Changing Colors: The Blog of Spectrum Pediatrics

July 23, 2017

Trick of the Trade from Tracy Magee,M.Ed., CCC-SLP

Behavior Strategies

I have recently been learning some of the behavior philosophies of Dr. Harvey Karp. He is the man behind the successful books, Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. A few of his strategies for dealing with toddler meltdowns were brand new to me, and I thought they might be good to share with others, too! Here are some of his ideas about how to cope with toddler tantrums:

1. “The Fast Food Rule:” Karp suggests that before you can help another person move on from something that is upsetting, you need to acknowledge that the child is upset. You can do this by repeating back the child’s “order” to him/her. This makes the child feel heard and his/her feelings are validated. It is important that the parent use short sentences and the same emotions as the child. Karp models what this looks like by stamping his foot and saying, “I want the bus! I want the bus! I want the bus!”

2. “Feed the Meter:” This idea from Karp suggests that we all need to hear praise from others (i.e. “feed” our ego meter). He also brings up the point that everyone enjoys overhearing this praise from others. We all would love to overhear our boss singing our praises to another boss. Karp says that toddlers are no different. He states that one adult should cup their hand, as if whispering, to another adult to give the toddler praise. This way, the child thinks he/she is overhearing the compliments about his/her behavior. Karp believes this praise is very effective in continuing that positive behavior, and it may even be more effective than praising the child directly.

These are just a few ideas from Dr. Karp, but I have found them to be very beneficial with toddlers I am working with lately. It has also been a success with my own two year old at home!

If you want to learn more about Dr. Karp’s behavior ideas, you can find his book HERE and his website HERE.

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