Thursday, January 20, 2011

Happiest Toddler On the Block- a review, of sorts! Part One

Nursling...nursing, so 'scuse the typos!

I have bouts of introspection and then droughts of it. I can't go there, takes too much energy.

So I wait. Wait for the next round of- whatever- to break through...To process.

I'm currently reading Happiest Toddler On the Block. I have had it recommended to me SO many times. I have thought about getting it at the library SO many times.

Can I just say, it is so timely! I needed to read his wise, kind, and helpful words this week. I am only about half way through- so I can't speak for the whole book. What he says I've read in so many other parenting books. Really. But I think he simplifies it even more. He takes a lot of the concepts I loved about Screamfree Parenting, and Families Where Grace Is In Place and boils it down to a "Raising a Toddler for Dummies", or pretty close. Every thing suddenly feels a little more doable. Easy? no. But oh so practical. Some thing is clicking.

I'm sooo glad I read this book last! I really think I'm getting so much out of it because of the things that the other two books taught me.

Dr. Karp is so kind, so understanding about how difficult parenting toddlers is. He writes in such a way that I don't feel judged for being so overwhelmed and exhausted by my two toddlers.

I wish I had time to write as much as I'd like to, I have a lot to proccess! But here are the basics of what the book covers.

Part One: Toddler/Parent Basics. Dr. Karp pretty much breaks down why toddlers behave the way they do. He talks about how they aren't miniature children, they are maturing babies. He talks about how they are very similar to cavemen ages 1-4. The biggest thing that impacted me was that, as adults we think of our normal environment as our home. We're inside, we do our best to keep it tidy and safe. He points out that that is NOT what our toddlers think of as "normal". On the basic level, normal for them is being outside! They were meant to be playing in the dirt, feeling the wind and the sunshine. Not in a room with flat walls, toys that make lots of noise, TV input, radio, unnatural colors...etc.

Sounds basic, of course little children like to be outside! But I'd never thought about it quite like that.

Part Two: Toddler Communication Basics: Dr. Karp teaches two very basic and simple skills to communicate with your kids. I think it will really hone in my communication skills quite a bit.

Part Three: Behavior Basics: I haven't read this part but Karp gives ideas for lessening "red light" behavior, encouraging "green light" behavior, lessening "yellow light" (annoying) behavior.

Part Four: How Do I Handle This One?: Dr. Karp pretty much goes through the things he's already taught and how to apply the communication and discipline skill she taught in earlier parts.

I'm really excited to finish this one! I feel like I will be better able to handle situations that have really be overwhelming me. I love that Dr. Karp is focused on helping your toddler navigate toddlerhood intact. He encourages parents not to think of your parenting job description as "boss" but as "ambassador". I loved that! As a good ambassador to Toddler Land I need to learn the language (I'm probably using too many words). I need to learn some communication skills so my children don't feel bull dozed (which increases tantrum responses). As an ambassador it's my job to hold the boundaries "my country will not stand for that!" and tow the line. And to remember that today's enemy, is tomorrows friend. Not that Dr. Karp encourages that "us vs. them" mindset, but it's true...When we're locked in a conflict with our toddler, it's not about winning or losing...It's about maintaining relationship and I feel that Dr. Karps does a very good job of giving parents tools to do that.

I also really appreciated suggestions he gave to parents who are struggling. He points out that we really weren't meant to raise toddlers alone. We were meant to have community around us helping us...friends, family etc. lightening our load. Today's parents don't have that. Dr. Karp points out that the autonomous family is a dangerous thing. He says to look out into the community and find ways to help. But I think that whole subject deserves a post of its own.

Ways to be an Attachment Family with out being autonomous. Or perhaps: meeting your children in the middle: balance.

More soon!

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