Monday, September 29, 2008

The Happiest Toddler on the Block

The Happiest Baby on the Block, by Harvey Karp, is fast becoming a parenting classic, with its sensible talk about helping babies get used to this world by trying to mimic the one they came from--swaddling, babywearing, shhhh noises, etc. So I thought I'd see what the good Doctor had to say about toddlers.

It was...interesting. The main idea, the scientific idea of Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny, is an intriguing one. It says, basically, that an individual animal's growth will mimic the evolutionary changes that the species has passed through.

However. Harvey Karp uses this idea to suggest that the way to deal with your child is to consider your one-year-old as a Neanderthal, by which he means slow, clumsy, and stupid, and so on. And as an anthropologist and a parent I have so many issues with this.

That being said, he has a few good ideas, and the main one is "the McDonald's Drive-Through Request" or something like that. The idea is that you should approach communicating with your toddler the way a drive-through order-taker communicates: repeat their order back to them before you tell them how much they owe you. Hence, if your child wants one thing and you need them to do something else, you need to repeat what they want so they know you understand, and then you can move on. I've found this to be true, since my own child will repeat the same thing over and over and over no matter what you say until you repeat after him, and then he's satisfied because he KNOWS you understand him. =)

So, a few decent ideas, a few really weird and potentially offensive ones? Hm. The Happiest Baby is better, but this has the potential to help parents struggling with toddlers, so I'd recommend it, just ignore the weirdness.

1 comment:

Hobo Mama said...

I like that one idea -- I will have to try it. I know right now that Mikko won't stop signing something unless I repeat back what he's signing, even if it's (to me) completely irrelevant to the matter at hand. I felt Happiest Baby was really helpful and wasn't sure the toddler version would be as practical or simple -- sounds like I was right. I'll take your excerpted wisdom from it, though! :)