Books are such an amazing resource for parents! I’ve compiled a list of 11 incredible children’s books that will support you to teach your child positive behaviour.
So why use books with children to teach positive behavior?
Children’s Books Can Support Children to Learn Positive Behaviour
Books are such a smart tool to use for teaching kids because of the gentle way they can approach a topic. Your child can identify with the character in the book, and learn along with them. Books are interesting, engaging, and a great way to teach your child indirectly. Learning through a story is much less pressure for kids. So much interesting than listening to grown-ups ‘lecture’!
Have you ever tried using books as teaching tools?
If not, I encourage you to give it a go! You might be surprised at how well your child engages with a story. A book is something you can go back to again and again. You can use it as a springboard for conversations, and to refer back to when you need it. Stories stick in our heads- you are providing your child with an internal framework that they can apply to their own life. It’s incredibly powerful.
Children’s Books Support Parents to Teach Positive Behaviour
Behaviour is one of the most challenging things that we deal with as parents. We want to teach positive behaviour to our kids- but where to start?! Using books help us too! They provide us with well thought-out scripts and story-lines that illustrate the lessons we want our children to learn. They provide active strategies that we can use in everyday life to support positive behaviour.
I want to give an example of how these books can be powerful tools for parents. One of the books on my list is ‘Hands Are Not For Hitting.’ Even the title alone teaches parents an awesome positive phrase (that is well planned and backed with research) that you can use with your kids. Instead of saying ‘no hitting!’ which is likely to have the opposite effect, you now have a succinct ‘script’ as a parent for everyday life.
Or think of ‘Frog’s Breathtaking Speech‘ that teaches breathing strategies for when kids are anxious. This is something that you can prompt your child to think about and try out. “Remember how frog breathed when he was feeling worried? Why don’t we try that out? It helped frog a lot.” Sorted!
It’s worth noting that, like with most things in parenting, these books will only work with active and intentional parenting. I’ve mentioned that it’s a great resource for you as a parent, so use it as a resource!
Read the book together with your child, use scripts from the book that you like, and prompt your child to actively use the strategies from the book. Help them to re-frame their thoughts and take control of their behavior. You can use the characters from the books as brilliant examples to help your child really understand and apply strategies and ultimately, to take control of their own positive behaviour.
Check out my list of 11 incredible children’s books- maybe there’s one you can use to teach your child about positive behaviour!
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Incredible Books That Teach Positive Behaviour to Children
CALM DOWN TIME
Calm Down Time is another board book for children 1-3 years old dealing with meltdowns and temper tantrums. It teaches children to use their ‘calm down place’ and even includes a catchy rhyme that can be used as a kind of ‘internal dialogue.’
LITTLE MONKEY CALMS DOWN
Little Monkey Calms Down is a board book for children ages 1-4. It’s beautifully illustrated, and very engaging. Little Monkey has a major meltdown but then uses coping techniques to calm himself down. This book will provide lots of ideas for your child in coping with meltdowns and for you in teaching positive behaviour.
HANDS ARE NOT FOR HITTING
Hands Are Not For Hitting is a bright, durable board book for 1-4 year old children. It teaches children about the things that hands can do, but that violence is never OK.
TEETH ARE NOT FOR BITING
Teeth Are Not For Biting is another board book from the same series and is also for children from 1-4 years old. This book presents positive alternatives to biting. It also includes helpful tips for parents and caregivers.
FEET ARE NOT FOR KICKING
Feet Are Not For Kicking is the third book that I would like to share from this series (although there are more topics that you can check out if you’re interested such as ‘Diapers Are Not Forever,’ ‘Voices Are Not For Yelling‘ and ‘Words Are Not For Hurting‘). This book is also for 1-4 year olds and helps children learn to use their feet for fun, not in anger or frustration.
THE SQUIRRELS WHO SQUABBLED
The Squirrels Who Squabbled is a funny story about friendship and sharing aimed at 3-5 year old children. It has a nice rhyming scheme and is packed with vocab! Like the others, the lesson is well thought out and very applicable to everyday life!
TIGER HAS A TANTRUM
Tiger Has A Tantrum is just what it says- a book about feeling angry! This book is amusing but approaches the topic in a gentle way. It’s written for 3-8 year old children. There are also extra suggestions of activities and ideas that you can talk through with your child.
FROG’S BREATHTAKING SPEECH
Frog’s Breathtaking Speech is one of my favourite books for kids! It’s suitable for children aged 4-11. It’s a little different from the other books in this list as it focuses more on breathing and anxiety than positive behaviour. However, breathing can be used as a powerful technique to deal with anger, anxiety and tension. It gives children a very practical strategy to help them cope with difficult emotions and stressful situations. This is definitely one that you will need to support your child to use in everyday life!
TRAIN YOUR ANGRY DRAGON
Train Your Angry Dragon is aimed at 4-12 year olds. This rhyming book is playful, fun and beautifully illustrated. It teaches children about emotions, anger management, and how to handle it when things don’t go their way. The dragon is a very relatable character for children to learn alongside and is motivating for you and your child to think about and remind each other about in everyday life.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR TEMPER FLARES
What To Do When Your Temper Flares is a book for slightly older children- it’s written for 9-12 year olds. This book is award-winning and aims to ‘help kids learn to help themselves.’ It uses techniques from cognitive behaviour techniques and gives children a ‘step by step’ aimed at cooling angry thoughts and controlling angry actions, resulting in calmer, more effective kids.
A VOLCANO IN MY TUMMY
A Volcano in My Tummy is for 6-13 year olds. It’s extremely accessible and helps children to understand the feeling of anger compared to violence as the behaviour. This book includes activities, stories, articles, and games and is very engaging and fun helping children to relate well to the topic.
Those were the children’s books that teach positive behaviour- but what’s out there for adults?
I would like to include within this post my three book recommendations for adults. Which books will help you to understand behaviour and equip you with the parenting skills that you need?
BEYOND BEHAVIORS BY MONA DELAHOOKE
Beyond Behaviors ‘uses Brain Science and Compassion to Understand and Solve Children’s Behavioural Challenges’. What I love about this book is that she applies neuroscience in a practical way. She says, “This book aims to provide a new context to understand behavioural challenges and offer a road map for making decisions based on each child’s brain and body.” It includes lots of helpful tools such as worksheets and charts.
Beyond Behaviors explores why it is crucial to understand and respond to every child’s individual differences; authentically and with unconditional positive regard. The book explores more in-depth ways of doing so, through the use of valuable worksheets, checklists and models. The resources included in the book assist the reader to enquire about what else might be happening for a child, when they behave in ways that can be easily misunderstood.
NO DRAMA DISCIPLINE BY DANIEL SIEGEL AND TINA BRYSON
No Drama Discipline is filled with facts on brain development and includes lots of research. I like how it breaks down the kind of discipline that is most appropriate and constructive at all ages and stages. It gives lots of advice to break the cycle of negative behaviour and punishment, and gives tips on how to calmly and lovingly connect with a child—no matter how extreme the behaviour—while still setting clear and consistent limits
‘Complete with candid stories and playful illustrations that bring the authors’ suggestions to life, No-Drama Discipline shows you how to work with your child’s developing mind, peacefully resolve conflicts, and inspire happiness and strengthen resilience in everyone in the family.’
POSITIVE PARENTING BY REBECCA EANES
Positive Parenting is written by a parent, not a traditional ‘expert’ but it’s bursting with hard-won, real examples of positive parenting. This book is so, so encouraging and an amazing manual for discouraged parents!
Filled with practical, solution-oriented advice, this is an empowering guide for any parent who longs to end the yelling, power struggles, and downward spiral of acting out, punishment, resentment, and shame–and instead foster an emotional connection that helps kids learn self-discipline, feel confident, and create lasting, loving bonds.
The Parenting Toolbox contains 125 Activities Therapists Use to Reduce Meltdowns, Increase Positive Behaviours & Manage Emotions. It uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to focus on changing negative thoughts, beliefs and attitudes. It will help kids to cope with their stressful moments and anxious thoughts, improve social skills, reduce tantrums and meltdowns and diminish the daily fight over screen time.
The Parenting Toolbox is filled with easy-to-use strategies, backed by science, to overcome challenges and strengthen parent-child interaction – one worksheet, activity and exercise at a time’.
Teaching Positive Behaviour
While children’s books that teach about positive behaviour are a valuable resource in teaching children these skills, they must still be used in conjunction with other parenting skills and strategies.
Always remember that negative behaviour is a form of communication. When your child engages in negative behaviour, try to figure out what it is they are telling you.
Are they engaging in this behaviour because they are unable to express the emotion that they are feeling verbally? Maybe you need to build their speech and language skills and give them the means to use language to tell you how they are feeling.
Having strong speech and language skills is a protective factor against behavioural difficulties. It’s also one of the easiest things that you can start to build from the very moment your child is born. Why not grab my Speech and Language Strategies Freebie to help you with this?
Maybe your child is engaging in a negative behaviour because they are unable to even identify what the emotion is that they are feeling! It might be that you need to build your child’s ‘emotional literacy.‘
Teach them about emotions- help them to be able to label the emotions they feel as well as what practical things they can do to feel better. It helps to model your own emotions and problem-solving. Let them hear you model positive thinking. Live out loud! Let your child hear that’s normal to have these thoughts and what they can do about them.
You might say, “oh no, I’ve spilled my drink! That’s OK, accidents happen. I’m a little frustrated but I know that accidents happen and it’s OK. I can clean it up and get another drink.“
This is a very generic example, but do you get what I mean?
You could even consider setting specific goals and implementing a positive reward system around behaviour.
Above all, stay calm as a parent! Think about what you want to achieve and how you can best demonstrate it. Your child learns most of all by watching you- watching how you react, what you say, and how you problem-solve.
Actively and intentionally model the skills that you want your kids to learn!
You might also enjoy:
- 9 Smart Strategies for Dealing With Tantrums in Toddlers
- 11 Powerful Kids’ Books for Teaching a Growth Mindset
- How to Praise Your Child So They Succeed in Life
- 5 Practical Tips to Manage Parenting and Technology With Success
- 40+ Best Free Apps for Toddlers To Have Fun and Learn
Thank you for reading!