Book Review: ToddlerCalm by Sarah Ockwell-Smith

My recent post on doing your reading but putting the books aside and trusting instincts rings true again. Having read BabyCalm by Ockwell-Smith and found that it was a useful resource to dip into, whilst listening to my inner voice I was pleased to be offered a free copy of ToddlerCalm to read and review. With a baby I felt a bit out of my depth, with a toddler I seem to get even more conflicting advice!

What I like about Ockwell-Smith’s ethos is that she is supportive of a sensible attachment parenting approach. It is great to see for example that she recommends the use of a toddler carrier for free hands, and recommends parents don’t worry about ‘spoiling or creating dependency’ in creating a healthy attachment. I chose two areas that are relevant to us at the moment, although I know the book will grow to be with us a while as we are just entering the toddler phase:

Area one: Toddler eating

We are entering the throwing and ‘don’t want it, no wait I do, no I want cheese, oh wait I don’t’ phase:

I suspected that this was an issue of control when that too-ing and fro-ing started. Ockwell-Smith suggests offering some control to your child, for example some choices about what they might like to eat. Our favourite ‘carpet picnic’ crops up, that I blogged about a while ago, I thought Daddy coined that phrase but it seems to be in common usage. I also found it helpful to read about mealtimes, Ockwell-Smith suggests that we try not to be too rigid about 12pm lunch, dinner at 4pm etc, and says we should “respect the child’s natural appetite.” This was harder for me in the early days but my getting stressed about no-food mealtimes was not the answer and Joss did indeed eat when she was hungry, just not at the times I’d have expected. The Sarah and Gemma stories about their grazers also rang true, I took from the casestudies that following the toddler’s lead results in happier mealtimes for all. I really like the use of case studies in the book as they demonstrate well that these are just phases that we are helping our children through.

Area two: Tantrums

An early area for us but we have started to see a few silent and a few not so silent protests. I think the tips for ignoring negative comments from others is crucial, as children pick up from our emotional responses, I think when the times comes for public tantrums I might find this difficult, but this part of the book is definitely all about parentcalm, so I found the top tips on handling a public tantrum helpful, particularly remembering there are no winners or losers and being ‘too soft or too harsh’ isn’t the way to go, this links to Ockwell-Smith’s comments about the difference between authoritative and authoritarian parenting, and I agree that a healthy balance is something that is worked on and keeps in mind our long term parenting goals.

I look forward to dipping in and out of ToddlerCalm over the coming months! I would have liked to have seen a little more around some of the toddler stage specifics like potty training, although there are case studies around this some more focussed advice would have been interesting, but we might have to just see where that journey takes us!


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for review, all views are my own

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