The toddler tantrum: the bane of parents EVERYWHERE. Even at their best, toddlers are unreasonable by nature. Have you ever tried to reason with a 3-year old who insists that the sky is, in fact, green? Pro-tip: don't. Just close your eyes and pretend it's green, you'll thank us later. So what happens when you have an unreasonable toddler in the middle of a tantrum? World War 3, basically. There's no getting out of a toddler tantrum. It's like a riptide: stop fighting it and just float along until you're in safer waters. And for cripe's sake, don't say anything of these 10 things during a toddler tantrum! Trust us, it won't do you any good.
But oh, you'll do them anyway. We know you will. We all do it! We've all said all of these things, even though we know better and we know it won't do any damn good. The thing about fighting with a toddler is that it's pointless, we'll never win, but we will be damned if we go down without a fight. Who do these tiny tyrants think they are?! We made them, we can take them out, right?? Except no. No, we cannot. They own us, right down to our toes curled in frustration and anger. So this list is nice to have handy, but we won't blame you for what you do in the heat of the moment.
You know how mad you get when you're fighting with your partner and they tell you to calm down? Yeah. Works the same way with toddlers, which is to say, not at all. It's entirely possible that toddlers don't even know that the word calm means. It's like talking to them in a foreign language that they do not speak. Calm? What is this "calm" you keep saying? During a toddler tantrum, telling them to calm down is the equivalent of giving someone in a sinking boat a spoon. GEE THANKS, SUPER HELPFUL. It's only going to enrage them, and help YOU sink faster.
If they knew, they would probably tell you. But dollars to donuts they're not crying about any of the things they got mad about in the first place. The tantrum has evolved, it's anyone's guess. Maybe they started crying because they ran out of Goldfish (hard same, toddler friend). Or maybe they had a legitimate reason, like they hurt themselves or were very tired! All totally understandable. But about five minutes into a toddler tantrum, their crying becomes a life force all its own. There's no reason to cry for 30 solid minutes about Goldfish, so clearly they've moved on. Try to keep up, will you?
The tantruming toddler does not appreciate being laughed at. Being laughed at will ratchet that tantrum up to Defcon 10 in seconds. But listen, we totally get this feel. Because there is NOTHING more infuriating than being laughed at when you're having a moment. It's hurtful and rude! HOWEVER. It is also really hard not to laugh at a very small person who is banging their fists on the ground and turning a lovely shade of purple from screaming. And then when they lift their face and their snot trail stays connected to the ground like a snail? You just try to keep a straight face during that, we dare you.
Your 3-year old is literally writhing around on the floor turning various shades of purple from rage. If they could use their words, we're pretty sure those words would be "Fuck You." Honestly, this one cracks us up. Don't get us wrong, we've totally said it. But ... what words exactly should they be using? They can barely form a coherent sentence to tell us they need to poop or eat. Have you ever watched a toddler try to use the voice search option on YouTube? It's hilarious, because not even YouTube robots know wtf they're saying. But somehow they're supposed to somehow compose themselves and speak eloquently about what's pissing them off. Parents, we are so dumb sometimes.
Yes, logically the toddler knows that putting the iPad in the bathtub would result in the iPad taking a shit and dying. But the toddler does not care right now. The toddler was proved wrong, and they are salty about it. Rubbing salt in their wound during a toddler tantrum is just asking for it. You know it, we know, everyone knows it. No one likes it when other people point out that they were right. No one likes a braggart, people! It can be very difficult to refrain from rubbing it in, but during a toddler tantrum, we should always try to be the bigger people. Because we are literally the bigger people.
Listen, if you're not going to follow through with the threat, don't make it. Especially when the kid is already 1836 kinds of pissed. However, if you have every intention of tossing all their shit, we raise our wine glass to you. And really, it just takes one instance of actual follow-through for kids to get it. So if you're the threatening type, hang onto that threat until you REALLY need it. Then bust it out, round up all their crap, and chuck it. Next time, don't even say anything. Just silently walk to the kitchen and get a trash bag. Watch how fast they knock it off, it'll blow your mind.
"Oh, this is annoying you? Then I'm going to do it even more!" That's what goes through a toddler's mind when they hear that. Truth be told, there are SO VERY MANY TIMES we want to yell and scream and throw shit. So many! If you've ever done it, then you know that it feels so good. It is cathartic as hell, and we do not blame a pissed off toddler for wanting to get their rage out in that manner. Sure, it can be frustrating to be on the receiving end of it. And some toddlers throw surprisingly hard. But if they need to do it, leave the room and let them do it. No reason you have to stand there and watch, you can eat candy in the other room while they're distracted.
We know it's tempting, but bribing a tantruming toddler is a bad idea. Save the bribery for potty training and the occasional bedtime. During a toddler tantrum, don't pull out the treats and toys for bribes. It might be effective, but you'll be setting a very dangerous precedent. The next time they get that bubbling rage feeling in their belly, they're going to remember how quickly mom folded during the last tantrum, and they will 100% do it just for the damn cookie. We underestimate toddlers - they are manipulative little geniuses, and don't you ever forget it. They sure as hell won't.
Your kid has literally NO idea why they're losing their shit at that moment. When you make their behavior a personal attack on you, it'll likely upset them even more. You've seen toddlers lose it in public, right? They literally DO NOT CARE who their wrath is directed toward. You could be the goddamn Queen of England and they'd still be throwing a tantrum. It's not you, it's them, yada yada yada. We know it's hard not to take it to heart, but really, this is not about you. Unless you did something to piss them off, like make them take a nap. Then it is totally about you, sorry.
LOL at trying to reason with a kid during a toddler tantrum. Now is not the time! During a tantrum, a toddler is quite possible the most unreasonable creature on the planet. It's like trying to reason with cats or rocks or the sun. They are not going to listen to you, they are not going to hear you, they are not going to sit down and discuss this with you. Toddlers are the most unreasonable creatures on earth when they're perfectly well-behaved. But sure, let's expect our Tasmanian Devil children to stop and talk about their feelings like they're not insane.
Image: Geek & Sundry
Oooooooh boy, that's going to have the complete opposite effect. Honestly, we should never compare our children to one another (at least, not to their face). It plants all kinds of sibling rivalry seeds, and one day we're going to need them to team up and care for us in our old age. So we want to make sure they love each other, right? During a toddler tantrum, don't point out how well-behaved their sibling is. Plus, you know that one day, probably very soon, the roles will be reversed and your angel child will love their ever-loving mind about something dumb.
Well, yes. They're probably exhausted! And all the screaming and yelling and kicking certainly isn't helping matters. But they're past the point of being helped. During a toddler tantrum, pointing out all the reasons they're having a tantrum is pointless. The reason is no longer important, you've crossed over to the other realm now. Plus there is no reason to point out the very obvious. We know they're tired, they will never admit to being tired, so just let them tantrum themselves out until they pass out cold on the floor. Which, if they're REALLY tired, will take about three minutes.
OK, so we know this list has been pretty lighthearted to far, but this one is actually kind of serious and important. When your toddler is having a tantrum, they are not being bad. It is not because they're a bad kid or have anger issues or are the spawn of Satan. It's because they're a toddler! This is what toddlers do. And kids. And tweens. Teens, too, we're afraid. The regular, run-of-the-mill toddler tantrum is not indicative of your kid being bad, and we should never speak to them in a way that makes them start to think they are bad.
What are you, some kind of narc? How would you feel if someone reported all your less-than-stellar life moments to those nearest and dearest to you? That's just a dick move, hands down. Now, we definitely encourage parents to share these crappy parenting moments with each other. It's also a chance to trade battle secrets, like what worked for you during a toddler tantrum. But you would look like a huge asshole if you ran off and told your toddler's friends that they cried until they puked because you took away the drum set. Snitches get stitches, parents, remember that.
We get it, you want to turn the tables and try to appeal to their love for you. Makes sense! But no. Not during a toddler tantrum. AFTER a toddler tantrum, for sure. It's always a good time to talk about how our behavior makes other people feel, and it's a great lesson to learn at a young age. But during a toddler tantrum? They literally could not care less how you feel, and probably wouldn't even notice if you were on actual fire. You are but a witness to their total destruction, you are not the focus of their attention.
We know it's hard! You want to help them, comfort them, try to talk them down and out of tantrum danger zone. But honestly, you're just wasting your time and breath. A toddler tantrum just has to run its course. It's like a cold or a tornado. You can't stop it once it hits, and you just have to pray that the damage isn't too bad. Make sure there's nothing of value they can destroy, remove anything they can hurt themselves with, and walk away. Step outside for some fresh air and to calm yourself down. It'll be over soon, and they will act like nothing happened (which is the most infuriating part of it all, omg).