While I appreciate the author’s gentle parenting techniques and think her advice is valuable, personally I did not learn much new from reading this book. I might recommend it to someone who has never lived through the toddler years and was specifically looking for a book about this age group, but generally speaking, I think most people with toddlers can skip it.
Title: How Toddlers Thrive: What Parents Can Do Today for Children Ages 2-5 to Plant the Seeds of Lifelong Success
Author: Tovah P. Klein
Publication Year: 2014
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Review: I read this book as part of a book club with a couple of my friends whose only children are definitively toddlers. It’s not the type of parenting book I would have selected for myself anymore, since I feel pretty capable handling toddlers at this point, though I enjoy reading parenting books and have read several books of this type.
Overall, I completely agree with the author’s point of view regarding toddlers and I feel like this book was well-written. It just didn’t cover anything new or enlightening as far as I’m concerned. If I weren’t reading it chapter-by-chapter to discuss with friends, I probably would have just skimmed it. If you have never lived through the toddler years before or read anything about them, then this would be a good, thorough place to start. However, the most useful concept I got out of this book was that she considers a 5 year old a “toddler.” While I wouldn’t apply that label to my 5 year old, it was helpful for me to be reminded that he can still be as needy and inflexible as my younger children, and that I should do my best to be more patient and understanding.
While there are many useful points in this book, I feel like a whole book on them was overkill. Much of the useful information of this book is summarized in the conclusion (which is much quicker to read). For example, some of the advice I agree with is to resist micromanaging your child and helping with tasks they can do themselves. Also, parents should allow children plenty of time to play freely, since playing is learning. I also agree that parents should resist praising children too much, so that they can enjoy the satisfaction they get themselves for accomplishing a task. Also, allowing them to be bored is important for their developing natural creativity and curiosity.
One of the points I do not agree with completely is her encouragement not to push kids to share. I agree that I never truly expect my kids to share willingly and eagerly since they are still very young. However, she did not convince me that I shouldn’t let them know that there is an expectation. I believe that most kids are capable of sharing without drama at 2. There are case-by-case exceptions depending on how tired, hungry, or overwhelmed the child is feeling and how desirable the object of contention is. If the child has closely-spaced siblings, they don’t really have a choice. Sharing is just a way of life (though I admit that I keep telling myself and my kids that mostly for my sanity).
I also did not really whole-heartedly agree with her discussion of nighttime parenting. She leans a little more toward the cry-it-out method than I personally have used with my own kids. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with her methods or even more rigid nighttime parenting techniques, necessarily. I do truly think all kids turn out okay for the most part regardless of how their parents treat them at night. However, I don’t think that a more lenient, relaxed approach is necessarily as bad as she implies. I disagree with her assertion that kids don’t outgrow sleep difficulties on their own. In my experience, they do.
Overall, I appreciate the author’s gentle, patient parenting approach and honestly, I can’t think of a better book specifically for the toddler years. It just didn’t have a large impact on my parenting philosophies or practices since I’ve read similar ideas in many other places. Maybe if I’d read it earlier in my parenting journey, I would have found it a lot more valuable. (Personal Rating: 7/10)