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12 best parenting books on toddler discipline (2024)

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Navigating the early years of parenthood can be as demanding as it is rewarding, and finding resources to guide you through the toddler stage can make a lot of difference in your parenting.

There are tons of parenting books available in the market, it can be overwhelming to discern which ones will provide the support and advice that align with your parenting style and your child’s needs.

Whether you’re looking for strategies to manage tantrums, have insights into your toddler’s brain development and have healthy control over their behavior, or ways to cultivate a loving and empathetic home environment, there’s a wealth of knowledge to be tapped into.

Parenting books are one of my favorite ways to get help as they can go deeply into a specific topic and also into the age group we want to learn more about.

These books help to ensure that the problems we face are not unique and that almost all parenting problems are universal. And more importantly, they provide practical solutions to our problems and thus improve our children’s behavior. 

Perhaps you’re a first-time parent looking for guidance on a toddler’s sleep patterns and developmental milestones, or maybe you’re more seasoned and seeking fresh approaches to communication and discipline.

The best parenting books for toddlers offer a blend of expert wisdom, practical advice, and real-life examples, enabling you to foster a secure and nurturing relationship with your child.

I agree not all books are for everyone. Go through recommendations and reviews, and consider what resonates with you and your family dynamics. Take in what resonates with you and leave the rest.

So, let’s explore the list of best books for toddler discipline and learn effective discipline techniques. 

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning that if you happen to purchase something, I get a small commission at NO extra cost to you.

1. How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen (By Joanna Faber & Julie King)

When communicating with young children, it’s imperative to adopt strategies that resonate with their level of understanding and emotional development. 

“How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen” provides a bevy of techniques for parents and caregivers.

Structured as a practical, hands-on guide, the book offers advice for common scenarios that you may encounter with children aged 2 to 7.

Key concepts:

  • Empathize with feelings: Recognize and verbalize your child’s emotions to show understanding and respect.
  • Offer choices: Children feel empowered when given limited options rather than commands.
  • Problem-solving: Involve your child in finding a solution to conflicts which fosters a sense of collaboration and respect.

In addition to these strategies, the book also equips you with ways to defuse confrontations and invoke cooperation, benefiting both you and your child. 

Drawn from real-life anecdotes and experiences, this guide is a must-have resource in your parenting journey to learn the most effective communication skills that can go a long way even after they become tweens or teens. 

This book provides actionable steps and methodologies that cater specifically to the unique challenges faced during early childhood and I highly recommend it.

One of my favorite quotes from the book is:

The next time your kid says something negative and inflammatory, follow these steps: 

1. Grit your teeth and resist the urge to immediately contradict him! 

2. Think about the emotion he is feeling 

3. Name the emotion and put it in a sentence

This advice is spot-on and is something I am trying to implement with my kids, even though they are older now.

I noticed that many times, my immediate reaction when my daughter vents about a situation negatively is to correct her or point out the mistakes she made in that situation. And needless to say, she immediately feels misunderstood or unheard. 

So, these days I remind myself daily of this crucial communication mistake and am taking steps to stop the urge to intervene with my own “advice” when they talk. 

​Excerpt from the book:

“When kids are unhappy, we don’t have to prop them up with frantic praise. It’s more helpful to say, “Ugh, you are not happy with the way that bicycle came out. It doesn’t look like what you see in your head. It’s not easy to draw a bike. It’s hard to put something from real life onto a flat piece of paper and get it to look right.”

2. The Happiest Toddler on the Block (by Harvey Karp, M.D)

When navigating the tumultuous terrain of toddlerhood, The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp, M.D. could be an invaluable resource.

Dr. Karp’s strategies focus on effective communication and fostering a cooperative relationship between you and your child. 

This book is specifically written to help with children aged 1 to 4 years, covering both the perspective of the toddler and the parent.

It explains the foundation of shaping a toddler’s behavior while also taking into account the developmental stages.

We all know how unpredictable toddlers are.

They are the most happy kids one moment and can throw the wildest tantrums the next for the most silly reasons.

This book will help you learn effective parenting techniques that are effective in helping you learn how toddlers think and how to understand their feelings when they go out of control and respond to them in a healthy way.

This will ultimately lead to fewer power struggles and lay a good foundation for the even more tumultuous years coming ahead. (the teenagers are a whole different beast!)

Key Concepts:

  • Toddler-ese: Learn the best way to speak your toddler’s language, a method Dr. Karp refers to as “Toddler-ese,” which can help you connect with and calm your toddler.
  • The Fast-Food Rule: This communication technique emphasizes the importance of acknowledging your toddler’s feelings first before addressing your own.

The Fast-Food rule by Harvey Karp is worth remembering throughout your parenting journey, not just during toddlerhood. 

The Fast-Food Rule says

Whenever you’re speaking with someone who is upset, they get to go first, and you acknowledge their feelings before doing anything else.

Quote from the book:

Your ultimate goal as a parent is not to win any one particular fight or another, but rather to win your child’s love and respect for a lifetime.

3. Good Inside (by Dr. Becky Kennedy)

If you want to learn more about the positive parenting approach to raising toddlers, “Good Inside: A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be” is a valuable resource.

Authored by Dr. Becky Kennedy, it offers a practical approach to understanding your child’s emotional world.

The book equips you to:

  • Communicate effectively with your child
  • Foster a relationship based on compassion and understanding
  • Guide behavior through connection rather than punishment

Dr. Kennedy’s expertise in child psychology shines as she explains how to build a nurturing environment for your toddler’s development. Your approach to discipline and day-to-day struggles are refined, promoting positive behavior while maintaining a strong bond.

Key insights include:

  • Recognizing your child’s needs beyond the surface behavior
  • Strategies to soothe tantrums with empathy
  • Ways to foster independence alongside security

This book has many user-friendly concepts and relatable examples.

I love the books that provide examples, as those can be truly helpful in deepening the lesson in our brains.

Dr. Becky is also active on her Instagram account and she creates content with lots of real scenarios talking about what she would do in such scenarios.

Excerpt from the book:

“If we don’t build a sturdy foundation with our kids—one based in trust, understanding, and curiosity—then we have nothing keeping them attached to us. I think about the term “connection capital” a lot.

It refers to the reserve of positive feelings we hopefully build up with our children, which we can pull from in times of struggle or when the relationship between us gets strained. If we don’t build this up during our children’s earlier years, well, we have nothing to draw on when our kids are adolescents and young adults”

4. The Whole Brain Child (by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson)

The book “The Whole-Brain Child” offers a revolutionary approach to child-rearing with a focus on healthy brain development.

Written by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, the book introduces you to twelve strategies to help your child grow emotionally and intellectually.

The strategies in this book are recommended for kids from birth to 12 years old.

Key Concepts:

  • Understand how your child’s brain works
  • Techniques for dealing with everyday parenting struggles
  • Methods to nurture mental resilience

You’ll learn to approach parenting challenges with scientific insights into how a child’s mind operates. Expect to gain methods of fostering healthy emotional development in your kids.

Some of the key strategies mentioned in the book to use when kids are upset:

1. Connect and Redirect: Addressing emotional outbursts with empathy.

2. Engage, Don’t Enrage: Keeping your child thinking and listening rather than reacting

3. Use It or Lose It: Encouraging the use of more sophisticated brain parts.

4. Move It or Lose It: Using physical activities to shift your child’s emotional state.

5. And much more!

In total, there are twelve strategies to learn, and applying these strategies can assist in turning potential conflicts and temper tantrums into opportunities for growth, helping you and your child navigate the various stages of their development with confidence. 

This book is well-regarded for its accessible language and practical advice, making neuroscience principles readily applicable to everyday situations.

This book also has an accompanying workbook to implement the concepts taught in this book so that parents can practice them in real life. 

Excerpt from the book: 

“When a child is upset, logic often won’t work until we have responded to the right brain’s emotional needs.”

5. No Drama Discipline (by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson)

No Drama Discipline is written by the same authors as The Whole Brain Child and expands upon the parenting approaches introduced in the first book.

This book is for parenting not only toddlers but kids of any age. But the sooner you start, the better.

When facing the challenges of parenting toddlers, you may seek guidance to handle difficult situations calmly and constructively.

“No-Drama Discipline” offers insightful approaches toward effective and compassionate discipline methods.

This book emphasizes the importance of “teaching over punishment” and looks at “bad behavior” as an opportunity to teach important lessons so that gradually, you won’t have to discipline your child as much.

Key Concepts:

  • Understanding Your Child’s Brain: Recognize how brain development affects behavior.
  • Effective Communication: Learn to communicate in ways that foster emotional health.
  • Problem-Solving: Equip yourself with strategies to resolve conflicts and reduce drama.
  • Discipline should be proactive instead of reactive

The book facilitates your ability to:

  • Connect emotionally with your child even as you set boundaries.
  • Avoid punitive measures that may not be effective in the long term.
  • Encourage growth and learning from disciplinary instances.
  • Redirect: Gently steer behaviors while maintaining respect and empathy.
  • Reflect: Help your child understand the impact of their actions.

Similar to The Whole Brain Child, this book has a companion workbook that will assist in applying the concepts from the book. 

A powerful quote from the book:

“Say yes to the feelings, even as you say no to the behavior.”

6. No Bad Kids (by Janet Lansbury)

If you are into positive parenting, Janet Lansbury is one of the first names you might hear.  

Based on the respectful parenting approach known as RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers), this book reiterates a vital parenting philosophy: ‘No child is inherently ‘bad.’

Key Concepts:

  • Respectful Discipline: This method moves away from punishment and emphasizes mutual respect between you and your child.
  • Cooperation and Boundaries: It provides strategies to build cooperation and set clear boundaries without resorting to shaming techniques.
  • Handling Tantrums: Learn to handle tantrums calmly, which offers your toddler a model of composed behavior during stressful moments.

“No Bad Kids” is recommended for its practical advice on dealing with common toddler challenges such as hitting and inappropriate behavior. It underscores the importance of viewing your child’s actions through a lens of curiosity rather than immediate judgment.

This perspective helps you understand why your child acts in certain ways and allows you to respond more effectively.

What you can learn:

  • Methods to cultivate patience and remain calm during testing times.
  • Techniques to guide your child’s behavior without undermining their autonomy.
  • Ways to build a trusting and secure relationship with your toddler.

By embracing the teachings from “No Bad Kids” (her website is also a good resource), you can find the best solutions for common toddler behaviors you feel anxious about.

Excerpt from the book:

“Imagine driving over a bridge in the dark. If the bridge has no railings, we will drive across it slowly and tentatively. But if we see railings on either side of us, we can drive over the bridge with ease and confidence. This is how a young child feels in regard to limits in his environment.

7. Toddler Discipline for Every Age and Stage (by Aubrey Hargis)

When learning more about positive toddler discipline, it’s essential to find effective methods that resonate with both your parenting style and your child’s unique personality. 

Discipline isn’t one-size-fits-all; what works for one child at a certain age might not work for another.

That’s why it’s vital to have resources that address the varying needs at each developmental stage.

This book is divided into sections based on the child development between the ages 1 and 4 and each section covers common toddler behaviors and solutions in that age group.

You can expect respectful parenting practices to deal with problems like tantrums, bedtime battles, picky eating, toilet training, sibling squabbles, and more!

The strategies within are not only effective but also aim to support your child’s growth and help you build a stronger relationship through the years. 

Excerpt from the book:

“When speaking to your young toddler, bend down to her level and look into her eyes. Stop all other body movements, unless you are specifically using sign language or other vocabulary-related gestures.

This is an effective way to capture any child’s attention; she is much more likely to hear and comprehend your words when she can see your lips moving and visually evaluate your facial expressions.

Give your directions or information in short, simple phrases, and speak clearly and slowly. Sometimes even just saying a single word will help her focus on what you’re asking her to do. Finally, make a good guess as to what she is feeling or wanting.

By using these techniques, you are showing her respect. She is much more likely to respond positively if she knows that you are actively trying to help her.”

8. Oh Crap! I Have a Toddler (by Jamie Glowacki)

The book “Oh Crap! I Have a Toddler” by Jamie Glowacki may be just the lifesaver you need to paddle along the toddler years.

Known for her bestselling book on potty training, Glowacki offers real-world, practical age-appropriate strategies for handling the complex years of toddlerhood.

Age Range: Typically for children aged 2-5 years old

  • Topics Covered:
    • Understanding toddler behavior as a curiosity rather than a misconduct
    • Guidance on time-outs and balancing discipline with love
    • Strategies for effective communication with your toddler

Glowacki’s approach explores both the challenges and joys of this stage. She emphasizes the importance of identifying your triggers to better manage your responses to your child’s actions.

Rather than feeling entangled in outbursts or tantrums, you are encouraged to step back and understand the underlying causes.

Glowacki’s advice is split into two essential parts: managing the parent’s well-being along with the child’s development.

What I like about this book is this dual approach, focusing on both parent and child because it’s not always about the kids, parenting is also about managing the emotional health of parents as well.

It’s written in a conversational style, so is an easy read too.

Reading “Oh Crap! I Have a Toddler” empowers you to tackle these ‘crazy awesome years’ with confidence and clarity.

When you’re at the end of your rope, the relatable guidance in this book could be the support you need to regain control and enjoy the journey of parenting a toddler.

Quote from the book:

“There’s a beauty in your children’s seeing you take time for yourself. It is not selfish.”

Related: 15 self-care activities for busy moms to stay sane

9. Toddlers Are A**holes: It’s Not Your Fault (by Bunmi Laditan)

Bunmi Laditan’s book, “Toddlers Are A**holes: It’s Not Your Fault,” offers a comedic yet brutally honest look at the challenges of parenting a toddler.

The book serves not only as a satirical guide but also as a source of comfort in knowing you’re not alone in this journey.

This is not your typical parenting guidebook, but one that can reassure your feelings about parenting a toddler.


  • Humor as a Coping Mechanism: The book uses humor to address the tough realities of raising toddlers, acknowledging their often irrational behavior.
  • Real-life Situations: Laditan shares anecdotes and experiences that you may find all too relatable, reflecting the sometimes absurd situations that toddlers can create.
  • Practical Advice: While the book is lighthearted, it also offers actionable tips and reassurance, emphasizing that toddler behavior is a phase of development and not a reflection of your parenting skills.

Why Read It:

  • You’ll get a good laugh, which can be a much-needed reprieve.
  • It provides a sense of solidarity with other parents of toddlers.
  • The book offers a fresh perspective that can help you see the humor in everyday chaos.

Remember, the stage of “toddler a**holery,” as Laditan puts it, is both normal and temporary.

​Do not pick this book up:

  • If you hate swear words and such strong language – it might be off-putting for some.

Excerpts from the book:

“She loves her kids and is just trying to get through the hard times without losing her mind. She’s too exhausted to be anything but blunt. She’s Sopha King Tyerd. So fucking tired. She’s who I became when I stopped pretending that I had it all under control and realized that raising kids isn’t about perfection, holiday cards, or Pinterest meals. It’s about experiencing the ups and the downs with the people who mean the most to you in the world.”

There’s a reason toddlers are at peak cuteness. It’s because Nature knows that toddlerhood is when you are most likely to take your child to a public park and leave him there with a note that says, “I’m a little shit and they couldn’t take it anymore.

10. The Danish Way of Parenting ( by Jessica Joelle Alexander, Iben Sandahl)

In “The Danish Way of Parenting,” you’ll discover the principles that have led to Denmark consistently ranking as one of the happiest countries in the world.

Authors Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl unpack the parenting practices that contribute to this happiness, offering insights on raising confident, capable children and thus becoming a better parent.

Key concepts include:

  • Play: Encouraging free play is pivotal, as it enhances creativity and problem-solving.
  • Authenticity: Honesty between you and your child fosters trust and understanding.
  • Reframing: This involves turning negative situations into positive learning opportunities.
  • Empathy: Nurturing emotional intelligence leads to stronger, more caring interpersonal relationships.
  • No Ultimatums: Setting boundaries without harsh punishments encourages mutual respect and effective communication.
  • Hygge: The art of creating a warm and inclusive atmosphere is essential for quality family time.

By incorporating these practices, you equip your toddlers with tools to build resilience and happiness. The book doesn’t just offer theory but also practical advice that you can implement directly into your daily routine and family life.

Moreover, the approach focuses on fostering environments where children feel secure enough to explore and express themselves without fear of harsh judgment, critical to their developmental years. 

Danes like to practice family togetherness by creating a cozy atmosphere which is said to be an integral factor that makes them the happiest people on earth. And the author gives some practical tips on how to implement it in our own families. 

For a deeper understanding of these concepts and how to apply them in real life, “The Danish Way of Parenting” is an enlightening and easy read.

This parenting manual offers steps and a philosophy that aims to shape happier, well-rounded individuals inspired by the author’s experiences as an American expat living in Denmark, with a Danish husband. 

Excerpt from the book:

“Talk with your children about how important honesty is in your family. Make it a value. Let them know you put more emphasis on honesty than on the punishment for bad behavior.

If you confront your kids accusingly with anger or threats and are punitive when they misbehave, they might become afraid to tell the truth. If you make it safe for them, they will be honest. Remember, it takes a lot to confess or tell the truth for anyone at any age.

It doesn’t always come naturally. It’s up to us to teach them to be courageous enough to be honest and vulnerable and confess when necessary. Be nonjudgmental. This kind of honest relationship, if fostered well, will be paramount during the teenage years.”

11. How to Con Your Kid (by David Borgenicht & James Grace)

When attempting to guide your child through daily tasks, “How to Con Your Kid” offers a strategic approach. The book serves as a practical toolkit full of clever tricks and tactics for toddler parents. 

Raising children requires learning a lot of tools, and this book offers the best methods and examples on how to con your toddlers to do anything.

After all which parent doesn’t want to make the mealtimes and bedtimes easier? I would take all the tips I can try!

You might already be using the tips if you are an experienced parent, and if you are a new parent, this book will help you learn the tricks of the trade faster.

Key Strategies used in the book:

  • Distraction: Redirect your toddler’s attention to avert meltdowns.
  • Gamification: Transform routine chores into exciting games to encourage cooperation.
  • Incentivization: Offer simple rewards for completing tasks or behaving well.

Employing these techniques can make parenting feel like less of a battle of wills and more of a harmonious journey. This book is a valuable resource if you’re seeking ways to navigate the terrible twos and trying threes with a little more ease and a lot less conflict.

Remember, the goal is not to deceive, but rather to engage your child’s imagination and cooperation positively.

The advice found within the pages is meant to strengthen your bond with your child, turning stressful situations into opportunities for growth and learning.

12. How Toddlers Thrive (by Dr. Tovah P. Klein)

In “How Toddlers Thrive,” you’ll discover the key elements that contribute to your toddler’s growth into a happy and confident individual.

At the heart of the book is a wealth of insight by child psychologist Dr. Tovah P. Klein, who provides useful advice parents can learn, based on cutting-edge research.

Key Concepts:

  • Understanding Behavior: Learn about your toddler’s behavior from their perspective to tailor your support effectively.
  • Fostering Independence: Practical steps to encourage self-reliance while providing a safety net.
  • Enhancing Emotional Intelligence: Ways to nurture empathy and emotional regulation in your toddler.
  • Routines and Structure: The role of consistent routines in creating a sense of security.
  • Play: The importance of play in learning and emotional development.
  • Positive Discipline: Strategies to guide behavior without stifling curiosity.
  • Skills: The skills toddlers should learn before they go to school

This book will help you shift your point of view and see the world through your toddler’s eyes which is essential for them to thrive.

And it reminds you that the approach to parenting during these critical years can lay the foundation for your child’s lifelong success and well-being.

Excerpt from the book:

They need to experience events over and over (and over!) again to master them, especially something as hard as managing strong emotions. Lots of practice and repetition are needed.

Every time you respond to a frightened child with comforting words, “Oh . . . that was scary. The noise was so loud. I’m here with you. You’re safe,” or you encourage your child to persist in a task by labeling their feelings, “You’re feeling so frustrated because that puzzle piece doesn’t fit! You can try again and it might fit,” your child is building connections between thoughts, feelings, and soothing.

Over hundreds or even thousands of trials, your child will begin to internalize this process.


Finding the best parenting books can be a game-changer for parents seeking effective strategies and techniques.

The 12 recommended books in this post offer valuable insights, practical tips, and expert advice to help navigate the challenges of toddler discipline. I hope you find the recommendations useful.

If you loved any particular book, let me know about it in the comments below!

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