Best Child Psychology Books To Read In 2022

If you are interested in becoming a child psychologist, or if you’re just generally curious about the minds of children, reading child psychology books is a good way to start your learning journey. Reading these books can help you understand how children may act or react in certain situations. They can also give you insight into how you can better interact with children.

What is child psychology?

Child psychology is the scientific study of child development. Child psychologists are experts in understanding the unique stages of development that children go through from birth to adulthood. The field of child psychology is large and varied. It touches almost every aspect of childhood and even adolescence. Child psychologists study various aspects of child development, including biological factors, genetic inheritance, family environment, and learning experiences. Child psychologists work in a variety of settings, including community clinics, schools, orphanages, and mental hospitals.

Here are Best Psych Books recommendations for the best child psychology books to read in 2022.

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The Psychology of the Child

What it’s about: the science behind how children think

The child psychology book The Psychology of the Child was written by eminent psychologist Jean Piaget, a pioneer of child psychology and development. Jean Piaget is best known for his work on cognitive development. The book provides careful detail of Piaget’s theories and discusses every step of child development, from infancy to adolescence. The Psychology of the Child is an often-used reference material for textbooks on child and developmental psychology and is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn more about the field.

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind

What’s it about: why children misbehave

If you’ve always been curious about what drives children to throw tantrums in grocery stores, The Whole-Brain Child is the book for you. The book is written by Dr. Dan Siegel, a neuropsychiatrist, and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, a psychotherapist. The Whole-Brain Child explains that children’s brains aren’t fully developed yet. In particular, Siege and Bryson refer to the “upstairs” brain, which manages children’s emotions and decision-making. This means emotions tend to rule over logic when it comes to children’s behavior. Not only does The Whole-Brain Child provide explanations behind children’s behaviors, but it also gives actionable tips on how we can manage them when they are out of control.

Smart But Scattered: The Revolutionary “Executive Skills” Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential

What it’s about: why children are unable to perform

Dr. Peg Dawson, a school psychologist, and Dr. Richard Guare, a neuropsychologist, authored Smart But Scattered, based on their decades of experience working in the field of child development. In this child psychology book, Dawson and Guare help readers understand why smart kids are unable to perform everyday tasks like finishing homework, putting away toys, or following instructions. They also provide techniques on how you can help children succeed in performing these crucial executive skills, such as organizing, staying focused, and paying attention.

The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When The World Overwhelms Them

What it’s about: understanding and helping highly sensitive children

Often misunderstood, highly sensitive children are “born deeply reflective, sensitive to the subtle, and easily overwhelmed,” attributes that can make children smart and creative. However, these are also traits that can make children timid or misbehave, especially when they are subjected to poor parenting or schooling. As a psychotherapist, Dr. Elaine Aron has decades of experience working with highly sensitive children. In her book The Highly Sensitive Child, she talks about the challenges of raising a highly sensitive child, as well as the four keys to successfully parenting a highly sensitive child. If you’re interested in learning how you can help highly sensitive children navigate a world that’s not so sensitive, then The Highly Sensitive Child is the child psychology book for you.

The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed

What it’s about: helping children embrace failure

The book The Gift of Failure has a simple message to parents: you should let your children fail. In this child psychology book, author Jessica Lahey talks about parents’ tendency to become overprotective of their children, which doesn’t help them at all. According to Lahey, failing gives children the opportunity to solve their own problems, which in turn help them become more resilient individuals. In The Gift of Failure, Lahey discusses how parents can step back to allow children to fail in different aspects in life. This New York Times bestseller is a must-read for anyone who wants to discover what happens when children are allowed to explore the world — and fail in the process.

The Nurture Assumption

What it’s about: how peer groups influence children’s behavior

The Nurture Assumption was written by Judith Rich Harris, whose work has mainly focused on child development. In this child psychology book, Harris argues against the predominant notion that how parents raise their children will determine how they would become as adults. According to Harris, while parents do have a significant effect on children, it’s their peer groups that have a larger influence on how they would turn out.

An example Harris uses in her book is the accent of immigrants’ children. Children of immigrants often pick up the accent of their general environment and rarely adopt their parents’ way of speaking. Because kids identify more with their peer groups than with their parents, peer groups therefore have a stronger influence in shaping children’s behavior.

The book has hotly divided psychologists and scholars, with some praising The Nurture Assumption for its “solid science” while others criticize it, with psychologist Jerome Kagan saying, “The Nurture Assumption ignores some important facts, ones that are inconsistent with this book’s conclusions. Indeed, there is ample evidence that, for better or worse, parents do shape their children.” Regardless, if you are interested in the many ways our environment shapes children’s behaviors, The Nurture Assumption is a perspective you should definitely learn about.

The Deepest Well: Healing The Long-Term Effects Of Childhood Adversity

What it’s about: the effects of abuse and neglect on children

The Deepest Well talks about the psychology and biology of difficult childhood. According to DoSomething.org, one in seven children in the United States experience abuse or neglect. In The Deepest Well, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris discusses how adverse childhood experiences like abuse, neglect, parental addiction, mental illness, and divorce impact children’s biological systems. These changes, according to Dr. Harris, are not temporary and can last a lifetime. For anyone who is interested in learning how difficult childhood can influence the lives of people beyond the abuse and neglect, The Deepest Well is a must-read child psychology book.

If you want your own copy of any of the books mentioned in this list, you can purchase them from Amazon, conveniently linked down below. (Disclosure: Best Psych Books get commissions for purchases made through affiliate links).