Shortly after arriving at the table, my family begins to eat. Within minutes, my 2 year old begins to squirm and attempts to get down. He slides the plates away, almost spilling drinks and knocking over bowls and other table settings. Does that scenario sound familiar?
Or how about this story?
My toddler and I arrive at the playground and soon he is making new friends. One of which is a girl wearing a cute white fuzzy coat. The mother of the child and I talk about our kids, teeth, and a variety of other toddler topics. As the two children get to know each other, my 2 year old feels her soft coat and they babble “hello” to one another. Then, with one sudden strong push, the girl falls to her back, causing her nice soft coat to be soiled. The girl begins to cry and as the child is scooped up into the mother’s arms, I begin apologizing and lecturing my two year old on proper playground etiquette.
I do not know Tovah Klein, but after hearing her speak at Barnard Center for Toddler Development and reading her new book How Toddlers Thrive, I get the feeling that if she was monitoring my child during these incidents, she would assure me that it isn’t that big of a deal. That testing their environments and family dynamics are how toddlers learn.
As I read the book, I was impressed with how Ms. Klein, a Child Psychologist, discusses raising toddlers in easily understood terminology and makes it applicable to my current state of parenthood. She also references neuroscience without making the studies and findings fly over my head. I have read many books by child psychologists and educators, and too often feel that the authors are bloviating about their knowledge instead of passing it on. Reading How Toddlers Thrive, I could tell that Klein cares not just about children, but also their parents.
There were many things I took from the book. One of the things was insight into the power struggles that I have with my toddler. Sometimes, I can forget that his mind is rapidly growing and that pushing boundaries is his way of finding where the boundaries are. Those moments are most stressful at meal times and when we were going somewhere. But as Ms. Klein points out, those are the moments when my toddler has power. He has a say in those moments. But I’m the one who makes all the decisions, and he wants to voice his opinion as well. His curiosity, passion, independence, persistence, and desire to know everything may annoy me when it comes during a rushed moment, but later on in life, those are the characteristics that I want flourishing in him.
Even those this is the third time I’ve lived through the toddler years, I still gained a better understanding of raising toddlers after reading the book. I also came away with the desire to be more patient with my toddler. I can’t recommend this book enough to those that are raising toddlers. As I have said before, I read a lot of parenting books. How Toddlers Thrive is the best book on raising toddlers that I have read.
Another version of this post can be found on the NYC Dad’s Group website. You can find that post by clicking here.