Author of How Toddlers Thrive and Director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development; Associate Professor of Psychology
I live in toddler-dom. Most people would not choose to spend their days immersed in toddlers. Toddler thinking, their behaviors, their perspective are so different from ours- or from anything we would consider socialized and civilized. As Director of the internationally renowned Barnard College Center for Toddler Development (known as the Toddler Center), I have the pleasure of living in the toddler world and seeing the world from their perspective. It is a different and often entertaining view of the world; at times odd and perplexing. I have worked at this magical place for two decades and spend my days thinking about, observing, studying, and interacting with toddlers.
I spend my days working to understand the world of toddlers and young children. My research team and I study children’s social and emotional development and the role of parents in early development. Studies involve investigations of sleep and separation; children’s play; the influence of parents on children’s development, including how they think about play; and the experience of being a parent in the early years. One piece of this research seeks to understand how parents negotiate the challenges of work and family. Another line of research focuses on the impact of stress or trauma on young children and their families, particularly children who were direct witness to the events of 9/11. Current studies examine how toddlers communicate through and use play to process and learn about emotions, from typical situations (separation) to stressful (new baby; emergency room visits) and traumatic situations. A newer study looks at the role of emotions in children’s early memories.
I started working with this age group nearly 30 years ago, and the toddlers I encounter continue to interest and delight me year after year- not to mention my own three children I raised through this stage.
Dr. Klein served as a developmental advisor for Sesame Street and HBO films for children. She is on the advisory boards for Room to Grow, Ubuntu Education Fund, Rwanda Educational Assistance Project, LearnNow.org and Children’s Museum of Manhattan. She appears regularly on Good Morning America and her advice has appeared in The New York Times, Redbook, Parents, Slate.com, Huffington Post and countless other social media and print publications.