Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child

18.10.2023 |

Episode #8 of the course 100 Nonfiction Books Everyone Should Read by John Robin


Welcome back to our course on 100 Nonfiction books everyone should read!

Last lesson, we explored the political science, journalism, true crime, and essay category. Put together with the previous six categories, we have a bit more of an objective angle on the personal narrative.

Where can we go next to expand the map? Welcome to lesson 8, where we’ll now explore another category which covers a bit more on relationships, with a focus on family and education. Get ready to add 10 more great books to our must-read shelf!


Parenting, Family, and Education

Top recommendation: Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child by John M. Gottman.

This next category includes books focused on a different aspect of relationships, that of parenting, family or educating children. Like self-help, this category contains another wealth of nonfiction knowledge and many great books to round out your appreciation of what nonfiction has to offer.

Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John M. Gottman is the top pick for this category regardless of whether or not you are a parent.

I am not a parent, and yet I found the wisdom within this book gave me a deep appreciation for self-reflection; it helped me to think of myself as the child who grew up in my own family environment, and the important—and often overlooked—aspect of emotional development that has shaped me into the person I am today.

Indeed, this book by John M. Gottman really stresses the way a child’s emotional development isn’t just important for childhood, but continues on into adulthood, even for one’s whole life. For parents, or those contemplating parenthood, it helps you think about ways you can nurture your child to not just be smart, but emotionally equipped. It explores the importance of emotional intelligence, in contrast with just intellectual intelligence, and reveals how much more far-reaching this is than the kinds of smarts that can land you high SAT scores or good academic grades.

It’s no wonder this book was the primary inspiration behind yet another of my popular courses, How To Become Happier: A Guide To Reprogramming Your Thinking. You can be accomplished, successful, and intelligent, but if you aren’t in touch with your emotions and how to handle them—particularly those underlying how you react to social stresses and self-esteem—you can be crippled personally and socially.

Whether for the good of your children, or for your own motivation to start parenting yourself through self-care work, this book’s instructions will help equip you for a course in self-improvement that truly matters.

Runners up:

Delivering further on the underlying philosophy of emotional development in children, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Laura Markham is a strong runner-up in this category. This book focuses a bit more on some of the common tactics of punishment used by parents, and provides alternatives that instead foster empathy and self-discipline. Like with Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child, I found this book’s tips can easily translate to the present and the process of self-parenting your inner child. I was able to apply the insights to my own patterns of response.

The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care by Dr. Benjamin Spock is also one I found invaluable. This book from the 1940s became a hallmark reference for parents from the 1950s onward. As a pediatrician, Spock’s mission was to counter many of the misleading child-care tips endorsed by the US government’s publicly circulated manuals. The result was an alternative method that at the time was radical, but today has become the cornerstone of common-sense parenting. This book also has value to someone who isn’t a parent. It served to expand my worldview and gave me a renewed interest in the stories my mother had of my upbringing, and made me more empathetic of those who are parents.

Unequal Childhoods by Annette Lareau is an examination of 88 different families, of varying races and social classes. Lareau reveals two primary parenting styles, called Concerted Cultivation and Accomplishment of Natural Growth. Concerted Cultivation, favored by middle-class families, involves parents taking very active roles in their children’s activities, whereas Accomplishment of Natural Growth, favored by working-class or lower-class families, involves parents giving less-structured directives to their children, allowing them to play on their own. Children raised with Concerted Cultivation tend to be more entitled, while those raised with Accomplishment of Natural Growth develop earlier independence and respect for authority. This book is a great study on the impacts of upbringing in a way to leave you with tangible examples from the lives of the people it follows.

The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America’s Broken Education Systemand How to Fix It by Natalie Wexler is another great read in this category. Attempting to assess some of the major deficits in the current US education system, Wexler’s book provides an eye-opening exploration of the history of education, policy-making, research, and the way education philosophies have shifted with time.

Honorable mentions:

Here are five honorable mentions to round out our list of 10:

Make It Stick by Henry L. Roediger III, Mark A. McDaniel, and Peter C. Brown is an examination of learning methods that work, and why certain methods fail, with an appeal to cognitive psychology to better understand the process.

The Power of Making Things Visible by Ron Ritchhart and Mark Church, exploring ways to develop better thinking routines, with numerous tips that show how to make your thinking process more visual, and ultimately, help you think more clearly.

The Science of Self-Learning: How to Teach Yourself Anything, Learn More in Less Time, and Direct Your Own Education by Peter Hollins, a book for the self-learner, with methods backed by psychological study.

Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason by Alfie Kohn, presenting a paradigm shift in parenting approaches aimed at fostering unconditional love.

The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabary, teaching ways to put aside common “know it all” parenting instincts and instead enter into a more present, mutual relationship with your child.

Stay tuned for tomorrow, when we’ll see what top 10 books await in the next category!


Recommended movie

Good Will Hunting (1997), with Robin Williams and Matt Damon


Share with friends