Monday 20 February 2012


When it comes to having a toddler, parents can become utterly desperate when their once sweet, agreeable offspring hits that stage when they start to resemble a stubborn, tantrum throwing cave dweller (no, I'm not talking about teenagers). You hear about this stage all the time from parents that have survived it (they all have that look in their eye, like, ‘god help you’). You tell yourself that your child will pass through it with flying colors and you and your partner won’t have a kid that chucks himself on the ground at the supermarket; and yet there is that little voice in the back of your head that is laughing OH SO loudly at your naiveté.

In our case, the King has indeed hit that willful stage of ‘I will do what I want, just you try and stop me.’ So like any parents looking for answers, we talked to those that have been in the trenches and went on the Internet in search of book suggestions for weathering the storm. Admittedly, I found a book that pledged to turn my obstinate wee one into the ‘happiest toddler on the block’ and meanwhile, turn me into the toddler whisperer. Bingo, sign me up (total sucker)! As a pediatrician wrote the book, I figured that he must know his way around toddlers. Not to mention, the reviews were glowing, ‘my little Tommy after ten seconds stopped having tantrums and is now an utter dream.’ (I am currently smacking myself for my moment of weakness).

So the premise of the book is to apply this Doctor’s method, which incorporates his Fast Food Rule (or FFR) of communication, whilst using a special language he calls ‘toddler-ese.’ In short, he believes that when you’re dealing with people who are upset you treat them like a drive thru person at a fast food joint would (burger and fries with your rage?); In short, you let them do all their talking first, or in the case of our toddler – mad, angry babbling; then you repeat what they have said back to you, so they really know you understand and they feel validated (not sure how one does this when one’s toddlers main words are Bub bub and badaabaa baaaa) and then finally, you use toddler-ese to get your point across (think, short, staccato sentences that toddlers will understand); and you must do this he says, in the same emotive quality that they do. So you really let them know that you emphasize with their pain.

Do you want an example of this?? You know you do…okay, picture this, the King and I are out in public and he flips his lid because he doesn’t want to share his car with a boy at the park. And he’s screaming his head off, holding onto the car in question as if his life depends on it. Doctor Toddler Whisperer claims this is what I do….I get down to the King’s level and I say in short, bursts of emotive language: “The King is mad. Mad Mad, want car. Car car mine, King want car!!!” By now the entire park is most likely watching me, thinking I’m a deranged idiot. This is supposed to stop him in mid tantrum due to my overwhelming empathy for his plight. Then I’m supposed to use this moment of calm to explain that he must share his toys in short sentences: 'Sharing, good. tantrums, bad. Me, Cave Mother.' 
And this apparently my friends, is how to stop a tantrum in its tracks.

But wait, I’m not finished yet…and you thought you couldn’t look more like an idiot. OH, but you can. To solidify that you are totally certifiable, he suggests that you institute a scolding method when your child exhibits 'red light' behavior, that includes clapping loudly whilst growling at your child. Yes, you heard me, GROWLING. When I told my partner this we both started laughing so hard at the mere vision of me at the museum chasing after the King clapping and growling like some deranged lion as I hollered the words, “King mad, no no, King want juice, now-mad-juice!”

And yes, just to give this doctor the benefit of the doubt, I did try this whole method (okay I was laughing during the entire process, which I’m sure is not his idea of proper execution) because I know he did a great amount of research and I was trying to be respectful of that…So, anyway, I looked at the King and said, ‘King mad, no shoes on, shoes bad, no shoes.’ He looked at me as if I was totally nuts, but to the doctor’s credit he did stop crying for a second (probably cause he was trying to figure out where his mother went). Then later, when he threw his car at my head, I clapped loudly and growled. What did the King do, when I growled? But growl back at me of course with the biggest smile on his face he could muster. He thought it was the best game ever.

Toddler whisperer I am clearly NOT.
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