Chronicles Of A Father With Cents

Simple Life. Personal Finance. Family

Book Review: The Happiest Toddler on the Block

It's Leave the Office Early Day.

This is the first of a series of books that I will review. Here is my book review on:

Happiest Toddler in the Block by Harvey Karp MD
When Baby With Cents turned 15 months, he started to cry a lot more especially when he didn’t get what he wanted.  He even cried so hard that he vomited on a few occasions. So after getting discouraged from his cries I decided to look for a book that would help in some way to control it. When I found ‘The Happiest Toddler in the Block’ in my search, lots of reviewers gave it good ratings. So I decided to give it a read.
What is this book about?
Happiest Toddler in the Block details the ways toddlers starting from age one to four create tantrums and tells parents the best ways to deal with it. Karp breaks down the various tantrums toddlers have, ways to connect with your toddler with respect, and how to handle their behavior whether with its good, annoying or bad.

The Happiest Toddler on the Block


Points that stuck out in the book
Toddlers have a caveman like mindset – In the beginning of the book, Karp lays out that you have to know your toddler has primitive behaviors when dealing with them. The grunting, pointing, and biting are expected from them because they are not civilized. It is up to us parents to teach them about manners, patience and worry about others. But for now we have to know they are like cavemen living in our world. The author is wants to reader to prepare for such behaviors and not act so surprised at your toddler’s temperament.
The Fast Food Rule– Karp describes this connecting factor, the Fast Food Rule. This rule means talking to your toddler when he/she’s upset, always repeat what they are feeling and then offer your advice. Karp calls this the ‘Fast Food Rule’ because when you are at a fast food drive thru, the customer tells the employee what they want to order then the employee repeats what they ordered, and then when everything is set the customer drives forward and gets their order. It’s all about communication, you want your toddler to know that they can show their feelings especially when they are upset at you because you will be able to understand why they are mad and give a solution. I will keep rule in mind when BWC gets a bit older and able to communicate better and believe it’s a great communication skill to use
Toddler-ese – Another communication skill Karp has in the book is a term called Toddler-ese. This technique is somewhat a piece from the Fast Food Rule where you translate what your toddler is trying to say to you. Karp describes three steps for Toddler-ese: short phrases, repetition, and copying your toddler’s feelings. Instead of saying ‘You want that milk?’ you would tell your toddler ‘Milk! Milk! You want milk now.’ This is an example the book describes as Toddler-ese, it speaks to your toddler’s language to which they will understand. Another point to add, when trying to speak Todder-ese the parent should have facial expressions, use body language like waving and pointing, and have a lower tone of voice. I have actually used this technique on BWC and I am happy to report that it works well. I used the milk example on him when he wanted to drink milk and added the sign language for milk (opening and closing your hands constantly) and he calmed down until I could give him his milk.
Closing Thoughts on Happiest Toddler on the Block
The rest of the book covers the toddlers’ basic behaviors that are good, annoying and bad and ways to deal with it but the heart of the book was about the toddler’s behaviors with the Fast Food Rule and Toddler-ese. Those two communication techniques blend into their behaviors and help how to deal with it especially when the toddler has bad behaviors.
It is a book I recommend for parents with kids at this age because it’s a good guide to help to deal with your kid’s behavior. Karp is a child-development expert so he knew with dealing with hundreds of toddlers how to solve most of their tantrums. I will revisit this book again when BWC turns three and communicates better by understanding more words and phrases.


  1. Thank’s for the review! We’ll be moving into this stage soon so it’s good to have a few arrows in the quiver for leaning how to deal with the inevitable tantrums.

  2. Wow, I had no ideas that there were books on tantrums for children that young! Just goes to show how clueless I am- the Fast Food Rule sounds really interesting. I’ll definitely keep this in mind for my friends with kids

    • Yeah Ying the Fast Food rule was very intriguing to read about. Trying to talk to your baby’s level about what their feeling seems logical but according to the author you have to be patience because they will cry the first few times but when you keep repeating this method the baby will eventually calm down and cooperate. I will definitely try this method on Baby with Cents.

  3. Wow, the caveman analogy makes sense. Never thought of it that way!

  4. Tim Kim @ Tub of Cash

    July 31, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I heard that “toddlereese” and/or “baby talk” was bad for the toddler, and one should just speak normally; because then, they wouldn’t learn how to form sentences together. Not sure where I heard it from, and not sure if there’s any validity to it. So this is a different take. We try to talk to our son as well, but it’s tough when he’s bawling his eyes out and throwing a fit. I sometimes get the feeling he’s becoming spoiled =( and I get exasperated fairly quickly so I typically just let him have his little tantrum.

    • I heard baby talk was bad as well before reading the book Tim. Probably not suggest using Toddler’ese all the time when babies are having tantrums but just in doses so the baby would not be attached to hearing it all the time. Mixing in facial expressions and baby sign language are great communication skills as well to use when they are having their tantrum.

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