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I was given this book way back in 1990, when my eldest son was just leaving babyhood. I thought the first 18 months were tough but nothing prepared me for toddlerhood; suddenly my child was questioning my every move and simple requests were met with a torrent of abuse! I put it all down to jealousy until I was given this book; once I started to read it, I realised that all of his behaviour was quite normal, and that I could look forward to it with child number two (wonderful!!).
**What is Toddler Taming?** The book aims to demystify parenthood, and to boost parents' self confidence and make parenting as much fun as it can be!! The book is divided into 24 chapters, which I will list, to indicate the broad spectrum of topics covered: 1. Confidence is the key 2. What makes Toddlers Tick 3. Behaviour: What is Normal? 4. The Difficult child: Born or Made? 5. Understanding Toddler Behaviour 6. Introducing Discipline 7. Discipline-making Life easier for Yourself 8. The Techniques of Discipline 9. Dealing with tantrums and Other tricks 10. Toilet Training 11. Sleep Problems- the Answers 12. What should Toddlers eat? 13. Feeding Without Fights 14. Nasty Habits in Nice Children 15. Fears, Comforts and Security 16. Sibling Rivalry 17. The Hyperactive Child 18. Playgroups, Nurseries and Early learning 19. Working Mother-Effective Parent 20. In Praise of Grandparents 21. One-Parent Families 22. Tension in Families- Spare the Children 23. The Disabled Child: Behaviour and Discipline 24. Common Toddler Illnesses
There is also an appendix, covering miscellaneous milestones and facts, recommended immunisation, heights and weights and useful names and addresses.
Although the book looks quite weighty, each of the chapters is divided into smaller sub sections, some of which are one paragraph, and there are amusing illustrations throughout. This makes it a really easy book to read either in one go (would any one with a toddler have the time?) or as a reference book, scanning through various chapters as needed.
There is a lot of wise advise in this book to help you to get your child through the first four years of life without going mad. What came out of this for me was the fact that you are not alone (almost every child has "challenging" behaviour at some time) and that this period of their life ends at about four and a half…I knew there was hope!!
The book is obviously too long to go through chapter by chapter, but I want to share some of the main ideas I picked up along the way…
** Age of Unrest** Toddler tantrums are extremely distressing and are a normal part of development, as a child suddenly has a sense of himself and his/her own free will; he is still unable to control situations and so starts to see a sense of unfairness (the start of teenage angst!!) Whilst I was beginning to think that the change in behaviour was my fault, Green suggests that bad behaviour is almost always attention seeking and if they can't get it by fair means, they will resort to any underhand tactics to get that attention they so crave. Green goes on to offer possible solutions to try to modify this behaviour and indeed, throughout the book, when he offers a possible reason he does suggest some ways to modify your own behaviour or gives some ideas of "what to do next". One of the main things he suggests is to give the toddler some responsibility so that he has a sense of justice and to try to limit the offence when he or she is not able to make the choice (It's time for bed now…not a choice!!)
**Sleep** Quite a major issue in our household; we seem to have children who were not naughty at bedtime but who just did not need a lot of sleep. Green gives a lot of ideas to make bedtime easier and for me it was encouraging to find an expert who was not telling me to put my child to bed, close the door, and let them cry themselves to sleep. He takes the best bits of a few ideas and gives a method which promises a 90% chance of cure within a week…it did actually work for us.
**Keep those tummies full** "Food is the fuel that powers our young children". Great- again, a realistic approach. Green suggests we stop making food an issue and don't allow it to become a battle. He takes the guilt away from parents who can't get their children to eat their vegetables, and children who will NOT drink a glass of milk (I have had both types). He advocates that we lead by example and that if children are growing, happy and healthy, then we have little to worry about.
**Discipline** One of the most difficult areas and a chapter to which I frequently turned-isn't every new mum wanting to "do it right"? Green advocates positive parenting to discipline children, and it became quite simple for me to follow: praise good and ignore minor bad behaviour; don't pick fights over issues which can be handled differently; be firm when you need to be. He suggests that toddlers respond well to boundaries because it gives them a sense of safety, but the discipline should not impose too many rules or we will stifle independent thought.
**Poorly Children** Another well thumbed chapter. The chapter deals with most of the common medical problems we may at some time see in children, with a quick description of the symptoms. However, there is again a sensible and laid back approach, when he states that as they grow up the child "goes through a whole series of illnesses, each one apparently more ghastly than the one before". He does have a sub section: when to panic, and it's a comment which made me smile because it's so true… "When mum is worried, I worry. When mum is worried and grandma is worried, I worry a lot!" Great stuff. It's an acceptance that parents know their own children better than anyone…very positive!
**Verdict** I think this book is almost indispensable for anyone with young children; I certainly gained a lot of information from it, and I had done child development as part of me degree. Thought I was quite the expert until I had my own children then realised I knew NOTHING!! This book is like sitting with a friendly family member who knows a lot and is always ready to listen and make suggestions. The tone of the book is not patronising and always there is the feeling that parents and grandparents know best "Grandmas and grandpas are some of our most valuable and least utilised natural resources". Whenever something concerned me, it seemed that there was indeed a subsection to help me out. If I wanted to take the advise I could, if not, it could be discarded. However, there was advice out there, and because the issues troubling me were in the book, I knew that I was not alone. Now with two teenager, I wonder if someone could write a book on Teenager Training, to help me through this stage which is worse than toddler because they are just as self centred and attention seeking but bigger. At least there are no sleep problems!!
I Great book for reference and just for feeling better about your ability as a parent!