Friday, July 10, 2009

The Happiest Toddler on the Block

On the rare occasion I have the opportunity to peruse the library shelves for books, I usually head straight for the new books section. I simply don't have the time (and the kids don't have the patience) for searching the general fiction shelves. I love the new book section because it includes new fiction and non-fiction. Generally, I select books online and put holds on them, but our family decided to visit the library Monday evening for Family Home Evening. Tim and I alternated reading with Ella in the children's section and looking for our own books. (For some reason, Ezra came with me both times...hmm)

While searching the shelves, I came across the book, "The Happiest Toddler on the Block" by Harvey Karp. I thought, "Why not?" and put it in the pile. Once the kids were in bed, I had a some spare quiet time to begin reading. I felt immediately encouraged by the author's ideas. This book intends for parents to implement strategies today and can truly be read in small increments and utilized after each reading. The author suggests simple, straightforward ways to communicate with your toddler and create a more positive environment.

Truthfully, I think I love this book because it helped remind me why I love being a parent. With the birth of Ezra, I suddenly found myself looking at Ella and thinking, "She's not little anymore." We were constantly saying, "You're a big girl now." But the truth is, she's not a miniature adult. Ella is still so new to this world, trying to figure new things out everyday. Karp points out that toddlers are losing all day long - they're smaller, less coordinated, shorter, and unable to do many things on their own. But they don't have to feel like losers at home. Through positive techniques, you can create an environment where everyone wins.

I've found that the most important thing I've gained from this book is to focus on being a more thoughtful parent. We've been struggling with temper tantrums and power struggles lately. After trying some of the strategies in this book for just a few days, I can see a change in our relationship. This is not to say that Ella and I weren't close or loving in the past. Karp's suggestions have simply helped me learn how to communicate better, show more patience, demonstrate respect, and find ways for things to be win-win. As I've been more thoughtful in my approach to parenting, we're both happier and enjoying ourselves more.

Tim has also been a patient listener as I've shared ideas from this book and my experiences trying them out. One of my favorite things about Tim is that he might not pick up a book like this, but he's sincerely interested because I'm engaged in it. He even told me last night that he and Ella tried night-time sweet talk where you talk about all of the good things that happened in your day. I have loved "gossiping" about the wonderful things Ella does (to Dad, Grandma, and her ducks), as recommended by the book.

No book can replace our instincts as a parent or solve all of our parenting dilemmas, but this book came to my attention right when I needed a positive boost. Reading Karp's enthusiastic suggestions helped me feel renewed and excited. He suggests starting these strategies about 10 months and I look forward to trying them with Ezra!

1 comment:

Heller Family said...

sound like just the book I need!!