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Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting

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A groundbreaking guide to raising responsible, capable, happy kids

Based on the latest research on brain development and extensive clinical experience with parents, Dr. Laura Markham’s approach is as simple as it is effective. Her message: Fostering emotional connection with your child creates real and lasting change. When you have that vital connection, you don’t need to threaten, nag, plead, bribe—or even punish.

This remarkable guide will help parents better understand their own emotions—and get them in check—so they can parent with healthy limits, empathy, and clear communication to raise a self-disciplined child. Step-by-step examples give solutions and kid-tested phrasing for parents of toddlers right through the elementary years.

If you’re tired of power struggles, tantrums, and searching for the right “consequence,” look no further. You’re about to discover the practical tools you need to transform your parenting in a positive, proven way.

276 pages, Paperback

First published November 27, 2012

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Laura Markham

25 books144 followers

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5 stars
4,098 (46%)
4 stars
3,111 (35%)
3 stars
1,199 (13%)
2 stars
254 (2%)
1 star
109 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 931 reviews
Profile Image for Xe Sands.
Author 378 books272 followers
March 15, 2013
It's hard to put into words how I felt as I read this book.

Actually, that's a lie. It's pretty easy to put into words how I felt: like I had failed.

So how can I recommend this book? Why give it 5 stars? Because it's an honest, well-written, compassionate roadmap for a relatively new way of raising our kids. And it works. Frankly, I think this book should be offered to new parents in delivery rooms.

So why the feelings of failure? Well, my kiddo is a teen now, and while reading I couldn't help but see all the ways I could have done better by her and myself. But that is not the book's failing. The book isn't responsible for my past choices - it didn't even exist when my kiddo was born - but I wish it did.

While reading this, I tried using some of the techniques in my parenting and was stunned STUNNED that they worked. It was remarkable. But even more invaluable was that reading this book transformed how I think of my child's behavior, which in turn has helped me parent in a more compassionate and positive manner.

Profile Image for Mary.
169 reviews5 followers
November 10, 2018
Okay, buckle up:

Let me start by saying that the first section (of three) is great. I have already started using some of the advice and it's excellent. I did get a little peeved at her implication that all parents have free time they're just not using, but I convinced myself I was being oversensitive.

Then! Part 2! Which opens with a statement that children in daycare more than 20 hours a week and/or who start daycare before age 3 will inevitably develop behavioral problems (if your kid meets both criteria, you might as well just set up a drug-rehab-in-high-school fund now), and goes downhill from there. She follows that up with saying that if you HAVE to work, then every second with your children has to be one in which you are giving them your undivided attention (even if you have more than one child, which I'm pretty sure violates the laws of physics). And she follows THAT by saying that "if you have to set an alarm, you're not getting enough sleep" and you're a bad parent for not practicing good self-care.

So, according to Markham, I should wait until after my toddler's 8 pm bedtime to even start on cleaning up dinner, doing the dishes, folding the laundry, making the next day's lunches, exercise, journaling, or interacting with my husband (if both parents are home, they are allowed to trade off paying undivided attention to the child, but not to interact with each other). This would get me to bed at 10 at the earliest. And yet if I am then tired when the baby wakes at 4 am, it's my own fault.

I mean... what? What kind of magical time-bending world does she live in? And how detached from the reality of mothers' lives, either working or SAHMs, is this? Being told that every second with your children has to be about them, and every second away from you damages them emotionally, but also that you have to magically find all this time for self-care? WTF?

I dunno, it's entirely possible that Section 3 has awesome advice too, but I just can't bring myself to read on. This book guilted me hard (hard enough to make me cry, actually) for not being maternally loving enough to conjure more than 24 hours out of every day, or for sometimes wanting to talk to my husband after six hours alone with the kids.

My recommendation: get it out of the library. Read Section 1. Give it back. Pretty sure parents all got the feeling-guilty thing down already.
Profile Image for Bird.
781 reviews26 followers
February 28, 2015
I have no idea how to rate this book, so I just chose the middle-of-the-road rating.

A lot of things in this book resonated with me, and in the few weeks that I've been incorporating the author's techniques into my parenting, I've seen many positive changes. My toddler will now ask for a hug when he starts getting upset, and I've staved off many tantrums with my new, gentler parenting style.

That said, there are some instances in this book where the author comes off as batshit crazy. One of her claims is that most kids are carrying around a "backpack" of emotional baggage they've been keeping inside because they haven't felt safe enough to share their deepest fears and worries. Fine, I can go with that. She says that in order to truly connect with your child, they have to first empty their "backpack." I'm still following along, nodding my head. Then she starts talking about her techniques for getting your child to empty their backpack. Basically you do/say something you know will upset them, and get them to start crying. Encourage them to let out all of their feelings. If they stop crying but you think they still have things they need to unload, engage in some emotional poking and prodding to keep them crying. At this point she claims children might become so wrapped up in their "emptying" that they urinate or vomit. AND THIS IS A GOOD THING because it shows that they're really letting go of their baggage. Annnnnnnnnd........she lost me.

I also feel like the author focuses on minutiae to an absurd degree. She claims that if you tell your daughter she's a good girl for working hard, she's going to believe she's only good when she's working hard, and this will lead to an unfulfilling life as a workaholic. (No, I'm not kidding or exaggerating.)

So five stars for the positive impact on my relationship with my child, one star for the batshit crazy pseudo-psychology. Averages together to a solid three stars.
Profile Image for Irena BookDustMagic.
616 reviews496 followers
December 13, 2021
I really hope I will stay true to these advices and that they'll help me through the years.
Review to come tomorrow.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
235 reviews4 followers
January 6, 2014
I was impressed. The idea of no consequences, no punishment, is kind of hard to accept, especially because time-outs and losing privileges is the only thing that seems to work in our house. However, in this book, Dr. Laura explains how bad behavior stems from emotions that need to be processed, and our kids need us to HELP them do that. As I was finishing the book, my 2- and 5-year-olds were fighting over a car. The 5-year-old was riding and her brother wanted a turn. He went over to hit her and grab it away, which normally would have resulted in a huge fight between the two of them and a LOT of yelling from me. Instead, I went over, got down on his level, and said, "You're mad because Bailey's riding the car and you want a turn, right? It's hard to wait." He launched himself into my arms, cried, "Yeah!" and then calmly asked his sister if he could have a turn next. Then he went off to play happily until she was done. MIRACULOUS.

I felt pretty guilty about the yelling, time outs, and other punishments I have used, and I can't say I am able to do this "calm yourself, calm your child" technique 100% of the time, but I am trying and it does help. At the very least, I don't feel nearly as stressed out as I normally do, so that is a big plus.

I probably would have rated it 5 stars but there is some not-helpful advice (like spacing your kids 4 years apart so that you don't have a baby and a toddler at the same time--kind of too late for that!) and the book only deals with kids up to age 9, which is fine for me but may not be helpful for some other readers.
Profile Image for Valerie Keinsley.
25 reviews37 followers
June 11, 2021
I don’t often write reviews, but I feel compelled to for this one. I was super into it after the first several pages, even raving about it to my husband and asking if he’d consider reading along with me. And then it took a turn and started to get very condescending. I had to quit after the section about birth to 13 months being the crucial time for attachment, and how “babies with depressed mothers” struggle emotionally from then on. As a mom who experienced crippling postpartum depression from my firstborn’s birth until he was nearly 5 months old, I couldn’t read any further. This “fact” may indeed be statistically backed up (although nowhere thus far has the author provided any actual studies or research) but what parent needs to be reminded that something SO far beyond their control - in this case, postpartum depression and anxiety - has screwed their kid up for life? I refuse to wallow in that guilt, so I won’t be reading any further.

I do gravitate towards the “peaceful parenting” philosophy, but there are other, much better books on the subject (Rest, Play, Grow is excellent, as well as Dan Siegel’s books). I also vehemently disagree with the author’s statement that “discipline never works” - she equates discipline with punishment, while in reality those are two VERY different things (discipline coming from the root word disciple, which simply means “to teach.”) I do agree that punishment (spanking, time outs, etc) rarely work, but true DISCIPLINE (teaching a child to clean up a mess they’ve made, teaching them to fix something that they’ve broken or solve a problem they’ve created) is important and very necessary as a parent!

I like her premise - choose love, more love is always the answer, your kids are not the enemy, etc - but I wish it was presented with more compassion and less condescension.
Profile Image for Brandy Mcdonald.
53 reviews3 followers
May 18, 2013
I reached for this book from a friend's recommendation because I have a 4-year old who is talking back and a 2-year old who thinks running from me in dangerous situations is a joke. I was searching for something to give me real answers rather than the old, tired advice I had tried a million times. This was the answer!

So many things in this book were almost uncanny in how they described my children, but I really struggled with the idea of removing consequences and time outs as a part of our parenting techniques. However, I have already seen differences in my kids after just a few days and I am happier as a mom. I can honestly say that today was the first day in a long time where I didn't feel emotionally exhausted at the days end and truly enjoyed being a mom! I recommend this book to any parent who wants to truly get to the root of the behavior problems with their kids.

I will say that there were a few items in the book that experience with kids told me to nix (for example, allowing "special rules" during special time with your kids), but I think that is true with any parenting book.
13 reviews2 followers
April 6, 2013
Best parenting book I have ever read, and I've read them all :) Has totally changed the way I see my kids.
Profile Image for Sps.
592 reviews8 followers
September 5, 2018
This book snuggles into the bosom of attachment parenting and Alfie Kohn-style resistance to behaviorism without actually using those terms much. And I have to say I pretty much agree with Markham.

The foreword by Jack Canfield did the book no favors, and there were occasional maudlin passages about the joys of connecting with your child and cutesy testimonials from satisfied consumers. But the ideas in the book are good. Essentially, babies and children can only thrive in a warmly connected relationship with their adult caregiver(s). Markham comes down against 'sleep training' or otherwise not responding to a crying baby for the developing infant's sake and also for the developing emotional bond between parent and child. "Babies learn what to expect, so they'll stop pleading to be parented during the night, or even during the day, if no one responds to their cries...babies who have been sleep trained may go quietly to their cribs on subsequent days, [but] their stress hormones still shoot up, just as they did during the sleep training. In other words, the baby is in a state of stress but stays quiet because he's been taught that asking for help is futile." (96-7) Meanwhile, grownups "have to turn off our natural empathy for our baby." (97) [Note from 2018: I have now learned more about the study about stress hormones cited by Markham and feel that she references it either without understanding or in a dishonest way. There is good science showing that sleep training does not cause permanent emotional harm to children or harm the bond between parents and children, and there is also good science showing that inadequate sleep harms children and parents.]

Many of her recommendations circle back to one-on-one emotional connection with kids, often through physical play. Even, or especially, at the rule-breaking moments when traditional parenting would go into discipline-n-punish mode. She explains that behavior problems generally arise when children have different goals and priorities from their grownups, or when children have emotional stuff going on that they need safety, warmth, and guidance to move through successfully. Markham writes that whining, for example, "is an expression of powerlessness"(143) and parents respond best with a sense of humor. But "you don't actually need to know what's driving his behavior; your first step is always to reconnect."(118) Markham gives "twelve terrific alternatives" for when you're "worried about what you'll do without the threat of consequences to keep your child in line" (187) that remind me of techniques from How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk.

While much of the book deals with behaviors that drive parents batty, Markham also provides a framework for approaching parenting as coaching. Rather than a simple "natural consequences" approach, though, Markham writes that "children who fail often and don't see a way out are learning they can't win. Children develop resilience only when they successfully weather failure, which requires two realizations: 'I know what to do to avoid failing next time, and I can do it,' and 'No matter what happens, I can handle it!'" (230)
Profile Image for Meredith.
144 reviews1 follower
February 5, 2017
I have very conflicting feelings on this book. It is very much an attachment parenting manifesto, and often touts that its method is the best without citing actual research or long term, peer reviewed studies. Regulating my emotions as a parent and spending more time hugging and empathizing with my toddler, I can get on board there. No discipline or negative consequences, well, that's just not how the world works. Not teaching a child that actions can have positive or negative consequences is doing a disservice to them.
Profile Image for Karen.
46 reviews1 follower
January 12, 2014
I found some useful tips in this book, but I also found a lot of guilt. It just doesn't align well with my views on parenting. I do wish to parent with less yelling and I will likely implement some of the suggestions of the author, but I don't think I am causing irreparable harm to my child by some of the choices I make in parenting.
Profile Image for Katrinap.
5 reviews
July 23, 2013
I have been using Dr. Markham's techniques to calm myself & my often strong willed child. Growing up with parents that more often than not, yelled, spanked, threatened & used consequences to get me to behave still has left scars on me. This is not how I wanted to parent my child. Fear works to make a child obey, that's exactly how I was, obedient & yes I turned out "ok" but was always scared of my parents growing up & were the last people I confided in with my problems.
Seeing things from my son's point of view no matter how small or petty it seems to my adult mind is helping us both work through those difficult tantrums & times I just want to yell & tell him to shut up!
I've been going down to his level, understanding his point of view, acknowledging his want or need but I still hold my ground. The crying & screaming will go on for a few more minutes but has more often than not ended with him hugging me, calming down & even him saying sorry without me asking for it. He's only about to turn three.
Connecting through play has always been a huge part of my parenting & I like how this book emphasizes that. Even 10 minutes here and there being fully engaged with him helps.
We both have a long way to go but this book is & has changed my way I parent. I've never believed in time outs or spanking to begin with but needed better tools to guide my son.
I highly recommend this book to anyone that has a toddler or child that causes you stress & anxiety when they have a meltdown & you feel like you will always lose it!
I'm not an attachment parent advocate but Dr. Markham's philosophy works! At least for me & my child.
Profile Image for Andrea Nair.
Author 3 books25 followers
December 17, 2012
As a parenting educator, I am constantly on the look out for resources which will help parents, using the most evidence-based information possible. "Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids" is definitely in my top three list of best parenting books. Use this as a tool to stop shouting and start connecting with your kids.
Profile Image for Стефани Витанова.
Author 1 book733 followers
February 7, 2022
Нека започнем с това, че д-р Маркам е клиничен психолог и основава подхода си на най-новите изследвания в областта на развитието на мозъка.

Книгата ми хареса и м�� беше полезна. Тя е от онези четива, които четеш веднъж и след това препрочиташ, когато имаш нужда от конкретна информация или съвет по дадена тема.

Това, с което ме спечели пред други книги за отглеждане и възпитаване на деца е, че описва родителите като нормални хора със своите емоции и слаби моменти, а не като някакви свръхествествени същества, които трябва да изпълняват винаги и независимо от всичко онова, което е най-добро за децата им. Всички искаме най-доброто за децата си, но едва ли има перфектен родител. И това е ок. Нужно е само родителят да бъде достатъчно добър.

Обръща се внимание на връзката, която се създава с детенцето и как всичко останало би могло да се базира на нея - различен тип рутини, приспиване, отделяне от родителя, ранно събуждане. Разглеждат се различен тип ситуации (с конкретни примери, а не общи такива) и авторката споделя възможните реакции и подходи към тях.

Както при всяка книга, която се причислява към научнопопулярната литература, и при тази всеки човек има какво да си вземе и има какво да прескочи. Не всичко ще бъде приложимо за всеки родител и всяко дете. Аз лично научих нови неща, за които не се бях замисляла и бих прилагала в бъдеще.

Също така ми хареса, че има доза хумор, който отново служи за понижаване стреса на родителя.
Profile Image for Adam.
251 reviews2 followers
July 25, 2019
Other working titles for this that got rejected:
"How To Be An Enabler - A Guide To Parenting"
"How To Emotionally Coddle & Be A Rudderless Parent"

This parenting book is basically filled with catchphrases or directives that are thrown out there and hard to necessarily disagree with, however little exploration of the veracity of those claims is given and when they are explored, the author does a little hand waving to assure the reader she is correct. I happened to be reading Cribsheet by Emily Oster at the same time as this book and it is stunning to see the contrast between a book where the author will bend "studies" to her thesis (this book) and an author that is looking for facts to give to the reader (Cribsheet). It's actually so bad, it is comical. For instance she informs readers that spanking your kid has shown in "studies" to lead to lower IQs for children and traumatic emotional experiences. However, Cribsheet shows that when you account for other variables (i.e. self selection, parents that make that decision are systemically different than the others) there is no difference in outcomes. This constant misuse of correlation implying causation runs rampant throughout this book. Again, this is a technique you use to make studies reflect what you want them to, so it fits neatly into your overarching book. Congratulations you may get a best seller but now the masses are worse off for it. This is similar to when you read a news article that says something like "Diet Coke is linked to cancer". It makes for good headlines and clickbait, but anyone with a brain or that took time to read through the study will likely uncover the claim is much bolder than the evidence supports.

It is particularly ironic that correlation is confused for causation in this book given the language used throughout. Markham is word vomiting her way through Psychology 101 explaining basic principles of introductory psychology. The thing they will teach you in day 1 of such classes though is that correlation is not causation. She must've missed that class. Regardless, her psychology explanations rarely, if ever, coherently add to the book. It is akin to when I tell someone I work in finance and they start rattling off their thesis on some stock and based on the combination of fancy-sounding terms combined with complete incoherence of logic, it is clear they are not an expert. It isn't that obvious in this book, but I would doubt many well regarded psychologists hold this author in high regard.

It is truly amazing the tips this book doles out though. It says let the child lead the relationship emotionally. Yikes! It also gives many examples about why you shouldn't punish and turn things into playfulness to match underlying needs (don't get me started on how need fulfillment doesn't align with her other claims that kids are just trying to learn boundaries). One great example is if your kid were to say, look you in the eyes and throw food, you should drop what you're doing and play with them for 1-2 minutes because what they really need is connection with their parents and that will fix the problem. Um, hell no. You know what the kid learns from that? When I throw food, my parents will stop their busy schedule, give me attention and play with me! There are dozens of similar examples in this book and if you put on heavy enough blinders you can nod along with her conclusions but otherwise you may find yourself reaching for advil to deal with idiocy. I honestly wondered throughout this book if there was ever any editors involved to counter her crazy theories.

Lastly, and perhaps more importantly, you have to understand the crucible in which her theories are formed. She has created this thesis from years of counseling. Who goes to a therapist? Some perfectly healthy parents and kids do, but those are a very small minority compared to extreme cases of dysfunction. She even references in the book at one point that this advice doesn't apply to 95% of people and to that I say AMEN! This book in its entirety is worthless unless you are at your wits end because the entire childrearing relationship has gone straight in the toilet. If it hasn't, the toilet is where you can put this book.
Profile Image for Kimberly OutspokenMom.
103 reviews1 follower
November 12, 2013
This is THE book that was missing from my repertoire of gentle parenting resources. This is THE book that I read two times in a row while barely coming up for air. The is THE book that has actually showed me, in a palatable manner, how to be the patient, non-voice-raising mama I knew I could be.

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids might seem like a lengthy book at first glance but it is divided into three sections which makes it much easier to digest. Each section is broken down further into pointed topics which are designed to help you master peaceful parenting. The division of topics is perfect, giving the reader the opportunity to let the research, the advice, and the real-life application techniques a chance to soak in.

There are so many things I enjoyed about this book. First, while Dr. Laura does not talk down to the reader, she doesn't present information in some esoteric, can't-wrap-your-brain-around-it way either. She is clear and gentle, yet effective in the research and methodology she outlines in the book. Basically, she speaks to your heart in a way that gets it to open up without making you feel horrible about your past shortcomings as a parent.

Second, this book is designed to be used for a long time! Parents of toddlers will benefit just as much as parents of elementary school age children. In fact, the earlier you read this, the more of an opportunity you have to use it as your child grows! Dr. Laura has several sections that she breaks down further based on the age of your child. I love this because as every parent knows, there is NO one size fits all approach to parenting children as they move through various developmental stages. Each age and stage comes with its own unique set of challenges and opportunities. Dr. Laura has given parents the gift of learning how their parenting can evolve alongside their children's growth and development.

My advice is to read the book cover to cover before attempting to implement any of Dr. Laura's techniques. As you go, earmark what resonates with you, perhaps focusing on those areas you really need to troubleshoot within your parenting arsenal. (That is a nice way of saying "earmark the sections that you are having parenting failures with!") Then go back and dig deep. DEEP! Don't take shortcuts. Don't try to rush anything. Take what Dr. Laura suggests and deliberately begin making the changes you feel in your gut you need to make. Then watch your relationship with your child bloom like you never thought it could. Because it will based on my experience.

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids focuses on building connection between parents and children. The book has many ideas that can help parents stop yelling and over-reacting and really start parenting calmly and effectively, even during stressful situations. The book is full of insights and information but it's easy to read and actually applicable to everyday parenting, from meltdowns and power struggles to outlining more positive ways to deal with unacceptable behavior.
Dr. Laura Markham's book is a fantastic resource for parents that want to really enjoy parenting and have a house full of truly happy children.
Profile Image for sologdin.
1,706 reviews617 followers
February 12, 2018
Offers up the unimpeachable advice that one should foster connection with one’s kids rather than yelling at them all the time. The difficulty, of course, is in how each of these things is to be accomplished—because those little fuckers are very very very frustrating at times.

This text falls within the broad spectrum of well-intentioned pop psych self help books (of which I read five last year wtf) that recommend ways of accommodating to the Real of capitalist society rather than soliciting it in its entirety: “we’re forced to parent in our spare time, after meeting the demands of work, commuting, and household responsibilities. Even worse, our culture erodes our relationship with our children and woos them away from us at too early an age” (xix). That said, this is probably a decent effort, and anyone who thinks that they’re fucking up as a parent (as I have thought), this is worth the time.

What’s more interesting is that the text presents a ‘rule’ in the agambenian sense. In Homo Sacer VIII, Agamben identifies monastic rules as a “peculiar literature,” unlike anything else, but finds them to set up regulations wherein the rule and life become indistinguishable, creating a “form of life,” the eidos zoe for the cenobites (koinos bios, common life). The concept is particularly useful in examining self-help pop psych books which concern sexual and family relationships, persons who share a common life together (and that is probably one way to look at all of these that I am writing about on the same day: this one, Mating in Captivity, I Hate You—Don’t Leave Me, and When Evil is a Pretty Face).

So, Part I here is ‘Regulating Yourself,’ Agamben’s regula, wherein the default, pre-rule situation is finding oneself in confrontation with “the enemy” (12), one’s children, a form of agambenian stasis, civil war within the oikos. In order to avoid belligerence, author recommends a detailed process, minute-by-minute, for context-specific situations. (See, for instance, management of anger in 13 steps (12 ff.).) To undo the stasis, the goal is “finding peace within oneself” (29). We then get “ten rules” for the eidos zoe to “raise terrific kids” (32), which includes the curious notion that one should “excavate” the reasons for anger, an archaeology of trauma.

Thereafter the text develops, in picayune detail, rules for interacting with kids of various ages in different circumstances, all with the goal of instilling the regula in the kids such that they are self-managing. Shoot for the stars and land on the floor, I suppose.
Profile Image for Sarah.
411 reviews7 followers
December 30, 2012
I started out this year with "Unconditional Parenting" by Alfie Kohn, which was an extremely validating and powerful reading experience for me and has been immensely important in our parenting. This book is in a similar vein. It may be more appealing and accessible to people just beginning to explore gentle discipline, because it is softer in its presentation and has much more in the way of concrete examples. (I see "Unconditional Parenting" as being more of a tool to develop one's overall parenting philosophy, with some examples and a few concrete instructions. "Peaceful Parent..." is more of a guidebook, I'd say.)

While now and then I found the wording a bit treacly and the breakdowns a bit too repetitive, I generally really liked this and will refer to it when I need a reminder or some grounding. This will not be new ground to anyone familiar with Kohn's work or with emotion coaching, etc., but I think it would be a great resource for people just looking into how not to yell, coerce, punish or bribe in order to get along with their children.
Profile Image for Jenna .
58 reviews65 followers
October 8, 2014
The peaceful/gentle parenting completely changed the dynamic in our household. When I started reading I didn't understand how we could raise a disciplined and obedient child without using methods like time-out, but the time-in method has worked wonders for us. Our son loves us, and deeply wants to feel connected to us and earn our approval. When we shut him away from us he felt confused and didn't understand what we had done wrong. Doing a time-in and sitting next to him as he kicked, screamed, and fought back required a lot of patience, but over time he has learned to express his feelings using words. "Use your words" is something we said over and over for months.

We started using this with our son when he was 3 1/2, in the midst of the most difficult stage we have encountered with him thus far. Our daughter is approaching two years old and it will be interesting to see how these techniques work with a pre-verbal child who is still working to grasp what we are communicating to her.
Profile Image for H.S..
21 reviews
February 9, 2015
This book strikes me as a more intense version of Dr. Sears' writing. At least he acknowledges discipline has a place in parenting. Her "coaching" chapter doesn't offer any specific, practical examples. It's all "If-you-don't-agree-my-way-is-best-you're-not-attached-to-your-child" generalities. This is what irks me about all the "Attachment Parenting" hype. It encourages new parents to believe that misbehaving children are the product of subpar parents, which increases everyone's judge-iness levels and is ultimately devastating for the new parents when they realize that all their baby wearing, cosleeping and breastfeeding did not actually produce a peaceful, well behaved two/three/four-year old. If you're looking for practical advice over theory, skip this book.
Profile Image for Elise.
315 reviews20 followers
September 23, 2016
Notes: I like the part about listening to your anger, rather than acting on it. "acting while we're angry...is hardly ever constructive...The constructive way to handle anger is to limit our expression of it" -p. 14

"Despite the popular idea that we need to 'express' out anger so that it doesn't eat away at us, research shows that expressing anger while we are angry actually makes us more angry." -p. 15

"Laughter releases the same tensions as tears, so playing with children is also a terrific way to support them in expressing their fears and frustrations." -p. 34
Profile Image for Caitlin.
106 reviews
June 15, 2019
This book has been so helpful for my husband and I as parents. I read about half of it when my son was very young, but recently decided to start over and finish it. I am so glad that I did!

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids has three big ideas: 1. Regulating Yourself, 2. Fostering Connection, and 3. Coaching Not Controlling. Some thoughts on each:

(1) Regulating Yourself. This section focuses not on the child, but on the parent! I love this because it’s easy to put the spotlight on your kids when you think of parenting strategies, but Dr Laura says that “Parenting isn’t about what our child does, but about how we respond” (intro). As parents, we have the power to overcome our own emotions of fear/anger/etc and be a calm presence for our kids. Young children, on the other hand, cannot override their big emotions with the logical part of their brain yet (until around age 6!), which is why it isn’t helpful to yell or discipline in the heat of the moment. This section is full of practical ways to manage your own emotions and model emotional regulation for your kids. “When Your Child Melts Down: How to Keep Your Cool” on page 24 is awesome!

(2) Fostering Connection. This section is all about your relationship with your kids. It begins by discussing healthy attachment, the necessity of quality AND quantity time, and how to manage the busyness of everyday life while connecting deeply. I love the explanation of the child’s “emotional bank account” and all of the practical ways to connect daily. I’ve started doing Special Time with my son and it is now one of our favorite times of the day. Other helpful sections are about how to have smooth morning and bedtime routines, how to be a good listener, how to get your child to listen, and how to get out of a negative rut.

(3) Coaching, Not Controlling. This final section is the longest and focuses on the three main ways you interact with your children: emotion coaching, loving guidance, and supporting mastery. A quote right at the beginning hits the nail on the head, I think: “It’s certainly more convenient to shush or threaten an upset child than to help her process her emotions” (91). More convenient for us, perhaps, but not effective in the long run, or good for our relationship.

(a) Raising a Child Who Can Manage Himself: Emotion Coaching. Emotion coaching is all about helping our children understand their feelings so that they can become resilient, empathetic people who can manage themselves. This is my favorite part of the book, so typed up a bunch of points:
-We should place limits on behavior, but never on feelings (92)
-Remember that a toddler’s job is asserting himself and learning to take responsibility (101)
-Toddlers don’t enjoy tantrums, their brains are not developed enough to maintain rational control when emotions are high (103)
-“Rather than seeing tantrums as undesirable behavior . . . wise parents understand that their little one is telling them about his experience. From their loving acceptance, he learns that even the most challenging feelings are bearable.” (104)
“Your acceptance of his emotions teaches your child that his emotional life is not dangerous, is not shameful, and in fact is universal and manageable.” (113)
-Empathy isn’t permissiveness. “You can (and should) set limits. They key is to acknowledge your child’s unhappiness about those limits. It’s important to your child that you be able to tolerate his disappointment and anger at you, as well as all of his other emotions.” (113)
-Children don’t know how to express their big emotions, so they act them out. We often view this as bad behavior, but really they need help processing their complicated feelings (117)
-There is also lots of info about anger and anxiety, games to play with your child, and “scripts” for different situations. Basically, LOVED this section!

(b) Raising A Child Who Wants to Behave. This section is about what Dr Laura calls “loving guidance,” the alternative to punishment. It’s about helping kids become self-disciplined using empathic limits instead of punishment. Fear may be an effective motivator in the moment, but it becomes less effective over time, while love become more effective (182). There are some great sections about setting empathic limits, alternatives to consequences, and helping kids make amends.

(c) Raising a Child Who Achieves with Joy and Self Esteem. The final section stood out to me the least but I still enjoyed it. Mastery coaching involves unconditional love, respect (for our kids’ discovery, interests, curiosity), and “scaffolding” (routines, expectations, modeling, a safe environment). My favorite part was about giving constructive feedback instead of praise. “They key is unconditional positive regard—noticing your child and affirming him, his activities, his self, and your love for him—rather than evaluating him with conditional praise” (232).

Phew. I realize this review is long but I mostly wrote it for myself, to help me process everything I’ve learned.

A few last thoughts, this is not a “Christian book.” However, it focuses on selfless love, grace (although she doesn’t use that word) and relationship over forced/detached obedience, which I believe aligns with Scripture.

Finally, the one big area I disagreed with this book was sleep training. Our ped recommended this book but also gave different instructions for sleep training :)

Dr. Laura Markham is the creator of AhaParenting.com, where you can find a lot of the same information that you find in this book; however, the book puts everything together in a concise and organized format. Obviously, I would recommend it.
293 reviews4 followers
November 5, 2019
If you can read a book and take the good while leaving the bad, then this book is worth reading. If you're the kind of person who falls head-over-heels for a parenting philosophy and then treats it like the Bible, then please avoid this book because you will become a completely demented person (like the woman in a FB mom group who recommended this to me).

The basic premise is that kids misbehave because they crave your attention, so the best way to prevent misbehavior is to proactively slather your kid in a ton of attention. Once they've misbehaved, you again slather them in attention in the form of empathy until they feel heard and loved.

This book is predominantly useful if you have one kid. She gives an example of the kid tormenting the dog and how to handle it, and her suggestion (reward the tormenting with game play until the kid doesn't want to torment the dog any more) would really be a bad idea if the kid was tormenting his sibling instead.

This book also reads like a manual on How to Raise a Snowflake. Snowflake Syndrome is characterized as an empathic disorder in which you expect to be greeted with empathy and understanding no matter how poorly you behave, no matter how trivial your complaint, and no matter how badly you express your desires. And that is literally what Markham tells you to do in this book.

The other thing that rubs me wrong about this book is the constant appeal to "science." According to Markham, after 10,000 years, we have finally figured out how to raise well-adjusted human beings, and this book is the summary of those findings. Her suggestions are very precise, and her insinuations that your child will be messed up forever if you don't follow her method are not subtle.

In reality, she cites some very controversial and non-replicated studies and their interpretations as if they're fact. (There are literally entire books written debunking the Baltimore attachment theory experient, which she not only cites but gives an entire sidebar.) In cases where she can't get away with that, she goes with apophasis -- "saying but not saying" -- like where she compares sleep training to leaving your kid in a Russian orphanage, and then backtracks and says that of course it's totally different, but also, you know, maybe somewhat similar.

Other assertions, such as that disapproving of a child's emotional expression will teach him/her that (s)he is bad and turn them into a maladjusted adult incapable of interpersonal relationships doesn't even get a citation because obviously that's utter nonsense. Every single person who has ever had a relationship in western civilization has been told at some point in their childhood that they're crying over nothing.

I'm giving it three stars because I think she's right that positive attention is a good way to prevent bad behavior. We found that giving our toddler a few key minutes of undivided attention a day went a long way toward improving his behavior. Reading this book will probably have a positive effect on the parenting of most people. But please recognize that, like most parenting philosophies, it has some really bad ideas included as well.
Profile Image for Lisa.
753 reviews50 followers
February 8, 2016
The beginning of this book had me really thinking of the Seinfeld episode where George's dad listened to some relaxation tapes that told him to say, "serenity now," every time he felt his blood pressure get too high. By the end of the episode all the yelling, "serenity now," turns to pent up emotions and the saying becomes, "serenity now, insanity later." I kind of worried and laughed a bit as I listened to this book that all the calming breaths and peaceful demeanor in dealing with young children would turn into insanity later!

I come from a long line of yellers and have seemed to inherit a bit of the yelling myself. I thought this book could be helpful in giving me some strategies to eliminate or at least diminish this less than desirable parenting practice. I was pleasantly surprised as the book went on how much of what the author suggested rang true. She talks a lot about building good connection with our kids and more shocking does not believe in the ever popular time out and much if any punishments. Her big push is to continue to connect with our kids. I don't think I'll subscribe to all of the parenting advice here, but I sure gleaned a lot of useful tips that I hope to implement.
Profile Image for Tara.
75 reviews3 followers
December 30, 2019
4,0 stars!

I found this book helpful in interacting with my pre-schooler. As she had just started pre-school I found myself challenged in how to address behaviours. I think this book is really helpful for those with young children (before age of 10 years) and it gives a lot of practical tips on what to say and do during the toddler years (pre-school included). If you are a parent that is already conscious and mindful of your own thoughts and feelings then I think the practical tips will help a lot. If you struggle already in self-awareness then I think developing that skill is a pre-requisite to this book. So this book won't help in that department but it might encourage you to head down the path of understanding yourself as a parent.

My four stars instead of five stars is a bit with the organisation of the book. I like self-help books that outline the foundation of the author's wisdom in the beginning and THEN go through specifics (in this case, age appropriate specifics). This prevents the repeat and allows the reader to understand clearly the research and background of the author and helps makes a stronger connection to the material that goes in deeper.
Profile Image for Andra Buzatu.
129 reviews17 followers
April 21, 2018
O carte despre educarea sau reeducarea parintilor in raport cu nevoile si aptitudinile copiilor la o anumita varsta. O carte ce puncteaza aspecte importante din dezvoltarea copilului pana la varsta preadolescentei.

Scrisa simplu, dar cursiv si cu multe exemple si posibile abordari. E genul de carte din care sa iei notite si la care sa revenii periodic cu fiecare noua etapa de varsta.
Profile Image for Nata Vieru.
48 reviews12 followers
September 10, 2021
De mult timp am pus ochiul pe această carte, mi-am dorit să o citesc, și nu am dat greș.

L. Markham vine în ajutor părinților cu o mulțime de sfaturi și informații utile cum să educi fără pedepse, fără țipete, cu empatie și dragoste.
Cum să-ți gestionezi emoțiile tu, părintele, în momentele de criză, cum să-ți identifici fricile/traumele din propria copilărie și să le vindeci, astfel să nu mai influențeze relația cu copilul.

O carte pe care o poți citi periodic, în dependență de etapa de dezvoltare a copilului, care te va ajuta să înțelegi ce se întâmplă în creierașul copilului când îți pare că nimic nu funcționează, cum să te conectezi cu copilul tău și să-i înțelegi nevoile.❤️
Profile Image for Lindsey.
1,027 reviews24 followers
July 26, 2019
I want to start by saying that I agree with 90-95% of what Dr. Markham has to say. Her thoughts on reducing stress, increasing connection and communication, and empowering our kids very much mirror how I parent my own kids (or at least how I aspire to parent!). I went into this wanting some help to yell less in my interactions with my elementary schooler and it was some help with that, although despite the stated intention of the book, this is largely aimed at the parents of toddlers and preschoolers.

If you're the parent of a toddler or preschooler and you're struggling with how to get through to them, this will be a good book for you. It reads quickly, has very specific phrasing for communication issues, and supports the idea of your child as a human being in development whose needs vary widely from those of his/her parents. Following these recommendations will set you up for less battles in the future. If you already know that you like attachment style parenting, this book will support those choices. I also received some affirmation that raising a child in the Montessori style has long term benefits, even though the author never references Montessori at all.

So why the three star rating? The delivery didn't work for me on multiple levels. For instance, she supports the idea that the goal of setting limits is to inspire children to self-discipline over time and makes a distinction between discipline and punishment. But then she decides to call it "loving guidance" instead of "discipline". This tendency in modern parenting guides to try to coin shareable phrases annoys me... there's already a perfectly good word for what you're describing. There's a lot of this sort of flowery language and it doesn't appeal to me as a reader or as a parent looking for help in the day-to-day struggle of raising children.

I'm also going to pick a fight over her dismissal of sleep training. There's good evidence to show that, done appropriately, there's no long term harm to an older baby or toddler who is sleep trained and, perhaps critically, that mothers whose children are sleep trained get about an hour more sleep each night. When 1 in 7 mothers suffers from postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety, that extra hour of sleep is a critical one that supports the health of the whole family. But the best part is that later in the book, Dr. Markham solves a four year old's bedtime struggles using exactly the modern version sleep training, sometimes called "graduated extinction". I despise cherry-picked data in books that purport to be evidence-based and it's worse that she casually dismisses the inherent contradiction here.

One final note: if you are parent to a non-neurotypical child, this title only mentions you briefly. While the suggestions here are definitely still useful, strategies which are unique to your needs are not within these pages. Dr. Markham does address when it is useful to seek professional help, but I feel that this book would be improved with some recommendations on how to find a qualified therapist who is a good fit for you and your child.

Overall, the message is good but the delivery got in my way. I would never dissuade a fellow parent from seeking self-improvement with this title but would recommend The Whole-Brain Child first for a parent new to the idea of coaching your child in a developmentally appropriate way.
Profile Image for Lea Ann.
553 reviews13 followers
February 4, 2016
Talk about putting someone through the mommy guilt wringer. I vacillated between chastising myself for essentially ruining my children's lives and patting myself on the back for maybe not doing such a bad job afterall. The final outcome is that yeah, I could probably do better as a parent. And lucky for my kids, I'd like to try to do better. I won't always get there, but I will try. So they've basically won the parenting lottery right?

Essentially, if I had to condense this book's advice into a single sentence, it would be, "Don't be an asshole." And really that's kind of it. But it's more nuanced of course, as all things parenting are. In effect, we must realize that "do as I say, and not as I do" is not an effective parenting technique. Children learn by watching adults, and for the large portion of their early lives those role models are their parents. When we yell and overcome them with physical force to prove a point or to punish, we are modeling to them the way we believe they should handle their own conflicts. NO WONDER WE HAVEN'T ACHIEVED WORLD PEACE YET!

It also touches on a lot of the evidence from studies that suggest that children cognitively cannot pull their behavior into line with our expectations with the kind of regularity we would expect from adults. So give the kids a break, show them some love, understanding, and compassion, and move on from a punishment mindset. All in all some good reminders for busy parents.
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