Book Review: The Happiest Toddler on the Block

I know that I paint a picture of Indie as if he is the perfect little angel, but we do have toddler moments.  Some weeks are worse than the others.  It was during a particularly bad week that I decided to pick up the book The Happiest Toddler on the Block.

Overall I would say it’s a good book and has some good ideas/strategies.  Eric and Indie have a good give and take relationship where Indie understands that Eric means business.  I, on the other hand, am a complete and total push over who just wants my baby to be happy in hopes that he’ll return love and cuddles on the couch.  This makes him more prone to throwing fits when I’m around.  Kind of backfired… So I needed some strategies. 

I don’t agree with everything in this book.  For example, I don’t agree with the time out strategy.  I’m not going to put a latch on the outside of Indie’s door to keep him in during time out.  In fact, he doesn’t get to go in his room during time out because he’ll just play.  We sit silently and still in the chair for time out in this house.

Otherwise I like the other strategy suggestions.  Here are some examples of things I’ve tried from the book.

  • Mirroring and acknowledging emotions.  When Indie gets upset, I talk him through his emotions in toddler talk (which will make you feel silly).  If he’s mad because he can’t play with my cell phone I’ll say “Indie is mad mad mad.  He wants mommy’s cell phone, but no. so he is mad mad mad”  It seems likes mocking, but it’s not if you don’t have a mocking tone.  This works sometimes and sometimes he decides to just amp it up to prove to me he is more upset.  The book is like you’ll be amazed how fast your child stops their fits.  So far I haven’t been amazed but I don’t feel as powerless.  I also have a stubborn, free thinking, independent, spirited (according to the book) child so if your child is more of a follower this might work better 🙂 (just kidding about that last remark – if your child fits into the “easy” category this will probably work easy peasy, if you have a “sensitive” child you need to keep your level of emotion down so you don’t hurt their feelings (according to the book anyways).
  • Lovingly ignore: this is Eric’s trick of the trade.  When Indie is being naughty, just ignore him.  If he’s throwing a fit about wanting something, just don’t acknowledge the fit.  Once the fit is over, normal activity proceeds. I am learning to use this one as it has worked so well for Eric.  However, Indie has more propensity to attach himself to my leg as i try to walk away.
  • Gossiping: oh I love this one!  Basically “gossip” aka tell someone or something else about how good your kiddo has been.  On Saturday and Sunday Indie was a fantastic kiddo so I told Eric how good he was (in front of Indie) and then I whispered to Indie’s stuff dog about how good he was that day. Whispering is a good one for this because kids think that everything that’s whispered and secret is way better than anything told in a normal voice.

There are a few more things that I’m going to try from the book.  I’ll update you on how those are working when we give them a shot. I think the bulk of this book is useful information.  But don’t expect a magical change overnight.  I think the book kind of sets itself up to be like and magically you will have a perfect angel.  If you have a strong willed child, you will always need to work with them, if you have a sensitive child, you will always need to work with them, if you have an easy child they will still have meltdowns and you will need to work with them.  There is no silver bullet.  You are teaching your child to be civilized and since we as humans still struggle with that on a daily basis after billions of years, it’s going to take more than a weekend to civilize a toddler.

I definitely pick and choose strategies (from any child related book) to what I think will work best for Indie and what Eric and I agree with that lines up with our parenting beliefs and strategies.  If anything I just feel better because I feel like I have some strategies in my back pocket for when things get rough.  Overall I find it best to simply reward and encourage good behavior and try to ignore the bad unless someone is throwing everything out of my cart at Target and screaming at the top of his lungs, I’m all for strategies to prevent that situation.

And now I’m going to get off my soapbox and see if I can’t convince Indie that he does want to get out of bed. 🙂


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Filed under book review, Indie

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