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Parenting Resources

What is the basis for good parenting? Communication!

Good communication builds a strong bridge between you and your children. Find out how to communicate effectively with children in different stages of development—from birth through age 18.  

Where can I find some quick tools for better parenting?

What is discipline?  How do I guide my child?
Discipline and punishment are not the same things.  Discipline is actually a kind of teaching.  To learn more about discipline, check out some of these useful web pages and books:

What is temperament?
Temperament is your child's unique style of interacting and of coping with challenges. Right from birth, some children are calm by nature; some are more reactive. Some children handle stress without any trouble; others are easily upset. Often it’s just their temperament—not caused by parenting. But parents can help '’balance” their child's nature.  When you understand your child’s temperament, you can help them improve their coping abilities and reach their potential. Find out more:

  • Parenting Corner Q&A:  Temperament—from the American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Understanding your child’s temperament
  • Frequently asked questions about temperament
  • Check out this book:  Raising Your Spirited Child, by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.  Support and proven strategies for frustrated parents of “difficult” or “strong-willed” kids.
  • Although the following two books are targeted to kids with challenging temperaments, the lessons within are applicable to every child, even those with the easiest temperaments:
    • The Difficult Child, by Stanley Turecki. 
    • The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children, by Ross Greene. 

How can I help my child develop healthy self-esteem?

How can I help my child learn?

What should we do when we disagree about how to raise our child?
How to raise their kids is one of the main topics couples argue about.  Don’t fight about child-rearing disagreements in front of your kids.  It’s important for your children to see you as a team working together.  Consistency in discipline is very important.

What should I do if my baby just won’t seem to stop crying?

What should I do when I’m at the end of my rope?  What should I do if I’m afraid I’ll hurt my child?  How can I cope better with the stresses of being a parent?
Asking for help when you need it is a sign of strength.  Take a few deep breaths, make sure your child is safe, and give yourself a time-out to cool down.  Call a supportive friend or relative and vent.  See if a neighbor can have your child over for a while to give you a break. 

  • 10 tips for coping with stress
  • Care for yourself
  • Parents Anonymous has local groups that teach parenting and coping skills, and offer support and kids programs.  You can also find your local help line through their website.
  • Call the free Parent Helpline at 1-800-942-4357.  They will not ask your name, and can offer helpful support and guidance.
  • Take a look at Behavior Problems on YourChild for more information and resources on parenting challenging kids, and changing behavior for the better.
  • When you’ve had a chance to regroup, pick up some new parenting tools by reading one of the books recommended on this page.
  • Finally, when everyone has cooled down, help manage anger through family meetings.

What are some more sources of information and support for parents?
Check out these related topics on YourChild:

 More information and organizations that support parents:

  • Zero to Three has information for parents on their kids in the first 3 years of life.
  • The WonderWise Parent is a site about parenting and parent-child relationships. Becoming WonderWise means being open to learning about the humanity of children--what they bring into the world and how they grow.
  • Parents Anonymous has local groups that teach parenting and coping skills, and offer support and kids programs.  You can also find your local help line through their website.
  • Mr. Roger’s topics and materials for parents.
  • The Children's Defense Fund's mission is to leave no child behind and to ensure every child a “Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, and a Moral Start” in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.
  • KidsHealth has articles for parents, kids, and teens on growing up, emotions, behavior, and more.
  • Connect for Kids is a source of information for adults who want to make their communities better places for kids.  
  • 4Parents.gov is a public education campaign from the US Department of Health and Human Services with information for parents and teens about how talk with each other about making healthy choices.
  • The Center for Effective Parenting has good handouts on a variety of parenting topics.  Para folletos en Espanol, seleccione aqui.

What are some of the best books about parenting? parents swinging toddler

  • Touchpoints, by T. Berry Brazelton.  Covers the first 5 years of life by developmental stages, and gives practical advice and insight into the inner life of your child.
  • Your Baby and Child: From Birth to Age Five, by Penelope Leach.  Practical advice, and an even-handed, good-sense approach.  Lots of helpful illustrations.
  • The Magic Years : Understanding and Handling the Problems of Early Childhood, by Selma H. Fraiberg.  About 40 years old, yet still offers a wonderful way of looking at how kids think, and why they act the way they do based on their cognitive and emotional abilities.  This book will help you understand that your baby is not driving you nuts just for fun!
  • The Irreducible Needs of Children: What Every Child Must Have to Grow, Learn, and Flourish, by T. Berry Brazelton, and Stanley Greenspan.  What do babies and young children really need?  The authors, both famed advocates for children, lay out the seven irreducible needs of any child, in any society, and confront such thorny questions as: How much time do children need one-on-one with a parent? What is the effect of shifting caregivers, of custody arrangements? Why are we knowingly letting children fail in school?  This short book is a must-read for anyone who cares about the welfare of children, parents and policy-makers alike.
  • Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, by Benjamin Spock and Stephen J. Parker.  Generations of parents have relied on this book.  The new edition is updated and expanded to meet the changes and challenges of the next century. It contains new material that covers all phases of child development from birth through adolescence. 
  • Parent Effectiveness Training : The Proven Program for Raising Responsible Children, by Thomas Gordon.  P.E.T., or Parent Effectiveness Training, began about forty years ago as the first national parent-training program to teach parents how to communicate better with kids and offer step-by-step advice to resolving family conflicts so everybody wins. Whether you have a toddler striking out for independence or a teenager who has already started rebelling, you'll find P.E.T. a compassionate, effective way to instill responsibility and create a nurturing family environment in which your child will thrive.
  • What to Expect the First Year, and What to Expect: the Toddler Years, by Arlene Eisenberg, et al.  These books are popular and handy for busy parents.
  • Encounters with Children:  Pediatric Behavior and Development, by Suzanne Dixon and Martin Stein.  Gives a detailed look at child development and behavior.  It is written for healthcare providers, but will help parents better understand their child’s development and behavior.
  • Raising a Thinking Child:  Help Your Young Child to Resolve Everyday Conflicts and Get Along With Others:  The ‘I Can Problem Solve’ Program, by Myrna B. Shure et al.  Help your child learn to resolve conflicts and get along with others.
  • How to Parent, by Fitzhugh Dodson.  Aimed more at the first 5 years, but contains principles of parenting that apply throughout childhood.  (Fitzhugh Dodson is not to be confused with James DobsonJames Dobson has written books in favor of physical punishment, which has been proven by research not to improve behavior.)
  • Caring for Your School-Age Child, edited by the American Academy of Pediatrics.  It’s easy to think your job is done and the schools will take over, but your child still needs your guidance and parenting skills to bridge into adolescence.
  • Caring for Your Adolescent, from the American Academy of Pediatrics.  The first half talks about stages of teen development and the second part covers problems that may happen during the teen years.
  • Siblings Without Rivalry, by Faber and Mazlish.  The best book on how to handle sibling relationships, and family dynamics.
  • The What’s Happening to My Body? Book for Boys: A Growing Up Guide for Parents and Sons, and The What’s Happening to My Body? Book for Girls:  A Growing Up Guide for Parents and Daughters, by Lynda Madaras.  A sensitive and well-organized guide to puberty, covering physical changes, pimples, reproductive organs, sexuality and puberty in the opposite sex.  Good information for 9-13 year olds.

Compiled by Kyla Boyse, RN. Reviewed by faculty and staff at the University of Michigan.
Updated June 2010

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U-M Health System Related Sites:
Department of Psychiatry
U-M Pediatrics

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