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Oh Crap! I Have a Toddler by Jamie Glowacki

Oh Crap! I Have a Toddler by Jamie Glowacki

Rating: 6/10

Date Read: June 29, 2024

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If you’re in the throes of toddlerhood, Jamie Glowacki’s book is like having a wise friend who’s got your back.

I’ll be honest, it won’t solve all your problems if any, but it might open your eyes to some aspects of your toddler’s life.

What’s in the book?

  • Boundaries: Jamie teaches us that setting clear boundaries isn’t mean—it’s necessary. It helps toddlers feel secure and know what to expect.
  • Flexibility: She reminds us that rigid parenting philosophies often don’t stand a chance against the whirlwind of toddler needs. It’s all about staying flexible and meeting your child where they are.
  • Connection is Key: Before you even think about correcting your little one, you need a solid connection. It’s about engaging with them in a meaningful way that makes both of you feel good.
  • Self-Care: Yep, you matter too. Taking care of yourself isn’t just good for you—it teaches your toddler about self-care and sets a healthy example.
  • Play and Learning: Play is serious business in toddler world. Jamie emphasizes letting kids lead their learning through play and warns against pushing formal education too early.
  • Routine Matters: Whether it’s sleep, food, or managing transitions, having predictable routines can make a big difference in your toddler’s behavior.
  • Emotions and Discipline: She advises against traditional time-outs, suggesting instead that we try to understand what’s beneath the behavior. Also, learning to validate feelings can go a long way.

Jamie’s approach is all about shifting your perspective from controlling to connecting. Her strategies aren’t just about surviving these years but really enjoying this wild phase of life.

Actinable advice:

  • Define what is okay and what isn’t clearly and consistently. Don’t change the rules often. Stand by what you say.
  • Adapt your parenting as your child’s needs change. Don’t be rigid, your kid is growing and his personality as well.
  • Spend quality, focused time with your child every day, preferably doing what your kid wants (play).

My Thoughts

You are curious about this book for one of two reasons:

  1. You are preparing for the toddler years of your baby and are curious.
  2. You have a uncontrollable toddler on your hands and need some help and support, now!

When I picked up this book I was the latter. It was a difficult week and our baby was out of control. I needed some help, fast.

This book doesn’t have a magical pill that will make your baby quiet and sit still for hours on end. Such advice doesn’t exists. Ther is no changing your baby. Instead, you are the one that needs to change.

That was a hard pill to swallow, but a necessary truth.

This books still brough some comfort by aknowledging my feelings and helping me go through them (something you should apply to your baby too). And co-incidentilly, our toddler is much more fun to play with. Not sure if I actually changed my ways, or just accepted the truth.

He is always fun to play with but sometimes, it gets a little too much. Knowing that this is a small test by your baby, which you should calmly get through is great.



  • Boundaries are knowing when to say yes and when to say no. It’s clearly communicating your limits, your capabilities, and when you’ve had enough. If you’re not used to setting clear limits, this can feel mean. The reality is, everyone in your life will be better off knowing your boundaries. Children at this age need to know your limits and boundaries; otherwise they’ll free-fall through their little lives. Note: How exactly to set those boundaries? How to communicate them? Little Unclear


  • Parenting philosophies are like birth plans. You can have your vision but then life may give you a totally different situation and you have to go with that. Do not be so tied to a philosophy that you miss the child right in front of you. I want you to understand why the best-laid plans in pregnancy, infancy, and the early toddler years may go haywire somewhere around the three-year mark. It’s all good until it’s not, and just like that Ferrari switching gears, you must as well.

  • I assure you, laying down this foundation early on will allow for more lax parenting down the road. Those easy bedtimes? The long conversations over a beautiful meal, one they eat? That idealized vision you had when you thought of parenting? It’s coming! I promise. Just not yet. Now is the building phase. Make that foundation strong now so it stands the test of time.

Note: You have to put in the work first, to reap the benefits later.


  • Connection is engaging with your child in a meaningful, heartfelt way. It’s not teaching, being a mistake monitor, or directing the child what to do. You know it when you’re in it because you feel like an excellent parent. When the connection with your child is disrupted (just like with friends and partners), you will see contentious behavior—snippy, cranky, and contrary. Before any correction can happen, connection must be present.


  • You count. You matter. Not just as a parent but as a human. If you consistently put your child first, you will crash and burn. Good self-care isn’t just about self-preservation or being the best parent you can be, it’s also about modeling self-care for your child. And doing away with much of the child entitlement that’s so prevalent today.


  • Do the exercises in this chapter. I know you probably think you don’t have time for this. But if you give this approach a little time and energy, it will change your life in the best ways!


  • You are shaping the child you are raising, but you are not creating this human. You cannot create the perfect child who then grows into the perfect adult. There is no magic code that will make that happen. Most parental anxiety comes from the idea that you are somehow messing up. Sink into love and connection first and foremost, and you really can’t go wrong.


  • With very minor exceptions, our little kids’ behavior should not elicit a crazy reaction from us. Without a doubt, it’s our stuff. I’ve given you a few tools here for now, but I hope you take on examining your values as a lifelong adventure. Learning about yourself and what you value and what makes you lose it—these are crazy good lessons for every human. It’s not enough to say, “They’re wrong.” In some alternative universe they’re not wrong. It’s not enough to say, “That’s just the way it is.” Nothing is written in stone. You can’t continually say, “Well, this is how I am.” Learn why. Learn what’s underneath.


  • Pull away from the notion that formal education is important at this age. We have an epidemic of kids who are having meltdowns and crazy behavior when it does become time to sit still later, like in first and second grade. Sensory problems are at an all-time high, largely because we’re doing things in the wrong order. We aren’t letting kids build the foundation they need to have the capability to sit and focus. We are rushing academics, and the frustration it’s building is explosive. We aren’t letting learning blossom but rather we’re forcing it.

Note: don’t force any type of learning on your child. let them explore and show you what they like.


  • The basis of this skill set is organizing and processing information in order. In games and all your interactions with your child, remember to slow down. If your child looks lost and distracted, it’s because he is not processing the information as fast as you. Slow it down. Break it into easier, more sequential tasks.


  • Think engagement and connection, rather than educational content. This is a level of conscious parenting that most people won’t think about. Connection means really seeing the little person in front of you, not just being a mistake monitor or talking at your child. Remember, a kid who feels connected wants to behave well, wants to be part of your little village, wants to do the things that keep her there, loved and secure.


  • Think learning versus education. Your child will have years to do math problems with pen and pencils. They will have years of writing. Years of sitting and being told what to do. Use these early years to foster creativity. To learn about failure and mistakes and flubbing things wildly. We need to chill, guys. We’re quick to try to help them “get ahead” with educational material. But exploration is key at this age.


  • Our kids need Big Play and big, swirling, twirling, jumping movement. Allowing them the full range of what their bodies can do not only helps with calm behavior now, it sets the stage for a future of focus and sitting still. Encourage Big Play and risk-taking. You might have to sit on all the “be carefuls” that naturally want to come out of your mouth. Physical risk-taking is paramount at this age. Set the stage for your children to explore all their bodies can do. Note: i love that one 🤣


  • Free play isn’t just about playing. It’s play without adults leading and directing. This is a constant progression and practice. The goal, of course, is an independent child who can think critically and handle conflict and conflict resolution. With each passing year, this goal will get closer and closer. Be mindful of this process when your child is young and just starting out on the journey. Build your practice of not interfering. Butt out of your toddler’s grievances as much as possible. Of course, you can’t throw your preschooler to the wolves. I totally get that. But you can definitely start the practice now so it becomes more natural later on.


  • falling asleep is much harder when kids go to bed overtired—which also contributes to the nightly battles.

  • Good sleep leads to a way better chance of much better behavior all around.

  • Always err on the side of more sleep. Treat it as a nutrient. More. Sleep. Always.


  • Validate the feelings your child is having without having to manage all the other people. Many parents give too much weight to the feeling at hand. Kids quickly learn that this is an excellent tool for controlling the people around them, and remember, control is exactly the thing they are looking for. So let’s give them some actual calm control in managing their feelings. Note: Need to read a little more of this chapter for context.


  • This chapter is not the be-all and end-all in managing toddler behavior. The subtitle on this book cover specifically mentions “without time-outs.” I know how dealing with behavior gets all kinds of sketchy. This whole book really is about shifting your thinking, shifting your ideas of parenting, shifting your environment so that you can mitigate typical “bad” behavior before getting to the point of feeling like you have to come down super hard on your child. What’s going on is almost never really about the obvious behavior you’re seeing. Look for what’s underneath the behavior.


  • Don’t assume your child isn’t listening. You may be using too many words for them to unscramble the message in the time you are expecting. Use fewer words, more eye contact, and above all, connection when it seems like your little one isn’t listening. And remember, these are long-term tools that take patience and practice on your part.


  • Slow down, way down. Toddler time is very slow. If transitions are crazy, think slower. The more you can prepare your child with short, doable directives, the more you can start to iron out daily transitions. Breaking down the minutiae of a task can feel awkward and time-consuming at first, but it’s far better to use your time helping your child be successful rather than dealing with a cranky and uncooperative toddler.


  • Food can absolutely affect behavior both for good and for bad. Trust your intuition. If something feels off, the tantrums seem too explosive or too frequent, try investigating food both in timing and for sensitivities. This is too huge a topic to cover here, but if you suspect it may be relevant to your family, even the most cursory search on how gut health affects behavior can point you to some answers.


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