddlers
This website is a one-stop-shop. Dr. Laura Markham (who is the author of that last book mentioned) is just SO DANG GOOD at explaining the difference between punishment/consequences and setting limits. She also always includes actually ideas for what to SAY to your kids, which is so helpful. I will link to a few places to start:
- This page has a bunch of articles for foundational learning (I would start here)
- This page rounds up a bunch of toddler articles
- Specific questions about toddlers
- The difference between limits and consequences
- How to motivate kids without consequences
- Why is my 3-year-old suddenly so disagreeable?
- Is it time for my 2-year-old to stop using a pacifier, crib and diapers?
- How to help a toddler cope with Mom’s return to work
I have not spent as much time reading Amy McCready’s work, but I know it to be right in line with others mentioned here, and she has a lot of classes and resources for parents who want to learn about positive parenting.
Honestly? I got through the baby and toddler years in part because they’re so hilarious. I love reading parenting humor writers, and there are some gems out there when it comes to toddlers:
- Toddler Feelings Helpline (Sara Given, McSweeney’s)
- The Honest Toddler (Bunmi Laditan)
- Reasons My Kid Is Crying
- The HuffPo Best Parenting Tweets make me giggle each week
The Mom Hour Episodes
Here are the episodes we’ve done that deal with toddlers:
- Things We Shouldn’t Have Freaked Out About (Toddler Years): The Mom Hour, Episode 24
- Potty Training & Other Bathroom Matters: The Mom Hour, Episode 156
- Ignore Bad Behavior & Enjoy Parenting More with Catherine Pearlman: The Mom Hour Voices, Episode 16
- Kids in the Kitchen: The Mom Hour, Episode 70
- Things We Shouldn’t Have Freaked Out About (Starting School Edition): The Mom Hour, Episode 62
- 8 Milestones & When Our Kids Met Them: The Mom Hour, Episode 34
- Discipline At Every Age: The Home Hour Episode 40 (a really old episode of The Home Hour when I joined Meagan as a guest)
- Gift Ideas For Babies, Toddlers & Little Kids
I think if I have one thing to encourage you to remember, it’s that “positive” parenting is not the same as “permissive” parenting. It doesn’t mean letting your kids get away with stuff or telling them all the time that they’re amazing. It’s actually really structured and emphasizes setting limits, but there’s a misconception out there when you say things like “we don’t do time outs” that it’s all permissive all the time. Not true.
As we always say on the podcast, there is no one right way to do any of this. My recommendations here are simply the ones that have worked for me. You do you!