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The Emotional Life of the Toddler

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  416 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
Although a number of books discuss the physical and cognitive abilities of the toddler, Alicia F. Lieberman’s is the first to examine the varied and intense emotional life of children from ages one to three in Emotional Life of the Toddler.

Any parent who has followed an active toddler around for a day knows that a child of this age is a whirlwind of explosive, contradictor
Paperback, 244 pages
Published May 1st 1995 by Free Press (first published August 23rd 1993)
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Sara Walsh
Apr 12, 2011 Sara Walsh rated it really liked it
Now I just need The Emotional Life of the 39 year old male, and I'll be all set.
Jun 13, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it
When I glanced at the back cover and saw the author was associated with UCSF, I smiled. UCSF has been such a great resources for pediatrics and education for us.

My aunt, who is a social worker who specializes in working with children, recommended this book. We are both fascinated with how kids think at such a young age, and this is a nice book for understanding child development. It's not entirely a parenting book; that is, it's less geared to telling parents what to do than it is to discussing
Sonya Feher
Jun 01, 2009 Sonya Feher rated it liked it
Shelves: parenting, nonfiction
The Emotional Life of the Toddler was published in 1993 and it suffers from the lack of some of the latest attachment research and access to more recently published parenting resources. Lieberman's chapters on "The Challenges of Being (and Raising) a Toddler" and "The Toddler in Childcare" are very good. The chapter about divorce and how to help a child negotiate all of the changes and tensions inherent in the break-up of a family offers a big picture understanding as well as specific advice. He ...more
Dec 28, 2008 Sara rated it liked it
A good book with real life examples. It helped me see things from the toddlers perspective. It stresses the importance of attachment behavior & a secure base for the toddler. some chapters were not relevant to me such as child care & the divorce situation. A good reference book for sure!
A decent basic outline of toddlerhood, including insight into a lot of the "issues" of this age group like separation anxiety, potty training, & tantrums. My main complaint about this book is that it is not very sensitive to cultural relativity, and is written from the point of view of the dominant (normative) culture in the US -- white, middle class, heterosexual, etc., and makes the assumption that all (or at least most) toddlers are operating within this framework. Especially annoying is ...more
Amanda Harrison
Jun 15, 2013 Amanda Harrison rated it really liked it
When I started this book I was initially disappointed. The first chapter contained little enough new information that I almost put the book down and didn't pick it up. I did keep reading and actually found that the remaining book was quite good. The views on the inner life of the toddler provided some insight in to some sometimes seemingly strange actions. In particular, the talk about how anxiety can manifest itself in toddlers was extremely interesting and shed some light on how parents and ad ...more
Jan 30, 2013 Rosy rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013
The Emotional Life of the Toddler explains the push and pull feelings that toddlers experience as part of the process of growing up from helpless baby to an independent young child. At its core, the book emphasizes the need for a "secure base" for toddlers, greatly favoring attachment parenting as the basis for a healthy relationship with your 1 to 3 year old.

I had higher hopes for this book and was disappointed at how little I learned from it. Perhaps since it was written in 1993, before the hu
Nov 05, 2007 Johnny rated it it was amazing
This book taught me a lot about my daughter, myself, and my wife, and explained a lot about the relationships between us. I highly recommended it to my wife and I really hope she reads it.

The biggest criticism I have of this book is really a minor quibble: the use of (what to me are) ambiguous phrases like "in their first year" or "in their second year". Does "in their second year" apply to one-year olds or two-year olds? It seems to me like it should mean one-year olds, but it's just ambiguous
Sep 11, 2008 Robin rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008
This is the first parenting book I've read in full. The first third of the book was pretty repetitive, going on and on about the importance and significance of a "stable core" in a toddler's emotional development. But then I realized as I read further how that really is the foundation for all that is discussed later in the book-- and those later chapters were full of helpful insight for me, particularly the sections on fears and sleep. Though some are really cheesy, I also really enjoyed the cas ...more
Jun 05, 2015 Lisa rated it liked it
This book, as others have mentioned, is a bit dated (1993). I thought the first couple chapters were good, but I was particularly underwhelmed with the chapters on nighttime/sleep issues (she essentially advocates "cry it out" in a few places and actually says "it'll make the child stronger") and how the author refers to introverts as "shy children" and extroverts as "active children". Most of the research cited in this book is from the 1980s, so it's not totally debunk now, just old and not-so- ...more
Mar 07, 2013 Dan rated it it was ok
Interesting read that gave some good perspective on Marielle's behavior and will hopefully give me more patience (although I only need to emulate my wife for that). The book was a little too "general reader" for my taste, i would have liked to hear more about the research behind the findings. related to that, i was skeptical about some of the authors statements (especially when not supported by a footnote). My favorite part was about siblings and how the older ones seemed to always want to put t ...more
Dec 19, 2012 Sarah rated it it was ok
Shelves: parenting
While the author presents this material in a "scientific"way, referring to studies and a psychological analysis of toddlerhood, I found that the only helpful insights for parenting my kids were the same things I try to do using common sense and respect for my children as human beings. I did like the closing page of the book where the author argues that parenting your toddler gives you a practice run for parenting your teen... You have to learn how to let go just enough to maintain a close relati ...more
Feb 27, 2010 Cary rated it it was amazing
This book is a refreshing change from many parenting books in that it acknowledges both the parents' and the child's rights to be in a harmonious relationship, together. It identifies good ways to "negotiate" with a toddler... a person who has strong emotions and feelings but is unable to articulate needs clearly. I really like the respect that Dr. Lieberman gives to everyone, and the positive spin on tantrums, "irrational" behavior, etc.
Oct 19, 2009 Aubrey rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting, own, psychology
I found this to be a helpful glimpse into why toddlers are the way they are (at least, sometimes). It was reassuring to note that problematic behaviors (like tantrums) are both normal and necessary and not always a result of bad parenting.

Also - I found the connection between toddlerhood and adolescence to be interesting. Both ages deal with the struggle between individuation and connection.
Aug 24, 2013 Esther rated it really liked it
Beautiful prose that describes all the turmoils of the early milestones that are critical from a psychodynamic view -- the ability to develop attachment to others and the ability to differentiate from others. She really gives toddlers the benefit of the doubt-- her view of them is respectful, curious, wondrous of their interior life. Also, from a clinical perspective very helpful in understanding later problems of adulthood when these milestones are not accomplished in childhood.
Jun 18, 2012 Shelly rated it liked it
This wasn't the best book ever about toddlers, which is what I was expecting due to some recommendation or another, but it was definitely interesting, and I learned a lot about how toddlers feel and think, and I'm already treating Henry differently in some ways. I think it's worth reading if you're the parent of a toddler, but I also think it could be a much shorter book, and some of the gender nonsense in the divorce chapter was hard to take.
Alex Templeton
Sep 27, 2008 Alex Templeton rated it really liked it
Read for my child development class. Fascinating! I feel prepared to raise a toddler now. Ahem, overstatement. But I do feel more well informed. My only hesitation about this book is wondering just how accurate the author's perceptions of the toddler's emotional life can be. She's drawing conclusions based on behavior, but without the children's ability to communicate their feelings, how do we know with total certainty that an adult's interpretations of them to be accurate?
Maybe this got better, but I had to put it down--at least the first few chapters were nothing new (blah blah, toddlers are testing boundaries to learn about the world). If you haven't already read a lot about toddlers, this is probably a good place to start. Also, the stonewashed baggy overalls on the cover model are pretty hilarious.
Dec 24, 2009 Betsy rated it liked it
Recommends it for: open minded Mommys, Nannys, and Dads
Recommended to Betsy by: found in Independent book store
Glad this book is on my book shelf. You find yourself referring to Chapters over and over. The book is actual case study's. I think the author did a good job of not making it over complicated. Some things were over stated but most were insightful on understanding your toddler... More important I am working with a soon to be Toddler and find this book very helpful.
Dec 12, 2010 Elizabby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book with great insights into how toddlers think and feel and what people mean by "temperament" and why to make allowances for it. Not a hands-on parenting book that tells you "do this to get your child to do that", this is a thoughtful exploration of the inner world of someone who is still developing who they are. Excellent stuff - highly recommended for both parents and professionals.
Megan Shriver
Jul 04, 2009 Megan Shriver rated it really liked it
I found this useful as my son was nearing 2 and shortly thereafter. Easy to pick up and refresh your memory if your toddler seems to be going through a challenging time. Helped me understand some of the main personality types in kids and how to parent in a way that respects their personality, along with taking into account my own.
Julie Dolan
May 28, 2008 Julie Dolan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: parents of toddlers
Recommended to Julie by: a mother and early childhood education major
Shelves: parenting, toddler
I read this book over a year, something I don't recommend. I found it useful. There are many examples of children at various toddler ages that are used to illustrate points. I found these examples to be helpful both in demonstrating a point, and in giving me places to compare my child. I recommend this book to children entering toddlerhood, as well as those already there.
Jun 12, 2009 Tauna added it
This is a very interesting book, giving lots of insight into who toddlers see things and how to nurture them emotionally. It was especially helpful for me in understanding temperaments and how they show themselves in the toddler years, separation anxiety, and using play to build up security. It's a bit of a plodding read but still had some interesting nuggets to offer.
Sera Gray
Dec 19, 2010 Sera Gray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quite possibly the best book I've read on kids/parenting. Backed up with lots of research, etc. Gave me lots of insight into Kaylee and what's going on in that little mind of hers. Very, very good book.
Jul 24, 2014 MusicalSilver rated it really liked it
A very nice insight into the mindset of a Toddler. I did expect more discussion about solutions to various problems. For example, separation anxiety is discussed in detail, but not approaches that could be taken to mitigate it. Beyond this, it was a very good book.
Sep 23, 2007 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: parents of toddlers
A breakdown of the stages in early toddlerhood. Author provded many many descriptions of circumstances, behavior changes, clashes of personality, personality types, etc. Also provded inspirational ideas for creating an emotional environment for toddlers.
Oct 07, 2013 Amanda rated it really liked it
I don't really see this as a parenting book, but it was very interesting to help you better understand toddlers in general.
Jul 01, 2008 CS rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Parents of toddlers
Recommended to CS by: moxie?
I started to read this and was really liking it, but my husband stole it from me! I'm putting it "on my nightstand" until he's through with it.
Dec 05, 2008 Annasan rated it it was amazing
The best, in my opinion, of all the kid-advice books.
Jan 06, 2011 Andrienne rated it really liked it
A good addition to any parent's bookshelf.
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“Parents and children help each other to grow. In raising their children, parents are also raising themselves. Child rearing gives parents the chance to redo their own childhood and to improve on it.” 1 likes
“The child may feel strongly about his or her goals, but it is the parent who is raising the child and not vice versa. While retaining their empathy, adults need to achieve the self-confidence to have the last word when they are not being cruel or unreasonably arbitrary.” 0 likes
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