Category Archives: Parenting

Raising happy and well-behaved toddlers

The Happiest Toddler on the Block: How to Eliminate Tantrums and Raise a Patient, Respectful, and Cooperative One- to Four-Year-Old by Harvey Karp, M.D.
Click here to purchase The Happiest Toddler on the Block: How to Eliminate Tantrums and Raise a Patient, Respectful, and Cooperative One- to Four-Year-Old: Revised Edition
For years, I have read excellent reviews of Karp’s book The Happiest Baby on the Block but my baby was an easy baby so I never bought that one. However, when my two year old had his first tantrum, I bought this book ASAP! I had no idea my sweet little baby could get so mad! (Good thing I’m a fast reader ;) ) The main idea behind this book is that your toddler has the emotional and communication skills of a cave man. We simply cannot expect them to understand things the way we do and their brains are not wired for them to be treated like miniature people. Fortunately, as a doctor, Karp has lots of experience dealing with frustrated children, so he shares his tips and tricks for calming them and getting them to do what he needs for them to do. He teaches us how to communicate with them in ways they can understand. I have tried many of the ideas in the book and they are very helpful. However, it doesn’t hurt to skim through it every once in a while. This book was a bestseller and the cover is filled with glowing reviews.

Here are the chapter titles:

Part One: The Happiest Toddler: Toddler/Parent Basics
1. Toddler Basics: The Gentle Art of Civilizing a Toddler
2. Parenting Basics: The Lowdown on Bringing Up a Toddler

Part Two: Connect with Respect: Toddler Communication Basics
3. The “Fast Food Rule”: The Golden Rule of Communication
4. “Toddler-ese”: A Talking Style That Really Works!

Part Three: Behavior Basics: Raise a Great Child the Green-Yellow-Red-Light Way
5. Green-Light Behaviors: How to Encourage Good Behavior
6. Yellow-Light Behaviors: How to Curb Annoying Behavior
7. Red-Light Behaviors: How to Put the Brakes on Bad Behavior

Part Four: How Do I Handle This One?
8. Taming Tantrums…Like Magic!
9. Real Answers to Common Problems

Karp begins by telling us a bit about toddler brains and development and how they differ from adult brains–specifically in that they are more emotional. He gives ideas about how to talk to your child so your child feels like you are listening–sometimes fixing their problems isn’t as important as hearing them and acknowledging their frustration. One tip includes repeating your child’s desires back to them so they know you are listening…that doesn’t mean you have to give in though. He gives ideas for taming a tantrum. For example, you want to echo your child’s wishes with emotion–but at one third of the volume. When you communicate in their “language,” they will settle down and hear you so that you can tone down the frustration, acknowledge it and then guide your child the right way. Finally, he tackles specific behaviors–how to encourage the good things and stop the dangerous actions. Towards the end is a section about working on common problems. There is so much great information in this book, I can’t even begin to describe it! But, I know it has worked for me with my toddler, (and would work even better if I were more dedicated to the techniques,) and Karp’s explanations for his techniques really help you understand and appreciate how to talk to your toddler. He really has some good experience and tips!

Lasting Lessons:
Build your child up and give him or her lots of positive attention when he or she is behaving well.Getting the right attention helps prevent tantrums.
Stay patient and remember your child does not have a fully-developed brain. He or she is a little cave person!
Make sure your child knows that you are hearing what they have to say.

The importance of touch and parenting in a baby’s first year

Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain by Sue Gerhardt

Click here to purchase Why Love Matters: How affection shapes a baby’s brain

When I was expecting my first child, I read a few books about the importance of touch. I’d heard the stories of orphaned babies who failed-to-thrive or even died despite having appropriate care and knew that human interaction was important for babies, but I had no idea how important it was! It turns out, the care one receives as an infant can affect one’s entire life. Not that you are doomed if you didn’t get good care, but having poor care really can lead to having more problems as an adult. Sue Gerhardt explains the science behind brain development and explains how experiences in infancy leave an emotional mark. It’s a very interesting book, and it can be a bit overwhelming as you realize just how important your parenting skills are! On the other hand, it also helps you realize that you don’t have to be perfect, but you do have the ability to help your child grow up to be emotionally healthy and more successful navigating through life.
Here are the chapter titles:
Part I–The Foundations: Babies and Their Brains
1. Back to the Beginning
2. Building a Brain
3. Corrosive Cortisone

Part 2–Shaky Foundations and Their Consequences
4. Trying Not to Feel
5. Melancholy Baby
6. Active Harm
7. Torment
8. Original Sin

Part 3–Too Much Information, Not Enough Solutions
9. “If All Else Fails, Hug Your Teddy Bear
10. Birth of the Future

Gerhardt begins by giving us some basic information about how the brain and nervous system work. (Don’t worry; it’s not complicated.) She introduces the theory of attachments–that is, how much a baby trusts his or her caregivers. A baby who has learned that a parent is not reliable will learn that the world is not safe and can carry this detachment into other relationships. Gerhardt also explains that brain neurons need positive experiences to connect and a stressed baby will develop too much cortisol which will hurt the developing brain. (Cortisol is a hormone that the body releases under duress. Too much of it can be harmful for adult bodies as well.) There are many examples of people who received various levels of nurturing as infants and how those experiences affected them throughout their lives. (For example: the baby of a depressed mother is 6 times more likely to be a depressed adult.) This can all seem a bit negative and scary, but of course many of the examples are extreme cases. Fortunately, if you know the information, you can take steps to nurture your baby in a way that will stay with them in a positive manner through their lives. I consider this to be one of the most important parenting books I’ve read because it’s the basis for your baby’s life.
Lasting Lessons:
Remember that your infant depends on YOU for everything and that he or she needs your help to feel safe during those early days. 
It’s important to be responsive and to watch your baby’s cues. You cannot spoil a baby!
Try to be a positive example with lots of smiles for your baby. If you are struggling, make sure you get help and support.

Recent Entries »