15 Connection-Building Books for Parents

from the hand in hand blog(1)



Our founder, Patty Wipfler’s book Listen, Five Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges, is a treasure trove of anecdotes and wisdom drawn from her 40 years working with children and families. At the centre of the approach are five listening tools, ways that parents can use to connect with their children to help them overcome every day parenting challenges, from tantrums and refusals to separation issues and sleep struggles.

Patty developed the tools as her own children grew, and then began using them at Hand in Hand, a non-profit organisation that now has instructors teaching the skills in 23 countries. As the organisation took shape, brain science uncovered the reasons why positive connections are so good for parents and children, backing up Patty’s real-life experiences “in-the-field.” Patty constantly referenced new findings, read materials by other parenting pioneers and incorporated them into her approach.

Here, she invites readers to browse her bookshelf and the works that inspired, enlightened and delighted her. These books were a pathway she took as she developed Hand in Hand, and she hopes they will be as helpful to you as they were – and still are  – for her. Here are Patty’s top 15 connection-building books for parents looking for significant, lasting relationships with their children.

15 Connection-Building Books for Parents


Playful Parentingplayful-parenting

Lawrence J. Cohen

Build strong close bonds with your children through play. Lawrence Cohen’s Playful Parenting gives numerous examples of games you can play to solve struggles and raise confident children, right from babyhood through to teens. “Through play we join our kids in “their world,” says Cohen, and that’s a very special place to be, see and listen.

Patty also recommends The Art of Roughhousing and The Opposite of Worry: The Playful Parenting Approach to Childhood Anxieties and Fears, two other favourites from Lawrence Cohen.


peacefulparenthappykids-cover-350Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting

Dr. Laura Markham

From the founder of Aha! Parenting, this primer on peaceful primer shows parents how to coach rather than control their children using empathy and understanding with plentiful examples, and highlights the importance of parents regulating their own emotions too. Written in Dr. Laura’s warm, comforting voice, here is a book packed with peaceful parenting gems: How to listen to children, how to discipline without punishment, how to build relationships with your children.  Definitely one to cuddle up with.



parentingfrominside_lgParenting from the Inside Out

Daniel J. Siegel and Mary Hartzell

Fans of Daniel Siegel’s Whole-Brain Child might have missed this book, but shouldn’t. In this fascinating read, parents learn just how much their own upbringings influence how they raise their children and gives advice on making peace with the past in order to parent more effectively. Exercises in each chapter helps the reader dive deep into themselves to uncover new insights and then challenges them to reevaluate the responses they make with their children. A neurobiology approach informs the content but never overshadows it.

See more of Siegel’s work in The Developing Mind, Second Edition: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are and Better Parents, Better Spouses, Better People.


aware-babyThe Aware Baby

Aletha J. Solter

As groundbreaking for new parents today as it was when first published, parent consultant and behavioral developmentalist Solter tackles the gamut of behaviors that affect babies and toddlers up to two and a half. At the cornerstone of her approach is that baby crying is not only necessary but healing, and that adult attempts to quell this release can result in stuck hurts and stresses later on. Practical tools are given that help parents bond with their babies, respond with calm to crying, and ease sleep issues, all without punishments or rewards. A real gift of good sense for what can be an intense and emotional stretch for many parents.

simplicity-parentingSimplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids

Kim John Payne with Lisa M. Ross

Modern life, with too much stuff and too many choices, can disrupt peace and playfulness that children deserve says family consultant Kim John Payne in his book. He devotes chapters on how to declutter possessions and minimise toys to reduce stress at home, and how to set rules around screens and reduce sensory overload and them shows how establishing open spaces, rituals and routines can nurture and allow children to release tensions that cause them sliding behavior. “This book,” he says, “is about realigning our daily lives with the dreams with the pace and the promise of childhood.”

chocolate-vanillaI’m Chocolate, You’re Vanilla: Raising Healthy Black and Biracial Children in a Race-Conscious World

Marguerite A. Wright

In this book, first published in 1998, psychologist Marguerite Wright provides an in-depth look into how race looks from a child’s viewpoint, from pre-school to teenage years, and coaches parents and teachers on how to help kids from diverse racial backgrounds retain a healthy sense of self. Narrated conversations with preschoolers about race are utterly enlightening, while the author’s use of case studies and personal experiences combines well with proven research and proves compelling.


hold-on-to-kids-2Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers

Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté

Two heavyweights look deep into why today’s children turn so easily to peers for direction rather than adults, and why this is a step in the wrong direction for them. They encourage parents to hold on tight as children grow into teenhood, to keep forging the strong connections that keep kids looking to adults for wisdom and guidance. When this happens, the authors say, children are able to grow into confident, independently-minded young people that neither rebel against an older generation or conform to their peers.

the-war-against-parentsThe War Against Parents: What We Can Do for America’s Beleaguered Moms and Dads

Silvia Ann Hewlett and Cornel West

The authors examine how the problems faced by many modern day American parents are driven by governments and big business and then look to the damaging effects this has on their families. In comparing their own, family-oriented childhoods to their struggles as parents today to maintain that ideal they call on readers to create a new unity – a G.I. Bill for the Twenty-first Century. Powerful and challenging.



general-loveA General Theory of Love

Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon

By explaining, in a clear, yet almost poetic tone, how the brain develops and how this affects the way we feel love, the authors unlock secrets of the heart. Through the course of the book, readers come to understand why our brains cause us to interact with others emotionally and how past hurts carry forward. They explain too why connection – received the earlier the better – and authenticity increase our abilities to form and sustain deep and lasting relationships. For parents, this is an impactful read that shows us why time spent connecting with our children is so very valuable.


Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five

John Medina

Science combines with practical advice in this book that shows how to establish practices that aid brain development, even from in-utero. The content details what is needed to raise intelligent babies, but stresses the importance of happiness and morality alongside smarts. Medina encourages an empathic approach with firm, loving limits. Research and advice given in a warm, often witty voice.


The Irreducible Needs of Children, What Every Child Must Have to Grow, Learn, and Flourish

T. Berry Brazelton and Stanley L. Greenspan

This scholarly tome still has plenty for parents to learn from. Highlighting seven basic needs that children need to flourish, the book also poses thought-provoking questions, for parents and about society at large, such as why children are still failing in the school system. If you’ve ever wanted to know how much time your children need with parents one-on-one, what interactions are most required to ensure lasting, nurturing relationships, and how children are affected when their caregivers change, the answers, among many others, is here.

your-childs-self-esteem-2Your Child’s Self‐Esteem: The Key to Life

Dorothy Briggs

First published in 1975, this book has remained an essential guide for parents wanting to raise happier, independent, confident children. At its centre is the importance of a child’s strong sense of self, brought about when children are treated with empathy, where their true qualities are recognised, and in a non-judgmental environment where their feelings are ‘allowed’. Flaws in the parents own upbringings, and the impact these can have are addressed,  while advice covers how to approach numerous parenting challenges, including jealousy and anger. While some of the language may sound outdated, most of the wisdom here is entirely relevant.

shelter-of-eachotherThe Shelter of Each Other: Rebuilding Our Families to Enrich our Lives

Mary Pipfer

If you’ve felt fallout from what author therapist Pipfer calls “the current family-hurting culture,” where American parents are time-stretched, the media and The Corporation’s influences threaten the family unit, and technology overrides conversation, read this. Vivid examples show how connection remains the hardiest tool for families to remain close and strong, despite economic, social or racial challenges and today’s shifting cultural landscape, and with it’s examples of how to achieve it, the book offers protection for the modern-day family.

positive-parentingPositive Parenting: An Essential Guide

Rebecca Eanes

Before she gives an in-depth look into why children behave as they do, author Rebecca Eanes asks parents to look inwards and focus on their own thoughts and messages, asking them to probe and evaluate their relationships with others. Once this has been achieved, she moves on, through to involving partners in the positive parenting way, and then to the children. Like a friend coaching through tough times, Eanes shares her own experiences on the parenting track, and dispenses advice without judgment. This empowering approach that lets parents clear out their own baggage making closer connections easier to build.

HinH-LISTEN-BookCover-R3Listen, Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges

Patty Wipfler and Tosha Schore

Written as the ultimate connection parenting resource, Hand in Hand founder Patty Wipfler enlists the knowledge of Tosha Schore for this work, who was raised on the tools and now instructs them. First chapters outlines five listening tools, how and why they work, along with a little accessible brain science, while the remainder is a complete toolbox, listing the numerous challenging situations that today’s parents face, with a guide to what tool fits and how to apply it, sometimes complete with words parents could say and actions they could use. Seemingly, there is no situation uncovered here, making this a go-to resource for parents looking to restore calm and confidence and build connections.

From the Hand in Hand Toolbox:


Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges

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