I picked the book, “How Toddlers Thrive” by Dr. Tovah P. Klein, for my report. This was a great book that gave not only a lot of insight as to what goes on inside a toddler’s mind but the reasons behind the way they act as they do. Dr. Klein was able to take the reasons that children misbehave, and by getting to the root of why they are acting that why, and give practice advice for dealing with a toddler.
The book was broken up into two parts. In the first part, it was all about getting into the mind of a toddler, to understand why they are doing what they do, and shame. Dr. Klein, I think described the changes that a child is going through between the ages of 2-5 best, she said, “sometimes they feel in control of the big world they have just become a part of and are eager to explore and get to know, and sometimes they are completely overwhelmed by this same world, which can lead to feelings of anger, worry, fear, or a need for comfort” (Klein, pg. 6-7). The first part of this book dug deeper into this, giving examples of behaviors that are related to the children being overwhelmed, but also gave examples of the kids that felt in control.
The practical ways to apply this to life is what I think I liked best about the book. There was the scientific reasoning behind behaviors, such as the growth that was going to the child, but there were ways to handle it day to day. For example, putting a little one to bed and them having a meltdown. She explained how to a child it is like you are telling them that they are being excommunicated from everyone else. Children are smart, they know that their parents are still awake, and to them, it is as if they are being told that everyone is going to stay up and have fun, while they are going into a dark and scary room.
The other topic that was largely covered in the first section of the book was “shame”, and how it will affect not one a toddler in a moment, but throughout their entire life. A point that was made that I thought was extremely interest was how when an adult does not let a child do something for themselves, such as get dressed, open something or anything that they are going to need to be able to do in life, they are telling the child that they are not good enough, which is something that I honestly thinks has a lot to do with how busy our lives are today. A lot of people try to do things as quickly as possible, but for a toddler, something as simple as getting dressed is obviously going to take them a little more time. When an adult steps in with the, “here, just let me do it” attitude, that 2-year-old is being told that they are not good enough, even if that was not the intended message. Dr. Klein talks about how this can lead to the inability to self-sooth. “If a child is made to feel bad for having negative thoughts, behaviors, or emotions, how would she being to manage these hard emotions?”(Klein, 74) I thought this was an extremely good point, by not letting this kids figure out how to problem solve on their own, we are not giving them tools that they are going to need later in life. They are going to get extremely frustrated when they have to do something on their own, and it will be blown out of proportion because they were never taught how to handle it.
Since the first part was about what is going on in their mind and their feelings, the second part was about solutions for daily life and how we interact with kids in a way that is helping to give them the foundation to build lives skills that they will need. A big section was focused on teaching kids to manage the negative emotions that they will feel. “Our role as a parent is to help children become better able to understand and navigate negative emotions, over time” (Klein, 143). To become successful adults, children are going to need to know how to handle their emotions. A parent is not doing their child any favors by putting them in a bubble and not letting them experience anything bad, that would be setting them up to fail when they are older, but it is teaching them how to handle their feelings, as well as being there to coach them through the bumps that will happen in life. By teaching a child how to handle the feelings of hurt that come from a friend not wanting to play with them when they are 5, they are teaching them coping skills that will follow them into adulthood. Kids don’t need adults to make them happy around the clock, they are capable of doing that themselves, so by trying continuously to make them happy, while not looking at or dealing with what is making them upset, you are not doing them any favors later in life.
After reading this book I feel like I have gained a lot of knowledge it the development of a toddler. I have never thought about what shame will do to them, and I know that I am guilty of stepping in to try and hurry situations along. All that toddlers think about is that moment in time, they are not thinking about the future, which is why there are adults around them to do it for them. We have to teach kids how to manage their emotions in a way that will cause them to grow, not make them feel like we do not care about them. Dr. Klein did a great job of explaining this, but in a way that was able to reach people who did not have a Ph.D. but the preschool teacher who is trying to handle the energetic 3-year-olds in her class.
Klein, T. P. (2014). How Toddlers Thrive. New York, NY: Touchstone.
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