The Happiest Toddler teaches a revolutionary new way to boost your toddler's patience and cooperation in just days. It is designed to help parents with children 8 month to 5 years of age. For 30 years, Dr. Karp has helped over a million parents from working moms to superstars...like Madonna! Learn how to help tough kids be easier: Calming outbursts (often in seconds) with Toddler-ese! Stopping 50-90% of tantrums before they happen. And, you will also learn how to make calm tots even easier, more patient and cooperative. These simple steps will help you build a loving and respectful relationship with your child...to last a lifetime!
Toddlers are fun and silly and they're learning new things every day. But, in important ways the behavior of young children hasn't changed in thousands of years. Toddlers bite and scratch and pee anywhere they want! And, they're not born knowing how to say please and thank you, share their toys or take turns. I often tell parents that a good way to think of your tot is he is not so much a young child as a little....cavemen!
Your job - over the next several years - is to gradually teach your child the rules of society. But during these early years it's important to cut yourself some slack...and to recognize that some days your little Neanderthal friend will not be reasonable and logical no matter how nicely you speak to him or her.
The Fast Food Rule means that who ever is most upset ("hungriest for attention") gets to go first.
In other words, when speaking with upset children (or spouses :)) the goal is to: 1) Acknowledge their feelings in a sincere tone of voice. 2) Once they start calming, it becomes your turn to give your message of explanation or reassurance.
Another key point is: When talking to someone who is upset "what" you say doesn't matter as much as "how" you say it (your body gestures, face and tone of voice).
A big mistake parents make is speaking to an frightened or angy child in too calm a voice! Big emotions turn off our brains and make words spoken in a normal tone of voice sound like "Blah, blah, blah."
Many of us act more primitive when we're very upset...that's why we say angry people "go ape". As mentioned earlier, in some ways our little tots act like primitive little "cave-kids"...even on a good day. And, on a bad day, when they're really upset, they can have a total "prehistoric" melt-down, with screaming, scratching and biting.
Using a normal tone of voice usually works fine when your toddler is happy and calm. But, they often tune us out when they are dealing with strong emotions (anger, sadness, frustration, fear, etc). It's as if the left half of their brains (the part that understands words and logic and controls impulses) just totally gets switched off! (You can find more about these changes in the book, The Happiest Toddler on the Block.
That's why, many of the best parents find that the best way to connect with their tantrumming child is to "translate" their words into a simpler, more primitive language: Toddler-ese.
Use these 3 key steps to translating anything you want into Toddler-ese:
1) Acknowledge what you think your child is feeling...using just 1-3 words.
2) Repeat that acknowledgement 3-10 times (tantrumming toddlers get so upset they often don't even hear the first 3-4 times we say something to them!).
3) Don't yell, but you also don't want to speak in too calm a voice. Your tot will feel the most respected and soothe the fastest when you use your gestures and tone of voice to reflect about 1/3 of her level of upset.
In this lecture, you'll see real moms and dads talking about their experiences using Toddler-ese. You can make any upset friend (or spouse) feel heard and respected just by taking a few seconds to acknowledging their feelings using 1) short phrases, 2) repetition and 3) empathy (reflecting a bit of their strong feelings in your tone of voice, face and gestures). Start out repeating just 1-3 word phrases, 3-10 times (use more repetitions and fewer words for younger or more upset children).
(If you're not sure what to say, just imitate a TV "sportscaster." Narrate what you see your child doing and how she is feeling. Or, be your child's "spokesman" and say the words of sadness or frustration she would say if she could.)
Toddler-ese and the fast food rule can calm 50-60% of tantrums, but they're not magic. Sometimes kids get so sad, frustrated, stubborn or tired that they just can't settle in a minute.
If you use this approach correctly (remember to reflect about 1/3 of your tot's feelings in your tone of voice and gestures) and your child keeps crying try one of these three steps:
1) Give a hug: If you think your child is legitimately hurt/sad.
2) Offer a solution: If you think you can reduce the frustration by helping a little.
3) Kind ignore: After respectfully acknowledging your child's feelings, say "Mama love you so much, but you are so upset! You go ahead and cry...and I'll be right back." Turn your back for 20-30 seconds, then return and repeat your good acknowledgment again (and then ignore if the crying continues). There are lots more tips on this approach (and other simple ways to reduce outbursts) in the book, The Happiest Toddler on the Block.
It is fun having the tools to soothe your child's tantrums! But, if your little tot is wearing you down with meltdowns all day long, you should start thinking about ways to prevent these outbursts...before they even happen. Here are four ideas for keeping your child on the right side of the ragged edge:
1) Avoid Problem Situations! Things that can push our tykes towards the red zone are: boredom, violent TV programs, sweets, caffeine (think cola/iced tea/chocolate), being exposed to family fights, frustrations and temptations.
2) Use Good Communication...All Day Long. Respectful acknowledgement (using your best fast food rule + Toddler-ese) can nip many problems in the bud.
3) Feed the Meter. Kids often act up when they have been ignored for too long. So, rather than working all day and then spending 2 hours playing with your child, break your play time into 15-minue bits of attention offered throughout the day. (Think of it like preventing parking tickets by feeding coins into the meter every 30 minutes.)
4) Teaching Your Child Patience. This is an easy technique that can help even a hyperactive one-year-old be more patient and calm. (In The Happiest Toddler book - on pages 121-25 - this idea is also called "patience stretching.")
Two great ways to feed you child's are "gossiping" and "playing the boob."
One odd fact of human nature is that we believe more whispers that we overhear, than things that are told directly to us. So, if you want to make your praise (or, criticism) five times more powerful...whisper it and pretend that you're trying not to be overheard.
We all know how hard it is to raise a toddler, but you ever stop to think how tough it is to BE a toddler? "Playing the boob" is a fun, silly way to boost your tot's confidence. And, when you do it 5-10 times a day, amazingly your child will automatically become much more patient.
Finally, did you know that even a one-year-old can be taught to be more patient? The trick is to ALMOST give your child something he wants then:
1) At the last second take it away...and pretend that you suddenly have to do something important (like wash your hands).
2) Then, after a few seconds, turn back and offer it saying "Good waiting! Good waiting!"
Do this 5 times a day to boost your child's impulse control...gradually increasing the time she has to wait to 30-60 seconds...or more!
The Happiest Toddler skills aren't magic, but the CAN stop 50-60% of big upsets...fast. Hear real parents share how these techniques have shortened tantrums from long bouts of crying...to just a few seconds.
Hear parents ask Dr. Karp questions about how to raise healthy, happy toddlers.
Dr. Harvey Karp is a pediatrician and child developmentalist and assistant professor at Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.
He received his medical degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and completed residency at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. He then performed a dual fellowship in Ambulatory Pediatrics and Child Development at UCLA. Following his training, he practiced general pediatrics for 25 years in Santa Monica, California.
His critically acclaimed parenting DVDs/books, The Happiest Baby on the Block, The Happiest Toddler on the Block and The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep are translated into over 20 languages and their popularity has made him America's most read pediatrician. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and is also an authority on breastfeeding and children's environmental health, serving on the board of directors of the Environmental Working Group.
Thousands of Happiest Baby educators teach his baby calming/sleep techniques in hospitals, postpartum depression treatment clinics, child abuse prevention programs, military bases, etc. across the country and in over a dozen other nations. More than 1000 instructors work for departments of health of CO, CT, MA. MN, OK, PA, WY.
Dr. Karp serves on several advisory boards and has received numerous honors for his work. Scholastic Magazine listed among the “Top 10 Influencers on the American Family” and Sharecare named him one of the top Internet pediatric influencers. Lauding his work, the New York Times proclaimed, "Roll over Dr. Spock!"
Dr. Karp lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Nina. Their adult daughter lives in New York City.