Harvey Karp, MD is an American paediatrician, probably better known in the States for his Happiest Baby on the Block book, first published in 2002. In 2004, Happiest Toddler on the Block followed.
I've not read Happiest Baby on the Block; I discovered Karp when S began to enter the dreaded "terrible twos" and I was searching for any book that might help! I've already written a post about how I was getting on with this book.
Those of you who read this blog regularly may already know I'm something of a "hippie" when it comes to parenting. I don't believe in because I said so or punishments. People give me funny looks in the street because I get down onto my knees to talk to S about what is going on.
This book then, was an absolute godsend to me. Karp doesn't just give ideas for helping your toddler get through the days, but explains why they find it so hard to just sit still/do as they're told/not kick off over the smallest thing.
Karp's explanation centres around the fact that toddlers' brains are not fully developed, and so function a lot like that of a cave man. In the same way that, when we get really angry or upset our behaviour descends to an almost primitive "flight or flight" state, this is amplified for toddlers. And when they're tired or hungry, that's even worse!
|This week's column in my local paper, |
about using one of Karp's techniques.
Some of Karp's ideas sound a little bonkers on paper; one of his favoured techniques when your child is having a tantrum, is to reflect their feelings back to them in a similar tone of voice and with similar language. So rather than say, I know you want to stay in the park, but I have to go shopping and we're late so come on!" you say instead, Johnny says, no, no, no! No leave! Johnny wants to stay in the park but Mummy says no, Mummy says time to go! You then team that with something like I bet I can beat you to the gate or something to make leaving the park fun.
There are loads of great resources in Karp's book, and I've tried most of them out. The only thing I don't agree with is the use of "time out," which I've never been a fan of and as yet have not felt the need to use with S.
I like the way he explains, not only why toddlers often behave the way we do, but why parents often over-react to their children's behaviour. Once you understand this sort of thing, it makes it a lot easier to cope with, but also to try and help them through the hard times they have dealing with their emotions.
Note: I was not asked to review a copy of this book; I have reviewed it because I think it is a valuable resource for parents of toddlers.