{Virtual Book Club} Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Dr. Laura Markham

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This is a parenting book must!  Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting by Dr. Laura Markham will give you the tools that you need to navigate how to turn your young kids into happy ones while teaching you how to stop yelling and remain peaceful.  This is truly a gem and the things that Dr. Markham discusses work. Seriously!

My husband is often a skeptic of any parenting book I read. He is open to them but always reminds me that he won’t follow the book’s advice unless he sees that it works. Fair enough. So I tell him what I read and how to apply it, and then he reports back to me on the results.  The techniques in this book got his stamp of approval, which says a lot. There are many aspects of the book that I like, but for the sake of not turning this post into a book itself, I will only highlight a few things.

Change Starts with Us

Unlike most other parenting books out there, this one focuses on changing us! Yes, you heard that correctly. We’re the ones who need to change, not the children.

So therein lies the basis of this book, making us better parents (and humans) by owning up to our actions and reactions to our kids. Once we make a commitment to ourselves that we will not yell, punish, or abuse anymore in any way, then the work has begun. Markham claims that, although you will still have the occasional tantrum, you will no longer have to count down 3… 2… 1, bribe, or threaten your child.  She doesn’t claim the result will be a perfect child, but she does say that any tantrums that do happen will run their course in less time, and you will be calm while you weather the tantrum storm.

Emotional Backpacks

One analogy that she talks about often in her book is a child’s emotional backpack and how it gets filled throughout the day. Kids carry the backpack with them. When it overfills, then the tears and tantrums start. This is their way of telling us that they took on too much and cannot handle any more.  From our perspective it may look like the backpack isn’t anywhere near full:

You picked your daughter up from school, and she was in a GREAT mood. Then you told her she couldn’t paint until after dinner. That’s when you see her melt down. In reality, it’s not that you didn’t let her paint right away. It’s that she has been handling her emotions so well while away from you that she finally she feels safe at home to unload the backpack. Not getting to paint right now made her emotional backpack overflow. This concept has really helped me understand my son in many ways and realize that sometimes he just needs to release his emotions and that it’s okay for him to do so.

Be Proactive with Laughter

One way of helping to keep the backpack empty, according to her book, is through laughter.  Finding moments throughout the day to help your child laugh will give them an outlet for their emotions before they can build up to a tantrum. Engage and laugh with your children when things are going well and even when they’re not. When I find myself getting frustrated with my son I make turn it into a tickling game. Yes, if this sounds odd, you are not alone, but let me tell you, there is no greater feeling than being frustrated at your little one and diffusing the situation in a way that makes my son laugh. Of course, there are times that your child won’t be down for a tickling game, but, for the most, it works, and I highly recommend giving it a try.  

The book is a SUPER easy read, and she even has a course from her website Aha Parenting to really help you understand her methods (I signed up for the course first, and that’s how I got my hands on the book).  She also offers a book to help manage sibling relationships for those of you with multiple kids. There is SO much more I could write about this book, but I’d rather you get the information directly from the source.  


Join us for next month’s book club selection, Childwise that we’ll review on July 25.

Click here for all of our past reviews.

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