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on March 18, 2004
Although the analogy to prehistoric man is overdone a bit, there are so many sensible, clear strategies to try with 1-4 year olds that really are working for us. Talking toddler-ese has really made a difference in the cooperation we are now getting from our 2 and 3 year olds. Mirroring their feelings and "wants" with short, repeated phrases that reflect the child's words, tone and body lauguage has quickly and almost magically stopped much of my toddlers' defiant, annoying behaviors. Karp emphasizes that what you say to someone who is really upset is less important than HOW YOU SAY IT. And his theory has proven itself to be correct in our home.
The only suggestion in the book that I have a problem with is using a hook and eye latch to lock a child in his room even for a very short time-out. I feel this can be scary for the child and although it may get the child to know that you do mean business, I prefer not to get compliance from my children with fear, guilt or humiliation. Karp does suggest that you explain to the child in "toddler-ese" how the locking mechanism works so that he will know the door will not open when mom uses it.
I also recommend another one of my favorite parenting reference books as a compliment to Karp's hardcover book called "The Pocket Parent". This is a very practical, quick read, little paperback book loaded with many positive discipline and communications tips written exclusively for parents of 2-5 year olds. Peppered with humor and organized alphabetically by behaviors such as: Anger, Bad Words, Biting, Bedtime and Mealtime Refusals, the "Gimmees", Interrrupting, Morning "Crazies", and Whining...Pocket Parent is a real sanity saver. Both books will lift your spirits with specific ideas to try as well as loads of compassionte support from authors that have been there, too... especially when you feel you are just about at your wits' end with the little ones.
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on November 13, 2008
Dr. Karp's "Happiest Baby on the Block" book got me through the newborn phase, so this was the first toddler book I went to. It was a very interesting read. His basic premise is that toddlers are little cavepeople: the right side of their brain, which deals with language and logic, is not very developed, while the left side, which is very emotional, calls most of the shots. He talks a lot about how parents have to be an ambassador: keep relations happy, while putting their foot down when it really matters. He divides toddler behavior into three categories: "green light" behaviors, which are positive and should be encouraged; "yellow light" behaviors, which are the annoying but not completely unacceptable things toddlers do (whining, for example); and "red light" behaviors which are unacceptable because they are either dangerous or they disobey a key family rule. He gives a great deal of advice on how to deal with each of these three types.

I thought that this was a very honest book about parenting a toddler, despite the fact that some of the things that he said were rather jarring. Some of his advice is very much in opposite to other books, and what I think most parents think is the "right" way to parent. For example, he really emphasizes making compromises, and in at least one example encourages some white lies. Not exactly the type of advice I expect from a parenting book. But this also made it more realistic than other suggestions I've read about raising a toddler. Toddlers don't have the logic skills of an adult, and realistically you have to pick your battles.

The most interesting part of the book to me, and the main reason I think that this book is worth reading, is about talking at your toddler's level when he or she is upset. Karp points out that parents are usually very comfortable talking in toddler-ese when their child is happy, but when their child is upset they try to talk in a calming voice. This backfires, because they are using complex sentences, long words, and a monotonous voice that can be hard for a toddler to understand. So the toddler gets even MORE frustrated and upset. I thought that his solutions for dealing with this problem were well worth reading.

I haven't read the old edition, so I can't comment on what changes were made.
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on January 21, 2009
The basic gist of the book is that in order to get through to our toddlers' still-developing "cave kid" brains, we need to, first, mirror what they are saying so that they know their feelings and communications have been heard and are acknowledged, and, second, use a particular way of talking that relies on short, repetitive phrases. Sounds simple in a way, but the truth is that this is not a very intuitive way to communicate -- particularly when you're dealing with a child who is very upset. The author points out that our typical response to an upset child is to talk quietly, trying to dissuade or distract the child from the situation -- and that's definitely true as far as my usual strategy . . . until I read this book. I first put the book's technique into action actually when I was still just halfway through the book. My 2 1/2 year old daughter woke up in hysterics at about 2 AM. When I went to her room half-dazed and desperate to calm her, I just reflexively resorted to the technique because I'd been reading about it the prior evening. I started mirroring her emotions with words such as, "You're crying! You say, Mommy hold me! You say, Mommy I'm scared!" As per the book's instructions, I also tried to capture at least some of my daughter's distraught emotional state in my tone of voice and with my gestures. I kept repeating the technique as she progressed through a few demands over the course of 5 - 10 minutes. But, the point is that the situation ended in JUST 5 or 10 minutes (not an hour or more as it has sometimes been in the past). I also remember clearly at one point, as I was mirroring my daughter's woes, she looked me in the eye and said, "Yeah!" She knew that she was being heard! For me, that moment showed me the validity of this technique. Toddler's are pretty smart, but they are emotionally immature ("cave kids") and their language skills are not that well developed. So, when a young child is upset and trying to get her point across, and then the parent responds with soft words that try to diminish the upset rather than acknowledge it . . . of course the kid gets even madder and more frustrated. Here she is screaming her little lungs out trying to get her point across and all Mommy does is try to hush her up. When my daughter responded "Yeah!" to my mirroring statements what I really saw in her eyes was relief: Mommy gets it! Mommy understands what I'm saying! Soon after that point, she let me calm her and put her back in her crib. And as I lay nearby until she fell back asleep, all I could think to myself was, "Oh my gosh -- this stuff works!!" I also want to mention that the rest of the book has a lot of great reminders about how to best communicate with our toddlers so that they feel respected and loved, while we get the essential outcomes we need and want to keep our kids safe and our homes sane. Reading these tips has reminded me that we can get a lot more out of our kids (and really out of life in general) with honey than with vinegar. Our toddlers want to have fun and feel empowered and the path of least resistance is often to let them do both, while still ensuring that essential rules are respected in the household. I appreciate the author's candor in saying that with toddlers a "fair" outcome may be the toddler having it her way 90% of the time, with the parent winning 10% of the time (at least, if we're smart, that's how the toddler will perceive things). So, it's not a 50-50 deal, but I'm okay with that because at the end of the day I know that the 10% stuff is what is really essential for me and my family and the 90% is mostly what being a parent should be about -- spending time playing with and enjoying our kids.
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on August 3, 2009
If you are turning towards parenting books, I've found you need a variety of them in order to find some approaches that may work with your child. This one is good to have in your library, even if everything in the book doesn't work with you. For instance, I think his Fast Food Rule and Toddlerese concepts are good, but I just couldn't get them to work with my two year old. But, there's more to the book than that, it has some great ideas on little things to do to help the day to day life with a toddler. I use a lot of the ideas in the "reward green-light behaviors" chapter, like the star charts, hand checks, and "time-ins". One thing that is good about this book is that he does emphasize positive reinforcement, which I've found does help shape behavior of a willful toddler.
One thing that is annoying is his constant "this book is so great it will help you do this..." and "if you follow my advice, everything will be perfect!" The pages of quotes from parents who used his techniques and had them work "right away" can be frustrating if you've tried the same thing on your kid and it doesn't work. But, like I said, it does contain a lot of different techniques and ideas to try, so it's still worth a read.
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on June 20, 2013
This book is not only unrealistic, but also annoying to read, I tried a few tricks and my son got even more mad each time, not to mention that the books over promises and is TERRIBLY repetitive, the whole book could have been in literally 5 pages. Reading it I had a sense the author must not have any children, and guess what? HE DOESN'T, if I knew that I would have read it, it's simply a joke, my son is not a caveman and I don't need to speak like an idiot to him.

Here's is my version of the famous #1 bestseller;

Chapter 1
Hello dear slow-learning reader, in my book you will find WONDERS, you learn how to magically make your toddler happy and calm, your little caveman will be tamed, and you will love your life, in the first few chapter you'll fall in love with me, and go tell everyone how this book changed your life, in the last chapters you'll learn how to fix every problem any child can and will ever face within 2 minutes, sounds CRAZY I know, but just continue reading and you'll see that I am an amazingly right man, yes you read right, this book is written by a MAN, don't worry, it will work, don't doubt me, I'm a man and I know what I'm talking about.. here we go, ready?

Chapter 2
Hello again frustrated caveman breeder, as I mentioned in the last chapter, by the time you finish this book you'll have a better life, and a much better relationship with your caveman toddler, first, let's learn how to handle any issue at all ever, when your toddler is upset and screaming that he does not want want to shower, do this, SSR and speak his language Whine-ese, here's how, first repeat what he says, whatever he says, repeat it like a parrot, to show u hear him, then speak in little short words like he does, then it is over, magic..

Laura was at the park with her daughter Emma, Emma wanted to take a toy by force from another child, Emma snatched the toy and ran, Laura was embarrassed but said to Emma while stomping her feet like her "no, no, nooooooo Emma wants toy, Emma wants toy now,nooo, but Emma, we no take toys from other cavemen, give, give, GIVE back, now now now" so Emma gave the toy back to the other kid and she NEVER EVER bothered Laura again

Chapter 3
Hello sleep-deprived sorry-looking parent of a caveman, as now you have become an ambassador in the land of cavemen, and you totally mastered their language, let's move on to how you reward the good behavior, first I will tell you that you are already doing an amazing job, then tell you that you are simply doing everything wrong, then correct it all with my magic words, and then you feel good about the $15 you spent on this book, and go get your kid out of the room he has been locked in for 2 hours so that you can read my long-repetitive-long book.
Alright, so your kid actually said "please" once today, let's celebrate, here's what you do, go talk to his dolls about it "Teddy bear I'm SOOOO HAPPY Jack said please to me today, I was so happy I cried for an hour, I'm so happy teddy, so happy that I don't realize I'm talking to a teddy bear, he said "please", Jack said "please", now I know he smacked me after he said it, and he said b***c please, not just "please" but it's okay, he said it" also another way of celebrating, call your friends and brag about him and what he did "Sara, you won't believe it, Jack said please, I was so happy, he is an amzing little boy" now after a few month your friends may stop taking your calls as you call them 24 times a-day to tell them about your caveman saying ok, and thank you, but it's worth it.

Mike and his son Riley were at the beach, Riley let Mike put his sun screen on, so Mike grabbed a mic and started singing and dancing loudly saying "Riley let me put his sunscreen on, I love Riley, Riley made daddy happy, no more crying, no more whining" and Mike did this for an hour while Riley was begging him to stop embarrassing him and just go home, Riley and Mike lived happily ever after.

Chapter 4
Ok, now you are a wonderful parent, not really, I'm just kidding, we haven't even started on the toughest thing yet, TANTRUMS, ok, let's get to it, in the next 2 chapters you'll learn how to be the best parent ever, you'll neve have issues again, these 2 chapters will be the most important thing you ever read, please read them over and over, your life will change forever, life as you know it, BAM, gone, new life, better life, trust me, I'm a man writing a book and I know..ready? here we go...

Chapter 5
When your kid misbehave, put him on time out

Chapter 6
When he comes out of time out, don't talk about the time out

The end.
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on May 8, 2004
After having so much success with the Happiest Baby on the Block calming
techniques, I could not wait to watch The Happiest Toddler on the Block
by Harvey Karp,M.D.

My 22 month old grandson began to scream when I told him it was time to
go inside. I spoke "toddlerese" with much expression as suggested by Dr.
Karp.
I said, " No No No" you do not want to go inside.
He looked at me very surprised.
I said, "No No No" you do not want to go inside.
He looked at me again with his mouth wide open.
I said again, "No No No you do not want to go
inside, but we must take sister to potty."

---------he came with me without protest. In the past he
would have continued screaming for about 5 minutes and
I would have picked him up kicking and screaming.

Now I can't wait to read the book The Happiest Toddler on the Block Book to get
more helpful suggestions for the children in my family and in my
practice.

Phyllis Meer,RN, BSN,CPNP
and proud grandmother of 4.
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on October 11, 2013
In authors as in blind dates, arrogance is a major turn-off. But confidence? When bold claims turn out to be accurate, a legend is born. As I began "The Happiest Toddler on the Block," Harvey Karp's cocksure declarations left me itching to decry him as nothing more than a charlatan. But Karp is the real deal. While the next edition would benefit from more humility - as well as dropping the infomercial speak (e.g., "Now you're ready to join the thousands of parents who have eliminated 50 to 90 percent of their young child's tantrums in less than a week"!) - Karp puts together the best compilation of strategies for dealing with toddlers that I have yet read. Yes, he brazenly points for the center field bleachers; but he makes good. All hail Harvey Karp, the Babe Ruth of parenting writers.

Three primary successes make Karp a heavy hitter in his field: (1) he has a knack for putting words to things successful parents do without much thought; (2) he sets forth clear, achievable best practices while avoiding both absolutes and judgment (e.g., "think of TV like candy: [a] little is okay every so often, but not a steady diet of it"), and (3) he covers almost all the big parenting bases in one reasonably-sized book (combining brain science, disciplinary theory, and practical tips).

"The Happiest Toddler on the Block" presents Karp's wisdom in four parts. The meat - and biggest value offered - comes in parts two and three wherein Karp describes various tips for preventing and dealing with tantrums by addressing green (desirable), yellow (annoying), and red (totally prohibited) behaviors in constructive and creative ways. If you're short on time, skip to this middle chunk of the book.

Only if you have the bandwidth to do it, start with part one. The first thirty-five pages constitute a post-introduction introduction, explaining the reasoning behind Karp's core recommendations: toddlers are different than grown-ups ("[l]ittle kids are a lot like cavemen") in ways that lead to developmentally normal behaviors that are both undesirable and vanquishable with the right approach (parent as "an ambassador from the 21st century to the `uncivilized' little munchkin" rather than "boss or buddy"). Otherwise, part one is pure fluff (albeit soothing fluff like "[n]o one was meant to parent a toddler . . . without a lot of help").

Part two contains Karp's game-winning "connect with respect" approach to calming toddlers: (1) "[w]hoever is most upset talks first; the other person listens, repeats back what they're told, and only then do they take their turn to talk" ("the Fast-Food Rule"), and (2) speak to an emotional child with "short phrases, repetition, and mirroring a bit of your child's feelings" ("Toddler-ese"). Karp explains, "Of course your child must respect you, and you'll have many opportunities to teach her that. But when she's upset, insisting that she wait for you to talk first will make her feel unloved." Moreover, because the logical left side of your child's brain shuts down when she's upset, "instantly tr[ying] to distract" or otherwise engage her simply won't work until after you acknowledge her feelings in a way the right brain can process (i.e., through your tone, expression, and gestures).

So you try this whole "ambassador" thing, translating your kid's behavior into a Toddlerese expression of desire before saying your piece: "Stuey wants ice cream! Ice cream, NOW! Ice cream now, now, now!" ("[Y]ou should try to reflect about one-third of [his] emotional intensity.") Though you feel like a complete ass doing it, he gives you this look - sort of amazed, a bit suspicious - and stops fussing or otherwise losing it. Then you can "gradually return to a more normal way of talking" and try reasoning with or redirecting your kid (on pages 53 and 154, Karp lists strategies: be physical, whisper, give options, explain your point of view, talk about emotions, grant your child's wish in fantasy, etc.). Many good parents do this whole dance instinctively; I got about 80 percent of the way there on my own. But hot damn if that remaining 20 percent didn't change our lives. (Caveat: The effect appears to wear off a little over time; a few months after first introducing it, my son no longer responds to Toddlerese with wonder, instead looking a tad betrayed like, "Let me get this straight: it turns out you always understand exactly what I want and still never give it to me?").

Like the good doctor that he is, Karp doesn't just focus on treating a tantrum; part three expands the focus to prevention, providing parents with guidance on how to respond to all aspects of a child's behavior in a way that minimizes toddler frustration, deprivation, and other wellsprings of tantrums eternal. (I suppose the baseball analogy would be Ruth's pitching prowess as diminishing the need for offensive strength? A stretch, ReadyMommy, definitely a stretch.)

"The best way to help your toddler behave better is to flash a green light of encouragement every time you see him being good." Before I became a parent, I never would've thought anyone needed to spell out the usefulness of positive reinforcement, but I've since witnessed caregivers failing miserably in this arena. Karp doesn't just tell his readers to reinforce desirable behavior, he shows them how step-by-step:

(1) "Time-ins" ("bits of attention, praise, and play") can include a game of make believe, compliments (but "[p]raise the action you want to encourage . . . not the child"), reading a book, "gossip" (when you pretend your kid's not in the room and praise her behavior to a third party, animate or inanimate), and a whole ton of other QT moments. I only identified one novel "time-in," but it's worth reading the whole danged book for this trick alone: "hand-checks." Holy frack, hand-checks. All you do is write a check on the back of your kid's hand with a pen when they do something praiseworthy. My kids EAT. IT. UP. Hand-checks have replaced the extra bedtime books I used to dole out for particularly impressive behavior, saving me time and providing continuous reinforcement throughout the day (every time my daughter looks at her anointed hand - and seriously, you'd think she'd been raised in Rome and the Pope had kissed it - she gets a nudge in the right direction).

(2) Under the heading of "building confidence," Karp suggests asking your children for help with tasks, giving them options, playing the boob (i.e., pretending to be clueless about something and letting your kid correct or instruct you), and letting them work through challenges on their own whenever possible.

(3) In order to "teach patience," Karp discusses "magic breathing" which is essentially his method for getting kids to take deep breaths. In a similarly over-proceduralized manner he introduces "patience-stretching." (I mean, if you're not a complete slave to your kid and/or have more than one child, this technique shouldn't require purposeful effort. There's no need to feign distraction or pretend to prioritize something else on the verge of giving your kid what they want when it happens naturally multiple times a day. Though I suppose Karp's endorsement adds value even for naturals by rendering the whole process guilt-free.)

(4) Like most parenting experts, Karp extols the benefits of predictable routines; he also suggests a few specific additions: "special time" (a short nugget of undivided attention doing something your kid finds fun) and "bedtime sweet talk" (a time to reflect on the day; we do it at the dinner table, but it's the same idea).

(5) Breaking down another parenting favorite, Karp recommends you "plant seeds of kindness" by telling fairy tales or engaging in role play modeling desirable behaviors. (Books are another great source of "side-door" socialization; I highly recommend "Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons").

Straddling those five categories is the recommendation that parents give children "three types of play . . . every day: outside play, creative activity, and reading." (I find myself relying on this list less as a series of action items and more as authorization to relax; if I've taken them outside, done some pretend play, and read to them, I'm good to sit on the couch for a few minutes.)

Wait! There's more?!?! (Yes, I am now officially making fun of his shtick.) Part three circles back to treating (rather than preventing) misbehavior when Karp addresses "[y]ellow-light behaviors[, those] annoying things kids do, like whining, pestering, and dawdling" as well as totally unacceptable "red-light" behavior. In the hope of retaining the interest of the three readers who are still with me at this point, I won't summarize the remainder of part three in exhaustive detail (trust me, the yellow and red sections are as densely packed with helpful strategies as the green). But I can't resist including a few excerpts:

"Here are four tips for effective limit setting: 1. Be reasonable. . . . Remember, toddlers have limited impulse control, so . . . make your home fit for your child, rather than vice versa. 2. Set limits with a KISS (Keep it short and simple!) . . . 3. Be consistent. . . . [Mushy limits often backfire and make kids defy us even more. W]hen you do break your own rules you should clearly state that you're making a temporary exception. . . . 4. Avoid mixed messages. Speaking too sweetly or smiling while you set a limit confuses kids. . . . If you want your child to know you mean business, crouch down (staying just a bit above your child's eye level) and give your message with a deep voice and a serious face."

"You can often avoid power struggles with one simple trick: Tell your child what to do, rather than what not to do."

"In truth, a bit of defiance is not so bad! Most parents want their kids to learn that being tenacious in their beliefs and skilled in their ability to persuade others is a good thing." (I've repeated this idea like my personal mantra since my daughter turned two in 2011.)

"Reverse psychology doesn't teach kids to be disobedient. It's really just another way of playing the boob. Toddlers know it's a game, that's why they love it."

"Giving a fine penalizes your tot by removing a valued privilege or toy." ("Sometimes the `prized possession' you remove is . . . you. This is using kind ignoring [i.e., "a teensy cold shoulder"] as a fine . . . .")

"After your child misbehaves, ask for an apology, but don't insist on one." (Agreed. Producing kids who apologize and mean it is all about parental modeling, not coercion.)

As for the single most important lesson from part three: treat the cause, not the symptoms. "When your child is acting up . . . [perhaps y]ou're giving too little play and attention." (This theory dovetails nicely with Maren Schmidt's reminder to parents that "human behavior is . . . need-driven.") In other words, one approach to dealing with yellow- and red-light behavior is "feeding the meter" with time-ins and other green-light strategies. I love Karp's parking meter analogy and the idea of my undivided attention as a currency in which my kids trade. My impulse is often to say "oh she's done such a great job entertaining herself, let's try to push it for another ten minutes" - which isn't how meters work. If I want more time out of her, I need to buy it by giving her more attention when she's good, not less. Karp's "feeding the meter" technique is also helpful because it leads parents to be more deliberate in the way they mete out attention. I've always given my kids special time, but I didn't label it as such. Now I declare my intention to give it to them, and somehow the purposefulness of it makes them appreciate the same amount of focused time much more.

After any high - especially the type that features a massive injection of energy and creativity, like, say, cocaine or parts two and three of "The Happiest Toddler on the Block" - comes a low. And so it is with part four, an almost totally superfluous tutorial on how to use Karp's basic strategies in specific circumstances (which really ought to be chopped down to a brief FAQ). (It does, however, include one piece of advice that I wish I could tattoo on my forehead when we go to the playground: "You don't necessarily have to intervene in every slugfest your kids have. Small struggles help kids learn to stand up for themselves and be courageous. Besides sooner or later, you will want your kids to learn to settle their differences on their own. So as long as the fight is a yellow-light situation, not a red-light one (that is, it involves bickering and bellowing, but not bleeding), let the kids struggle a bit before you intervene." If only my forehead were a skosh bigger.)

Part four isn't the only bad news. We all know Babe Ruth was not without his flaws - he was no GQ model, for starters. In addition to the infomercial tone and padded parts one and four, Karp leaves a few opportunities untapped and makes one small error.

Let's start with the room for improvement. First, the flip-side of Karp's accessible writing is that it's often plodding and rarely quick-witted; it's hard to see this as a true opportunity missed considering any change would alienate a big chunk of his audience, but still. Second, though Karp encourages parental modeling in various spots (e.g., "finding reasonable compromises teaches kids to be more fair and flexible"), he doesn't explicitly emphasize the import of monkey-see-monkey-do in the parenting context as much as I'd like. Third, in pursuit of the elusive one-book-teaches-all recommendation, I wish Karp had (a) done more with emotion-coaching (like teaching empathy a la John Gottman), (b) referenced the concept of consequence-distinction in combating helicopter parenting (from "Parenting with Love & Logic"), and (c) placed more emphasis on the power of giving kids a means of expression - like words or signs - in eliminating frustration (John Medina does a good job with that one).

Then there's the strikeout. Karp swings and misses when it comes to food because he suggests tit-tit-for-tat routines; offering juice, soda, and ice cream as behavioral rewards or pick-me-ups; and other culinary negotiations ("win-win compromises"). Everything I've read suggests that healthy eaters are raised by parents who give their children space to figure out consumption on their own and don't attach emotions to food whereas both eating disorders and obesity have been linked to power struggles at the childhood dinner table. As one of my daughter's feeding therapists put it, "Your job as a parent is to decide when and what your child eats; their job is to decide how much." Since following this laissez faire strategy has produced two exceptionally adventurous and happy eaters in our household, I'm surprised that Karp endorses micromanaging kids' eating. That said, the book certainly is not about food; yes, Karp fails to hit a homer on this issue, but his batting average still leads the league.

In fact, each one of these critiques just explains why "The Happiest Toddler on the Block" isn't perfect; none of them takes away from its five-star rating and supremacy over the rest. For me, the golden geese are aggressive Toddlerese, hand-checks, and feeding the meter. I'm sure each reader will come away with her or his own pick of life-altering tricks. That - and the fact that Karp and I agree that "the best way to convert a wild child into a happy tot is not with threats and force, but with respect, encouragement, consistency, and play" - is why he gets the top slot. This book is so packed with sound approaches and useful tips that it wins the parenting advice World Series despite its off-putting swagger and other imperfections. Go Yankees!
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on July 18, 2004
My son is 23 months old and definitely in the Terrible Two's stage. I felt helpless, lost and had no control of the situation whenever my son would snap into his "I want it my way" mode, sprawling on the floor. I truly had no idea how to calm my boy down. It was very frustrating. I can be very snap-y at times, but I did not want to be that way with my son. After all, he is just a toddler.
I happened to read a snippet about Dr. Karp's book in The New York Times' Science Times section. When I read about his concept that toddlers are basically Neanderthals, I thought he was definitely onto something (I always referred to my son as Bam-Bam from The Flintstones!). With my interest piqued enough, I ordered the book from Amazon.
After a couple of days, I tried Dr. Karp's Prehistoric Parenting method. I was shocked when after a couple of times repeating "You want mommy. You REAALLLY WANT MOMMY!!", my son stopped his tantrum; looked at me; and simply said, "Sorry!" It was like a revelation.
I love that you don't need to read every chapter in its entirety. When stuff about kids older than 3 years old came up, I went straight to the next chapter, since my son is almost 2.
My only criticism is that a lot of ideas are repeated over to a fault. But I could live with that. Dr. Karp is just trying to reiterate his messages.
Overall, I give this a 5 star rating for the sheer fact that the Dr. Karp's method of Prehistoric Parenting and speaking Toddler-ese really does work!
Do yourself a favor and buy this book. You won't be sorry. In fact, you'll be relieved!
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on September 17, 2004
I am a mother of a 25 month old. Many of my friends who were also parents of toddlers recommended this book. At first, I was very skeptical. I read through it and tried the Toddler-ese and the Fast Food Rule. It worked immediately!!! In fact today, my husband, my daughter and I were at a restaurant. She started to get upset because she wanted me to hold her. My husband talked to her in Toddler-ese and immedatiately she stopped crying! I am very impressed with this book and will recommend it to others!
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on July 12, 2008
Here is my toddler's reaction to the Fast-Food Rule- "I don't want you to act like me!!! I want you to give me/do what I want!!! DO IT! DO IT! DO IT! or I'll throw up!".

I am not here to critique Dr. Karp's book, because after his Happiest baby's 5S calmed my baby miraculously in less than a second, I REALLY wanted him to help me handling my toddlers tantrums, but unfortunately it didn't work. I think there is something wrong in his theory about toddlers. Though I agree that toddlers are really LIKE cavemen and monkeys (mine play only with sticks and stones and DOES look like monkey more often than not) doesn't really mean that they EXPECT us to behave the same. I DID try so many times to mimic my toddler's emotions (I even watched the DVD to be sure I do it all right), but my son not only would NOT calm down, but he would cry even more to the point he'd throw up. It didn't take too long to realize this Rule is not for us. My toddler may be a caveman, but he looks at me as a mature and strong person who will always protect him, warn him about dangers, but most importantly, HELP him deal with emotions not mimic them...I AM fun, when it comes to play, I may act as a caveman, but when it comes to routines (like difficulty falling asleep, leaving the playground) or dangers, I am the one to HELP him and PROTECT him and he expects me to be his SUPER mom, not a caveman!!! So, with time I came with my own rules that work so great that I hardly remember the last time my son had a tantrum and...my rules involve lots of EXPLANATIONS and PROMISES and DISTRACTION, but mostly HUGGING and LOVING, many of those are proved by Dr. Karp to be ineffective.
I admire Dr. Karp and his great discovery about babies longing for the uterus, but that doesn't mean that all babies become the same toddlers and I am sure that back in stone age there have been some difference between cave toddler and cave mother, but Dr. Karp says that when it comes to handling emotions both behave the save. Besides, every toddler has an unique personality. My advise is ... don't waste your time with this book, it won't help you and may confuse you even more. Instead, get to know your toddler and find your unique approach to his/ her unique personality. Another book that I found to be very helpful in my case is "Raising your Spirited Child" - the authors gives different approaches to different spirited children and proved to be effective dealing with tantrums and night waking.
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