Brazleton is a pediatrician unusually attuned to the workings of his patients' -- and their parents' minds. Age one to three -- characterized by ""negativism,"" tantrums, walking, and language -- is a time, Brazleton tells us, when the child is struggling for self-mastery and independence, seeking to control his body and his inner needs. Yet he is ambivalent about the freedom this entails: he fears separation from the parent. His negativism and his tantrums are tests of his freedom, and demands for parental limits to it. Such is the leitmotif of the book. The format follows ten different children and families through typical events in their lives. Brazleton comments on situations which portray universal or common problems: sibling rivalry, the single parent, working parents, the demanding or hyperactive child. We watch, for example, the Weiners struggle with Mark's breath-holding spells; Joan withdraw, as her depressed mother did; Michael compete with Tom. The author also covers in passing such matters as diet, television, and sex play. Not a complete manual on child care, but a warm, intelligent commentary on parents and children at one stage of life.