The Happiest Toddler on the Block: The New Way to Stop the Daily Battle of Wills and Raise a Secure and Well-Behaved One-to Four-Year-Old By: Harvey Karp & Paula Spencer

Happiest Toddler

The Happiest Toddler on the Block: The New Way to Stop the Daily Battle of Wills and Raise a Secure and Well-Behaved One-to Four-Year-Old By: Harvey Karp & Paula Spencer


Toddlers can drive you bonkers…so adorable and fun one minute…so stubborn and demanding the next! Yet, as unbelievable as it sounds, there is a way to turn the daily stream of “nos” and “don’ts” into “yeses” and hugs…if you know how to speak your toddler’s language. In one of the most useful advances in parenting techniques of the past twenty-five years, Dr. Karp reveals that toddlers, with their immature brains and stormy outbursts, should be thought of not as pint-size people but as pintsize…cavemen. Having noticed that the usual techniques often failed to calm crying toddlers, Dr. Karp discovered that the key to effective communication was to speak to them in their own primitive language. When he did, suddenly he was able to soothe their outbursts almost every time! This amazing success led him to the realization that children between the ages of one and four go through four stages of “evolutionary” growth, each linked to the development of the brain, and each echoing a step in prehistoric humankind’s journey to civilization: – The “Charming Chimp-Child” (12 to 18 months): Wobbles around on two legs, grabs everything in reach, plays a nonstop game of “monkey see monkey do.” – The “Knee-High Neanderthal” (18 to 24 months): Strong-willed, fun-loving, messy, with a vocabulary of about thirty words, the favorites being “no” and “mine.” – The “Clever Caveman” (24 to 36 months): Just beginning to learn how to share, make friends, take turns, and use the potty. – The “Versatile Villager” (36 to 48 months): Loves to tell stories, sing songs and dance, while trying hard to behave. To speak to these children, Dr. Karp has developed two extraordinarily effective techniques: 1) The “fast food” rule–restating what your child has said to make sure you got it right; 2) The four-step rule–using gesture, repetition, simplicity, and tone to help your irate Stone-Ager be happy again. Once you’ve mastered “toddler-ese,” you will be ready to apply behavioral techniques specific to each stage of your child’s development, such as teaching patience and calm, doing time-outs (and time-ins), praise through “gossiping,” and many other strategies. Then all the major challenges of the toddler years–including separation anxiety, sibling rivalry, toilet training, night fears, sleep problems, picky eating, biting and hitting, medicine taking “– “can be handled in a way that will make your toddler feel understood. The result: fewer tantrums, less yelling, and, best of all, more happy, loving time for you and your child.


I really enjoyed the Happiest Baby on the Block and even though several reviews said this one wasn’t as good I thought I’d give it a try.

There was a ton of repetition in the book, just like Happiest Baby, and it felt like every chapter we were going over the same thing. Part of that is the jargon that he uses throughout. Karp has come up with his own terms for things and uses them constantly.

My husband and I found it difficult to use baby talk when our daughter was smaller and I’m finding it impossible to use the “toddlerese” that he highly recommends. It has so far had no affect on my daughter other than to have her look at me like I’m an idiot.

I was also really concerned about his time out recommendations. If a child is under the age of two he recommends putting them in a play pen for time out. I’m unwilling to do that because we do a lot of traveling and I don’t want her to associate punishment with her play pen. When a child is older than two he says to lock them in a room by themselves, a minute for each year old (2 years, 2 minutes). Right after he says that in the book Karp tries to explain his reasoning, but it did not make me feel any better about the idea.

I have no plans to spank my daughter, but neither do I plan on locking her alone in a room, even if it is a short amount of time.

Overall, I was not impressed by this book. He had several recommendations on how to handle a toddler, but no real recommendations on how to help a parent dealing with a toddler. Sure I can try speaking to her like a caveman but first I have to calm myself down. I did kind of like the idea of growling, but I guess that’s just my primitive side showing.



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