Having a toddler is a lot like owning a badger or a rabid raccoon. Sure, they’re cute and sweet when they want to be. But that can change in the blink of an eye. Remember that honey badger video from a few years ago? Every person who’s ever parented a toddler watched that and felt that ice-cold dread in their veins. You know that feeling. The one where you can sense your kid is about to lose their shit and know there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Forget walking in egg shells. The toddler years are like living on a pinhead, perched precariously over a vat of Legos, with a strong wind. Toddlers are delightful in so many ways, but you will drop to your knees and kiss the ground when they finally age up.
It’s important to remember that it’s not a reflection of them as a person, or you as a parent. Tantrums are a completely normal part of child development. One of the biggest reasons toddlers have them so often is that they’re frustrated. Their language skills are only beginning to develop, so they can’t accurately express what it is they want or need. They also want control over their own environment, but aren’t quite capable of handling it just yet. The toddler years are when kids are discovering their own independence, but they still shit in their pants, so how independent can they be, really? All we can do is roll with it. Grab some headphones, a glass of wine, and read on to figure out why your tiny tyrant is sobbing on the ground today.
Reason #1 your toddler is having a fit: the sun is out but they think it’s nighttime.
According to your toddler, you hung the sun, the moon, and all the stars. It’s very sweet! But like, you don’t control the rotation of the earth. So when they look outside and see sun, but you just put them in jammies, their little brains just liquefy. Sun is for day, moon is for night, bedtime is at night! Invest in some blackout curtains before daylight savings starts. One of the best ways to fight a toddler tantrum is to trick the little suckers.
Toddlers want what they want. Until they don’t want it. Which can happen WHILE they still want it.
“Mama, I has puffs peez?” Hands them puffs. “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT, WOMAN???” Toddlers change their minds at light speed, and until we can figure out how to predict those changes, we end up pissing them off. A lot.
Reason #3 your adorable little angel is turning purple from crying so hard: they wanted to pink cup and you had the goddamn AUDACITY to give them the red cup.
Never mind that the pink cup is unusable because they hid it in the toy bin for four days during a heatwave and it had milk in it. They don’t give a shit about your reasons, lady. It’s obviously your fault they decided to make yogurt in their pink sippy cup and didn’t tell you about it. And don’t bother buying several pink cups to avoid this in the future. As soon as they see more than one of something, they immediately hate it.
They said “idwuwehcnoi” and you did your best to decipher what it was they were after, and you got it completely wrong.
Toddlers need a chip or something that will automatically translate the gibberish they spew forth at all hours of the day. Because I’m sorry, “bugyeth” DOES NOT sound like “banana”, which is what they wanted. And as soon as you think you’ve managed to crack the code, they learn how to say the actual goddamn word correctly.
Reason #5 toddlers melt down: they want to go to the park, which is in the direction that you’re currently traveling, but they’re tiny people who don’t understand how direction works.
Never mind that they can’t even see out of the fucking car window, and even if they could, they would have absolutely no idea which way the park was. You told them you were going to the park, but you lie a lot, and they don’t believe you. Even dogs can begin to understand landmarks and general locations of things, but don’t expect the same from your toddlers.
Mommy isn’t daddy and daddy isn’t mommy. That will piss your toddler off.
Toddlers never want you more than when you aren’t around. When daddy is gone, it’s the end times. Never mind the fact that they basically ignore daddy when he’s actually there. And if mommy leaves, daddy is in for a rude fucking day. They want what they want when they want it, and nothing else will do.
Reason #7 things are grim in Toddlerland: you made a meal of their favorite foods, which they hate now.
Up until this very moment, your toddler subsisted on a steady diet of cheese and corn. So how much are they going to love this cheesy corn dinner you whipped up just for them? LOL, you silly dummy. They are going to hate, because apparently you missed the invisible memo that said they no longer liked cheese or corn. Back to the kitchen you go, move along now.
Your toddler is exhausted but THEY ARE NOT TIRED DO YOU HEAR ME?
Jesus H. Christ. It’ll be years before your kid appreciates the value of sleep. In the meantime, they will swear on their dead nana that they are NOT tired and do NOT need a nap and IT IS NOT bedtime. And two minutes after this they will melt the fuck down and then pass the fuck out standing up in the corner. You know what’s a sure sign your kid is tired? When they tell you they’re not tired. These tantrums are brutal but blissfully short because they’re little bodies finally just give up and go to sleep.
Toddlers don’t understand TV schedules, so good luck explaining to them why Daniel Tiger isn’t on 24 hours a day.
Netflix and Hulu have helped with this particular tantrum trigger. Which is great! But it’s also made it worse. Maybe your toddler understands that they can watch 4-day marathons of Peppa Pig. So when you don’t let them, you become the enemy. HOW DARE YOU.
Finally, the most frustrating reason toddlers lose it every once in a while: there is no goddamn reason.
Here’s the thing: sometimes they will just fucking freak out for no good goddamn reason. When my youngest was around 2, she would just scream and cry for 20 minutes because, oh I don’t know, she has five toes on each foot. Who knows?! Their brains are all mixed up and doing some pretty major developing and growing, and sometimes, wires just zap out. The most important thing we can do is not take it personally. They don’t know what they’re mad about anymore than we do. And haven’t we all woken up in a foul-ass mood for no reason? It sucks, I know, but we just have to ride it out.
Eventually, they grow out of this, and their tantrums will get bigger and more specific. So much to look forward to!
(Image: iStock/ poplasen)