Resources for Parents
How can parents help kids develop a healthy self-image? Model good behavior. Talk about it. Encourage your kids to try new things and be independent. Success is important, but make sure to celebrate the learning process, even when the outcome isn’t perfect. Piece of cake, right? Thankfully, there are some great resources out there to help us learn how to practice positive parenting strategies in the real world. Check out some of my favorite books:
The Whole-Brain Child
The human brain doesn’t fully “develop” until the mid-20’s. Before then, the less rational part of the brain is in the driver’s seat. This book breaks down some of the complicated neuroscience and gives parents a simple, visual way to understand brain development in children. With this perspective and a few common sense approaches to helping you and your child navigate challenging emotions, this is a good introduction to building a healthy parent-child relationship.
The idea behind “positive parenting” is getting to the why of children’s behavior rather than just reacting to it. Sort of like treating the underlying issue rather than just addressing the symptoms. This book is a good introduction to the philosophy. Written by a parent as a synopsis of a number of more technical books, this is a very approachable take on positive parenting techniques.
The Gift of Failure
You know what makes for a great self-image? Knowing that you can fail and still be okay. You know what one of the biggest challenges is for parents? Watching a child struggle or fail. This book makes the case for giving your child room to fail…so that they can ultimately succeed. It’s written by an educator, so there’s a focus on children and academics, but the parenting strategies are both evidence-based and broadly applicable.
Resources for Educators
Next to parents, early childhood caregivers and educators are the biggest influence in a child’s life. Being a role model is an amazing responsibility, and it comes with its own challenges. At daycare, preschool, or school, kids learn to see themselves through others’ eyes. Part of your job is to help them learn how to take these lessons in stride. Good news, there are some great resources for you, too:
It’s no secret that we are a society focused on “results,” and in the education system, that means grades and test scores. But once a kid is out of school, how much do those numbers impact their actual success and happiness in life? This book talks about the other intangible factors that give kids a true foundation for a happy life and how educators play a huge role in helping develop those factors.
The science of early childhood development is extensive and can get technical and boring. These authors are science journalists and adept at making the driest topics accessible. If you’re an educator who would love some scientifically-based backing for the things you tell parents all the time—good sleep is critical, unstructured playtime is actual learning, praise is best spent on effort, and social skills are the most important indicator of school readiness—this book will back you up.
Unstructured playtime is critical for children. They get to use their creativity and imagination, practice independent problem-solving, and learn better social skills. This book dives into some of the science behind how it all works and reinforces what so many educators see on a daily basis—having time to play gives kids time to process what they are learning and grow in a positive way.