Huffpost Parents
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff Headshot

Shortcut to a Happy Child, Courtesy of Harvey Karp

Posted: Updated:

I had the privilege of organizing a mommy blogger luncheon recently for Dr. Harvey Karp, who is celebrating the 10th anniversary of The Happiest Baby company with the launch of The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep: Birth to 5 Years.

It was so amazing to have the opportunity to re-connect with the incredibly supportive and ridiculously intelligent Los Angeles blogging community, and to realize how many of us have been profoundly affected by Dr. Karp's work.

Of course, there's Scholastic Parent & Child magazine, which recently named Dr. Karp as the only pediatrician on their "10 Most Influential People in Family Life 2012," below moms and above Steve Jobs.

But this group of bloggers responded to my Evite with statements like, "the Happiest Baby is a godsend," "Dr. Karp saved my life," and "He's my personal parenting savior."

Okay, that one's mine.

And it's true. The only difference between my first two children sleepless-in-my-bed children and the Barnacle, who slept through the night almost immediately, were Dr. Karp's "5 S's" soothing techniques, which are increasingly lauded by medical researchers such as those who published recently in the journal Pediatrics that Dr. Karp's baby-calming tactics worked better than the sugar-water supplements traditionally given to infants after experiencing pain from injections or circumcision.

So it's only fitting that Dr. Karp's new book would be on sleep, since that's basically a parent's obsession for the first year -- or five -- of her child's life. But this wasn't the only subject we covered at the meet-up. Dr. Karp gave us a preview of what he'll be talking about during a special Parent's Night Out Event with Dr. Harvey Karp that will take place on June 21 in movie theaters nationwide, co-hosted by Ali Landry.

And a lot of what we discussed -- prompted perhaps by a roomful of preschooler moms -- was information presented in The Happiest Toddler on the Block book/DVD. I'd been a little reluctant to employ what Dr. Karp calls "toddlerese," but after hearing him describe the process, I changed my mind.

Apparently, my instinct to calmly and rationally explain to the Barnacle why she shouldn't throw a tantrum is actually impossible -- due to her stage of brain development -- for her to process.

So I tried the opposite as she ramped up to hysteria while we drove away from her preschool without taking a napkinful of school snack. Here's how it went:

Barnacle: But I didn't get a snack. Mommy, we didn't get the SNACK!

Me: I know! It's HORRIBLE! They didn't have the snack out before we left! Oh NO!

Barnacle: Mommy, why are you driving away?! I want SCHOOL SNACK!

Me: I want YOU to have SCHOOL SNACK TOO! Let's GO HOME and get a SPECIAL SNACK!

Barnacle: What KIND?

Me: How about a CHOCOLATE CHIP GRANOLA BAR!

Barnacle: Okay. Can you put on the radio?

Okay, so I bribed her with sugar, so sue me. But you get the picture. Previously, I would have spent 10 minutes explaining ever-so-calmly why it was wrong for the Barnacle to get upset over a snack that A) is usually a paltry saltine and B) wasn't even available, while she screamed at the top of her lungs in a closed car. This time, she forgot about the snack by the time we left the parking lot.

And there's a reason for that. According to Dr. Karp, trying to rationalize with her in an adult way devalues her feelings -- teaching her to repress her emotions, while matching her emotional level and acknowledging her desires facilitates better communication and self-esteem.

Sound good to me!