Good Reading : July 2001
health mouth wordof The Mighty Toddler Robin Barker Macmillan $30.00 Reviewed by Wendy Harmer There is something so sensible, reassuring and relaxed about Robin Barker’s advice on mothering, that reading her books is as good as having your favourite Auntie Jean pop over to make you a cup of tea and take baby off your hands for a few hours. As a bewildered new mother I always experienced a sigh of relief and a deep feeling of comfort when I reached for her Baby Love book. If there’s one thing Robin understands, it’s that too much information is almost worse than not enough, and the overwhelming message I get from this wonderful woman is: ‘Relax, you’re doing beautifully. Everything is going to be fine.’ No wonder I have bought a copy of her book to give to every new mum I know. You’ll understand then, how thrilled I was to find that Robin has now written a book called The Mighty Toddler, dispensing more of the precious wisdom she has acquired in 25 years as a registered nurse, midwife and parentcraft nurse. As Robin points out, these first three years of your child’s life are utterly enchanting and it’s so easy to lose sight of the joy and laughter while you strive to be the perfect parent raising the perfect child. Robin says there are three basic things a toddler needs: someone who passionately loves them and who is always available; security to explore and good adult role models. And the rest? Well, my first road test of Robin’s new volume came the other night when my 15 month-old daughter, Maeve, gave me a painful nip on the shoulder. Oh, no! We’ve got a biter! Her big brother didn’t bite. Why would she bite me? We have to stop this immediately! We won’t be able to take her to playgroup if she bites etc. etc. etc. Robin’s advice, as usual, is ‘Don’t panic’. From a toddler’s point of view biting is no worse than hitting, kicking, pushing or bashing. From an adult’s point of view biting is a particularly heinous crime and many parents secretly think that biting is a sign of a serious flaw in the toddler and his parents. She then goes on to give a few strategies to cope with biting, including ‘time out’ and warning your friends that there’s a biter on the loose! But the most reassuring advice of all? ‘Biting tends to disappear over time.’ Sigh. Somehow I imagined Maeve severing some poor kid’s artery on the school bus. All the information you want is here: from power struggles to poo smearing; from heat rash to head colds. And there’s a chapter you won’t find in many toddler manuals: how to modify your own behaviour as a parent. Robin’s had enough experience to know that it’s often Mum and Dad who could do with a bit of ‘time out’ from their problems with sharing and aggressive behaviour. It’s not often that a reviewer has the pleasure of whole heartedly endorsing the advertising blurb that comes with a new book, but when the publishers say ‘this is the only book parents will ever need to keep them sane and smiling through the toddler years,’ they’re absolutely right. Well done Robin, you’re a national treasure! Wendy Harmer is a broadcaster on Today FM and has two children under the age of four. Watch out for Sandstone Publishing’s new release for September 2001 Congratulations, Good Reading staff, on your premier issue! From the staff at Sandstone Publishing (publisher and promotional distributor of non-fiction titles) Look Who’s Talking! A guide to the art of public speaking By Hap P. Hannan Learn the secrets of great communication from a champion debater and never suffer stage fright again. Look Who’s Talking! A guide to the art of public speaking is an essential reference covering: • performance tips and techniques to keep your audience interested • advice on how to deliver your message effectively, using vocal variety, body language and humour...and lots more! Available at bookshops from 1 September 2001; Paperback; RRP $19.95 Looking to get published? If you have a great book idea, we’d love to hear from you. Send your proposal or manuscript to P.O. Box 526, Leichhardt, NSW 2040.