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Book Review! The Happiest Toddler on the Block

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

It’s November and we’ve officially made it to Thanksgiving!

This is when family time is ramped up and we may be asked to bring a side dish, or if you’re like me, the rolls! Ha! What is more likely is that you might have to enter into interesting or difficult conversations. I’ve been reading a lot about these in parenting books.

The Happiest Toddler on the Block Review

My favorite book of late is called The Happiest Toddler on the Block (HTOTB) and I bought the DVD, too! It might surprise some of you to know that I’m not great at communicating when it comes to difficult topics or emotions.

In HTOTB, I’ve learned that the person who is the hungriest for attention goes first. It makes sense if you think about how difficult it is to learn something new when your adrenaline is ramped up!

Who wants to hear a lecture when they’re upset? Also included in the book is the Fast-Food Rule. I’ve started implementing this with my daughter.

You will know this technique from the last time you went to the Starbucks drive-thru! You place your order and the team member would repeat it back, to make sure that they got it right. This is the idea behind the fast-food rule!

I feel like Maya can listen to me better after I’ve made sure that I hear her needs first.

Here are some key tips for this technique…

1. Toddler-ese

The aim here is to make sure that you show that you have heard and understood your toddler. You include that they are not going to get what they demand, but also why they cannot have it and any alternatives to their demand you can offer instead.

You do this so that they refrain from getting louder and more dramatic with their requests.

It is important to use simple and clear statements so your child can understand you and then you repeat the phrases several times.

This is what I have been practicing with Maya, for example…

“Maya wants! Maya wants! Maya wants coffee now! Maya wants coffee now! But no, Mama says no! Mama says no! And Maya is mad at Mama! Mama can give Maya milk. Would Maya like milk?”

2. Make sure that your guess is right

Toddlers are very expressive, so normally you can figure out what it is they want. Sometimes, however, you can get it wrong and you will find they are not calming down at all. It could be that you have misinterpreted what their want or their need is, so try a different statement about a different need and see how it goes!

3. Use fantasy where you can!

In the first example, if I wished, I could have taken it to a more dramatic level if I felt that is what Maya needed. I could have thrown in a bit more fantasy and enthusiastic fun to calm her down.

Changing the statement slightly, it could have gone a little more like this:

“Maya wants! Maya wants! Maya wants coffee now! Maya wants coffee now! But no, Mama says no! Mama says no! And Maya is mad at Mama! Mama wishes she could give Maya coffee! Mama wishes that she could give Maya all of the coffee in the world! And Maya and Mama could swim in the rivers of coffee! Wouldn’t that be fun?”

After you have got to the peak of your statement, quickly move on to something else with the same fun and enthusiasm, which will leave your toddler well and truly distracted from the thing they were asking for at first.

I love this book so much and think we could all benefit from learning a bit of toddler-ese. If you want to be a more effective communicator and listener, it really gives some great advice. I personally use this book every day, even though I feel a bit silly sometimes. But when I use toddler-ese in public, it works! I’d rather be the Mom that talks to her child with baby talk than the Mom who is yelling to gain some semblance of control!

Can you think of a situation in life where todder-ese would benefit your communication?

The Happiest Toddler on the Block is available from all good bookstores and Amazon where you can buy the book or the DVD.

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