Book review: Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids

My name is Sarah Lee and I'm a psychotherapist working in Manchester city centre in the UK and online.

Where should you look for parenting advice?

There can be so much parenting advice available that you might feel overwhelmed and not know where to start. What should you read?

Should you read as much as possible? Or maybe you decided not to read anything at all.

These are both opposite ends of the spectrum and there is plenty of middle ground in between. For example choosing books which fit with your parenting approach or reading books on certain topics that you're struggling with. 

In attempting to link this, I realise that the UK publishers have changed the name which is a bit confusing. So I'll post links for both the UK and US versions. 

Below is the UK version:

And the US version:

Why I like Dr. Laura Markham

Firstly, she's a clinical psychologist so she knows what she's talking about.

I've read some books that run counter to everything I've learned as a therapist about how children relate and attach to their parents and what their fundamental requirements are.

Secondly, I like her writing style. She writes clearly and concisely, without using complicated terms that you need to look up. She isn't patronising and she has a friendly and easy to relate to tone. 

What I like about her book

Dr. Markham believes in gentle parenting approaches; you won't find punishments, time outs or taking away toys here.

This can feel a bit scary if you're used to this approach, or you might worry that she advocates for children to be in charge or do whatever they like.

Don't worry! She doesn't.

She does explain why she believes these approaches do not work; they set up an adversary approach and in parenting you'll want to aim for a cooperative approach as far as you can. This will help you to set up relationships where your children feel that you are on their side, and while this won't always work, she has plenty of information to help you know what to do when you can't get on.

This does not mean you always agree with your child, but it does mean that you can empathise with them.

So you don't let them eat chocolate for breakfast, but you can empathise with them wanting to eat it. Who wouldn't want to eat chocolate every day for breakfast if it had no ill effects?!

How to do it

"I know, you'd love to eat chocolate every day for breakfast. I would too! It's sad that we can't, isn't it? We can't do that though, because our body needs lots of different things to stay healthy. Shall we have toast or yoghurt for breakfast? Then later after we've eaten dinner we'll have a chocolate biscuit."

One of the best things about this book in my opinion, is the scripting (as per my example above) that she offers as an example.

If you're not sure exactly what you should be saying this book will give you plenty of examples including the importance of language and how to offer choices (make sure they are choices you are prepared to follow through!) 

This is especially helpful if you know what you don't want to be doing but aren't sure what other options look like. Dr. Markham is also very empathic to parents in her approach and offers lots of suggestions for parents to deal with their own emotional responses to their children misbehaving or doing things they don't agree with. 

What else should I know about Dr. Markham?

She has an excellent site called which provides lots of free information and resources for parents, teachers and anyone who deals with children.

You can also sign up for her email to receive free information and tips about her work. A lot of the information is broken down by age group so you can easily find scenarios that you might be dealing with.

How can psychotherapy help with parenting?

Psychotherapy already knows a lot about about what children need when they are young to grow up to be resilient. However this is not always translated into information for parents which I think is a shame.

When therapists know and understand the consequences of poor parenting or well intended but inadequate parenting, it is important that this is communicated to people who are trying to raise children.

Therapists deal a lot with adults who could have done with better support as children, so I think it's a great idea to help parents understand how offering support to their children will benefit them in the long run.

If you are struggling with parenting or being triggered back to your own childhood, psychotherapy can help you understand what is going on and help you to effect the changes you want to make. 

To arrange a free 20 minute phone consultation to find out how I can help, please call 0161 694 7259 or Contact me here




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