Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Happiest Toddler

Back when Chamudi was a newborn, I lived and breathed Dr. Harvey Karp's The Happiest Baby on the Block. His 5 S's were pretty effective--they probably really helped Chamudi make it through that "fourth trimester" more peacefully. But more than that, they gave me something to DO, a ritual of sorts to follow--when I didn't know what on earth I was doing.

Newsflash: I still don't know what I'm doing, though I've become much better at making it up as I go along. So I was very interested to hear about Dr. Karp's The Happiest Toddler on the Block in a New York Times article a few months ago.

The basic idea, as I understand it, is this: when your toddler is melting down, get down on their level, name what they are feeling in extremely simple "caveman"-type language and, once they've calmed down a little, explain very very simply why you can't comply.

The amazing thing is, it actually seems to work. Abba thinks that it's just because I sound so silly doing it that Chamudi is distracted out of his tantrum by the hilarity of it all. But I think Chamudi really appreciates knowing that he's being heard...I mean, who doesn't?

Even if it's all a bunch of hooey, it does something extremely important--it pulls me out of the moment and gives me something proactive to do. So I'm not escalating the situation and turning it into some battle of the wills where everyone loses--I'm stepping just outside of the situation and regaining control. Plus I'm getting a daily exercise in empathy.

So thanks, Dr. Karp. Looking forward to the The Happiest Teenager on the Block...


Anonymous said...

I loved the Happiest Baby on the Block book & dvd. It really got us through the hard parts of the "fourth trimester." I would LOVE to try some of Dr Karp's techniques on our 19 month old. Do you suggest buying the DVD on this? Is it necessary or is just reading the book enough?

Ima Shalom said...

Truthfully, I just read some articles on the web! But I'm sure the DVD would be enough (and certainly better than nothing).