I read this book because I needed to read a book published in the year I was born for a reading challenge. Also, I have a three year old. To be more precise, I have a three-and-a-half year old. Which is apparently an enormous difference according to this book. Though, honestly, he's been a threenager for months; there was nothing magical about turning 42 months. And despite his forays into threenager behaviour, he's really quite lovely most of the time (unlike the demon child this book describes as the typical three-and-a-half year old).
So, this book was written in 1976, but it reads as if it was written in 1956 - or even 1946. Many of the scenarios and concerns are very very dated - especially the "letters from real mothers" chapter at the end of the book. "Letters from mothers" because, apparently, when this book was written, fathers didn't have any particular involvement in their children's upbringing (other than judging mother if he perceives that she's not doing a good enough job of raising the children). Keeping in mind that I was born in the year this book was published, I have to say that my childhood did not particularly resemble the one described in this book. I got to eat dinner with both parents; my mother did not "shelter" my father from my probably poor table manners.
Despite all this, there are a few interesting ideas about different stages of a child's physical and mental development. I was particularly intrigued by the idea of oscillation between stages of "equilibrium" and "disequilibrium". Unfortunately, the author doesn't really elaborate upon those ideas outside of telling her story of two different children - the lovely eager-to-please three year old and the stubborn angry three-and-a-half year old.
Many of the other reviews of this book have picked on the author's advice to let someone else look after your child when they're at a difficult age. I think that the value in that advice is "it's okay to ask for help, and it's okay to value your sanity". It's presented in a way that seems ridiculous to the modern parent - but I think that's mostly due to the fact that this book was written by someone who lived in a very different time (and it likely does a better job of reflecting parenting in the 1950s than even the 1970s in which it was actually written). There is real value in the old idea of "it takes a village to raise a child".
This whole series has been so helpful to me in knowing what kinds of things to expect with our toddler and feeling calm knowing the root of certain (really frustrating!) behaviors that are normal parts of development.
Despite its being somewhat dated, our pediatrician recommended this book as it contains a solid description of we can expect from our three-year-old over the next several months. It is a quick, reassuring read, and now I have a much better understanding of what behaviors are typical for a three-year-old. I also appreciate the compassionate, gentle voice in this handy book.
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