How Toddlers Thrive – Book Review

Raising a toddler might be one of the hardest, yet most rewarding jobs on the planet. In preparation for full blown toddlerhood, I recently read How Toddlers Thrive by Tovah P. Klein, PhD and picked up a ton of useful information. Tovah is a child psychologist and director of the Barnard Center for Toddler Development – I think it’s fair to say she knows a thing or two about toddlers. Despite her immense knowledge, the book is incredibly approachable and easy to read. I often felt like I was having a conversation with Tovah directly while reading the book. How Toddlers Thrive really opened my eyes and has made me a more sympathetic parent during the difficult times of raising a toddler.

How Toddler Thrive

How Toddlers Thrive 

I can’t do Tovah a justice by trying to rewrite her book, so in my own words I will say the book emphasizes the importance of the toddler years {ages 2-5} and how gaining a toddler’s point of view can help make day-to-day life smoother. The book is segmented in two parts, the first focuses on understanding the developing mind of a toddler and the second focuses on “cracking the toddler code” for every day behavior. Additionally, Tovah provides a ton of practical advice by way of situational examples and a list of “Fifteen New Seeds for Success” which are woven throughout the book and based on more than twenty years of experience working with toddlers and parents.

My Favorite Takeaways 

Some of my favorite quotes and takeaways from How Toddlers Thrive:

  • Toddlers lack a sense of time and therefore rely on adults to set up the organization of their day
  • “Consistency helps ground toddlers.”
  • “What your child eats over a seven-to-ten-day period is what matters, not what they eat at any one meal or day.”
  • …”But if we understand the impact of our responses on our children, and if we understand why they may react as they do, then we are better equipped to help them learn about and manage their emotions, handle disappointment, tolerate negative feelings, and learn to experience them so they can move on.” 
  • The paradox of a toddler: “I want you – I don’t want you.” “I want to do this myself – I want you to help me.” “Leave me alone – Wait! Don’t leave me.” 
  • ..”Once they have hit the meltdown point, the best you can do is let them have the tantrum, and never laugh or shame them for it. This level of anger is actually frightening to them, too. They are literally beyond control themselves, their brains are overwhelmed, and they count on you to keep them safe.
  • ..“don’t expect kids this age to share willingly, genuinely, or generously…they just don’t get it yet. They are not being rude or selfish. They simply cannot understand in any real or sincere way. Their brains do not yet have that capacity.” 

In particular, the rationale about how toddlers lack the ability to share is monumental, I can’t tell you how many times I told my daughter to share without understanding her limitations. The book is filled with scientifically proven theories and years of experience and wisdom – it’s been incredibly helpful as I begin to navigate the world of toddlerhood.

I am SO excited to give away a copy of How Toddlers Thrive to one lucky reader! Whether you are in the midst of raising a toddler yourself, know someone who is, or want to gift new parents with wisdom, enter the giveaway below!

Good Luck!

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19 Responses to How Toddlers Thrive – Book Review

  1. Allison September 8, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

    The temper tantrums! I feel like you are always being judged in public as to how you handle them–they are the absolute worst! I’ll take a picky eater over a constant temper tantrum (er) any day!

    • Anna Julien September 9, 2014 at 8:57 pm #

      Thanks for commenting Allison! I totally agree, no matter how patient you are it’s still frustrating and hard to handle with an audience!

  2. Heather September 8, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

    The second we figure something out, they switch it up on us! That’s the hardest part!!!!

    • Anna Julien September 9, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

      Thanks, Heather! You’re so right, just when we think we’ve figured something out! 🙂

  3. © Keryn Means/ walking on travels September 8, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

    For me it is helping them understand that just because they are screaming or crying what they want doesn’t always mean I can understand. We need to work together to figure it out. Sometimes SHOWING me is better than screaming that you don’t have it yet.

    • Anna Julien September 9, 2014 at 8:59 pm #

      So true Keryn, I struggle with that myself. My daughter relies so heavily on making noises at this point to communicate but it drives me nuts! 🙂

  4. Kara Suro (Our Whole Village) September 8, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

    For me the trickiest part is the screaming/screeching! Both of my kids were screechers, sometimes to communicate and other times just because they felt like it. It’s so hard sometimes to keep calm and patient while they work it out!

    • Anna Julien September 9, 2014 at 9:00 pm #

      Thanks, Kara! I can only imagine with two, my daughter alone exhausts me! 🙂

  5. Nicole Wiltrout September 8, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

    Hearing that the level of emotion during a tantrum scares them is pretty eye opening. Never thought about that before.

    • Anna Julien September 9, 2014 at 9:01 pm #

      Thanks Nicole, isn’t that interesting? Tovah’s book is filled with info like that, some of it is common sense but most of it isn’t!

  6. Diana Cote September 8, 2014 at 7:34 pm #

    The whining and pouting. We do everything we can to work with her but it gets tiring. I know she’s only little but those really get to us.

    • Anna Julien September 9, 2014 at 9:02 pm #

      Thanks Diana! It’s so true, my daughter is the same way and generally there’s no rationale either way. You would like Tovah’s book! 🙂

  7. Jodie September 9, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    I’m just entering the toddler phase (my daughter is 20 months old), but so far the trickiest part is when she knows exactly what she wants but doesn’t yet have the language to tell me. We’re learning together how to best communicate.

    • Anna Julien September 9, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

      Thanks Jodie! I am right behind you, my daughter is 19 months. It can be frustrating to watch them struggle to communicate. Tovah’s book was helpful for navigating our future! 🙂

  8. Sara September 9, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

    My son is only one, but I’m having the hardest time with whining/fussing/crying when I’m doing something to help, and as fast as I can – food prep, diaper changes, getting dressed, etc.

    • Anna Julien September 12, 2014 at 5:59 pm #

      Thanks Sara! I can totally relate, listening to the fussing might be the hardest part – especially when there is little to fix the situation! Hang in there 🙂

  9. Maria September 11, 2014 at 10:51 am #

    Uhm.. the trickiest part of raising a toddler is letting them roam/explore while limiting their environment to avoid overstimulation and, of course, safety hazards.

    • Anna Julien September 12, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

      Thanks Maria! You are so right, I struggle with letting my daughter “go after it” at the park – so much going on!


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