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Tovah Klein

Director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development; Associate Professor of Psychology

Tovah P. Klein, Ph.D., joined the faculty in 1995.

At the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development (Toddler Center), Professor Klein and her research team study children's social and emotional development, the influence of parents on children's development, and the experience of being a parent in the early years.  In the parenting work, the research focuses on mothers' and fathers' transition to parenthood and on work and family issues. The research looks at the ways parents negotiate the challenges of work and parenthood, particularly for mothers, but also for fathers. Another line of research focuses on the impact of trauma on young children and their families, looking at children who were direct witness to the events of 9/11. A newer study examines toddler play- how toddlers communicate through play and use play to process and learn about emotions, from everyday/typical situations (i.e., separation) to stressful (i.e., a new baby; emergency room visits) and traumatic situations.

In addition to being a developmental advisor for Sesame Street, Professor Klein is on the advisory boards for Room to Grow, Rawanda Educational Assistance Project and NYC Voices of Childhood. She is the mother of three boys.

Selected Publications:


"Nine Ways Toddlers Say I Love You" (Parents.com, February, 2011)

"Why Women Leaders are MIA from Academic Life" (Washington Post blog, On Leadership, July, 2010).


 “Young children exposed to the attacks on the World Trade Center” (with E.R. Devoe, et al.) Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 3(1), 1-7 (2011)

“Fathers' perspectives on parenting a child with a craniofacial anomaly” (with A. Pope & E. Tan), Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 24(5), (2010)

"Young Children's Responses to September 11th: The NYC Experience" (with E. R. DeVoe, et al.), Infant Mental Health Journal, 30(1) (2009)

"Post-9/11 Mental Health Service Help-Seeking among a Group of Highly Exposed New York City Parents" (with E. R. DeVoe, et al.), Families in Society, 88 (2007)

"Cognitive Imitation in Typically-Developing 3- and 4-Year Olds and Individuals with Autism" (with F. Subiaul, et al.), Cognitive Development, 22 (2007)

"Post-9/11 Helpseeking by New York City Parents on Behalf of Highly Exposed Young Children" (with E. DeVoe and W. Bannon), Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 76 (2006)

"Mothers' Reflections on Raising a Child with a Craniofacial Anomaly" (with A. Pope, et al.), Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal, 43 (2006)

"Psychological Impact of Terrorism on Children and Families in the United States" (with B. Pfefferbam, et al.), in The Trauma of Terrorism: Sharing Knowledge and Shared Care, An International Handbook, ed. Y. Danieli, et al. (Routledge, 2005)

"Parents’ Relationships with Their Parents and Peers: Influences on Children’s Social Development" (with C. Grimes and M. Putallaz), in Children's Peer Relations: From Development to Intervention, ed. J. Kuperschmidt and K. A. Dodge (Washington, DC: APA Press, 2004)

"Play: Children's Context for Development" (with D. Wirth and K. Linas),  In D. Koralek (Ed). Spotlight on Young Children and Play, 28-36. Wash. DC: NAEYC (2004).


Academic Focus: 

Developmental and clinical psychology
Children's social and emotional development
Work and family issues
Toddlers and young children

Presentations / Recent Lectures: 

"Young Children's Play: Processing and Communicating about Emotions and Life Experiences" International Play Association Conference, Cardiff, Wales, July, 2011.

"Playing as a Way to Set the Stage for Healthy Child Development" Invited Talk. Parent-Child Home Program Conference. Uniondale, NY, May, 2011.

"Creating Safety Through Play: Young Children’s Communication about Life’s Experiences, from Typical to Traumatic" (with M. Evans & S. Grazi). Zero to Three National Training Institute, Phoenix, AZ, December, 2010.

"Toddlers use of Play to Process Separation and Emotions" (with S. Grazi). Invited Talk, Citywide Infant Toddler Conference, New York, July, 2010.

"Experiences and Challenges of Women Combining Academic Careers and Motherhood" (with D. Auriemma). American Association of University Professors, Wash. DC, June, 2010.

"Anger, Separation and Fear: How Toddlers Play to Express Emotions"  Invited Talk, Bank Street College Infancy Institute. New York, June, 2010.

"Psychological Implications and Challenges of Negotiating Work and Motherhood" (with E. Nofi, R. Abbott & I. Kellerman). American Psychological Association annual conference. Toronto, Canada, August, 2009.

"Play as a Means to Process Separation and Emotions in Young Children" (with E. Nofi & M. Marzano). National Association for Education of Young Children  Conference, Play: Where Learning Begins. Charlotte, NC. June, 2009.

"Parents Thinking About Their Relationships with their Own Parents" (with I. Kellerman, R. Abbott & E. Nofi). Eastern Psychological Association, Pittsburgh, PA. March, 2009.



B.A., University of Michigan
M.A., Ph.D., Duke University

In the News

Director of Barnard’s Toddler Development Center comments on the effects of technology

Provides expert advice on how to minimize anxiety in children

"A Milestone at 40 Years"  Barnard celebrates the Center for Toddler Development as it turns 40.  Read more about the history of the center, current work being done, and what exciting changes are upcoming, including a new state-of-the-art research and observation facility.

Director of Barnard’s Center for Toddler Development appears on CNBC