Lionsgate // 2012 // 69 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 29th, 2012
"Dr. Karp's not a pediatrician...he's a magician." -- Larry David
Any pediatrician who scores a recommendation from Larry David is good enough for me. And so begins my 37-minute trip with the famed Harvey Karp, an MD who made his name with his revolutionary (and sometimes controversial) methods for calming fussing infants. Karp brings his game to the next level with The Happiest Toddler on the Block, a documentary outlining his various strategies dealing with temperamental toddlers. And by "temperamental" I mean "borne of the fires of hellfire."
So how does one approach a toddler ensconced in an epic meltdown? Distraction? Appeasement? Abandonment?
Karp outlines his approach with a three-pronged effort and -- because I'm pretty sure he wants people to actually buy his DVD and learn the steps themselves -- I'll just lay out the general idea.
Essentially, Karp is encouraging parents to engage their kiddos on an emotional level, acknowledging that they understand the source of the rugrat's frustration. Once that connection has been established, the screaming and carrying-on should diminish. Getting to that equal footing involves recognition and affirmation of the toddler's problem, and sometimes ceding power to the child by playing the dope. No, really, watching Dr. Karp act like an imbecile in front of a bawling two year-old is worth the retail price alone!
There's a good amount more to his methodology and Karp does a fine job hitting all the points. He may not have the natural charisma of a Broadway performer, but he's earnest and obviously thought through this stuff. Even better, he's exhibiting his strategy with real kids and dialoguing with real parents. It makes the whole production feel a lot less clinical and PowerPoint-y than it could have been.
As an added bonus, we get an extra thirty minutes of toddler 4-1-1, as Karp tackles a variety of questions (26 in all), like "How do I calm a toddler when I'm driving?" and "Is it okay if I get angry?" Good stuff, and answered honestly. Whether any of this works for you...well, you'll just have to give it a spin. I haven't had a chance to test any of it on my own darling little angel, but if you're at your wit's end, what have you got to lose?
The DVD is standard issue: standard definition 1.33:1 full frame, Dolby 2.0 Stereo, and the aforementioned extras.
No timeout for you. Here's an animal cracker.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (CC)
Running Time: 69 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site