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How to Stop Toddler Tantrums: Review of The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Dr Harvey Karp

The Happiest Toddler on the Block

The Happiest Toddler on the Block

Parents of toddlers know that just when you think you’re through the worst of the sleepless nights and constant carrying of the first year of your child’s life, they learn to walk and the challenges of toddlerhood begin.

Dealing with toddler tantrums are enough to make you tear your hair out and throw a tantrum yourself, but Dr. Harvey Karp has written an excellent book and DVD, The Happiest Toddler on the Block, which can help parents of toddlers reduce the number of tantrums their child has each day. His book and DVD are full of great information and techniques for improving your communication and relationship with your toddler.

The End of Toddler Tantrums?

The Happiest Toddler on the Block encourages parents to think of their children under four as little cavemen instead of small adults. Developmentally, a child’s abilities at 18 months are more like those of a Neanderthal than a modern adult, and when you have realistic expectations about your child’s ability to control their emotions or communicate, the easier it will be to get along together.

The Fast Food Rule

Another tip Dr. Karp offers for frustrated parents is the Fast Food Rule, which states that the person who is hungriest for attention goes first when communicating, and like a drive-thru employee, a parent should repeat the child’s message back to them before moving on to their own agenda.

It sounds too simple to be effective, but even a small child is more likely to listen to you when you demonstrate to them first that you understand how they are feeling. The companion tool to the Fast Food Rule in Dr. Karp’s parenting toolbox is something he calls Toddler-ese. Toddler-ese is simply speaking to your child in the language they use themselves – short, simple, emphatic sentences with matching body language.

Learn How to Speak Your Toddler’s Language

If you are struggling with your toddler’s tantrums, The Happiest Toddler on the Block has some simple, easy to use techniques for communicating and negotiating with your child that are respectful and loving, yet firm.

The biggest obstacle a parent may come across when putting the advice in this book into practice is either not being able to hear or envision what Toddler-ese looks and sounds like in action, or feeling self-conscious or embarrassed when trying it. DVD is an excellent resource for those parents who either don’t have the time to sit down and read the book, or have read the book but want to see the principles put into action with real parents and their children. Watching a toddler go from having a tantrum back to happily playing in 30 seconds is both encouraging and a great learning experience.

The Happiest Toddler on the Block, DVD

The Happiest Toddler on the Block is a great resource for parents of toddlers who want to improve their young child’s behavior and stop tantrums in a loving, respectful way. It is written in a fun, entertaining and accessible style without being preachy or overly medical, and both toddlers and their parents will be happy with the results.

Originally published on Suite101.com on February 13, 2008

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  • Hollie March 1, 2010, 1:08 pm

    I lived by “Happiest Baby”(though Ian was pretty darn happy already) and I bought “Happiest toddler” when the time came. I have to say that I found “Baby” more helpful, but then what isn’t easier with a baby than a toddler? I use the fast food rule with adults too, and it absolutely works. I have to admit I’m not very good at the toddler-ese, as far as really over-exaggerating, I have tried it, but maybe I wasn’t good enough?

    The greatest piece of info I got from the book was NEVER to say, “It’s okay, it’s okay!” like so many do when a child is upset. Because, like Karp says, it is SO not okay! That really undermines the child’s anger/frustration, because if it was okay, they would not be howling and crying. I ALWAYS make a point to say ANYTHING other than “it’s okay” when my son is super upset about something. Nothing would make a person feel more belittled.