Solutions for taming a toddler
Dr. Karp, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of California, Los Angeles, is best known for his book, The Happiest Baby.
Now he is focusing on turning tantrum-prone toddlers into easy to manage human beings with his latest work, The Happiest Toddler.
Toddlerdom is an "explosive period of development when children learn language, motor skills and problem solving, among other things", reports The New York Times. And this is the major cause of frustration for a growing brain, resulting in a tantrum.
"The challenge for parents is learning how to communicate with the caveman in the crib. “All of us get more primitive when we get upset, that’s why they call it ‘going ape,’ ” Dr. Karp says. “But toddlers start out primitive, so when they get upset, they go Jurassic on you.”
Dr Karp's Method
When coping with a wailing, demanding, abusive toddler, don't respond with rational or practical words. instead just tell the screaming child what they want to hear.
"It involves bringing yourself, both mentally and physically, down to a child’s level when he or she is upset. The goal is not to give in to a child’s demands, but to communicate in a child’s own language of “toddler-ese.”
- Repeat the very words the child is using, over and over again.
- Use short phrases with lots of repetition
- Reflect the child’s emotions in your tone and facial expressions.
For instance, a toddler throwing a tantrum over not getting a lolly at the supermarket might scream, “I want it. I want it. I want lolly.”
You, being the nice parent you are, might say soothingly: “Honey, you can't have the lolly because you haven't had your lunch.”
Such a response will, almost certainly, make matters worse.
“It’s loving, logical and reasonable,” notes Dr. Karp. “And it’s infuriating to a toddler. Now they have to say it over harder and louder to get you to understand.”
Instead, Dr Karp advises to repeat the very words your wailing toddler is screaming at you, with that same soothing tone:
“You want it. You want it. You want the lolly." You repeat, ‘Lolly, now. Lolly now.’ ”
This is a version of the tried and true method of active listening that adults use. Its aim is not simply to repeat words but to make it clear that you hear someone’s complaint. “If you were upset and fuming mad, I might say, ‘I know. I know. I know. I get it. I’m really really sorry. I’m sorry.’ That sounds like gibberish out of context,” Dr Karp says.
On his DVD, Dr. Karp demonstrates the method. Within seconds, teary-eyed toddlers calm and look at him quizzically as he repeats their concerns back at them. Once the child has calmed, a parent can explain the reason for saying no, offer the child comfort and a happy alternative to the original demand.
Sometimes, excessive tantrums can signal an underlying health problem, so parents with a difficult child should consult with a pediatrician.
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This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot.
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