The sleeping voices: evaluating parenting ‘self-help’ books, narratives of rule, routine and ritual

Lexie Scherer, Amanda Norman

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    Putting children to bed is an everyday practice but is under-studied in childhood research. Findings from this study of eight popular self-help parenting books for 2-to-5-year-olds show that the books rarely, if ever, consider that children have voice/s, or social competence. Where the child does appear, it was to be silenced. Centrally, the authors push failure and responsibility onto parents. We found advice crystallised around either attachment-led approaches, emphasising emotional availability, or behaviourist approaches. The discourses of sleep the books harness are professionalised external lenses. We explore the conflicting and sometimes contradictory ways they position children and families.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalChildren and Society
    Early online date21 Mar 2023
    Publication statusEarly online - 21 Mar 2023


    • Children's sleep
    • parenting advice
    • the child

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