If one of my coworkers or friends just started screaming in my face during a conversation or throwing things at me, I’d probably stop talking to them and get out of there. It’s the kind of thing that would ruin a friendship. I wouldn’t interact with that person at work anymore. However, when one of my kids does it to me, I have to work through it with them.
Sometimes we have this type of coworker or friend and we deal with it, but in general we stay away from them. This kind of behavior is typically blamed on poor parenting, so it’s really up to us parents to correct it early on and make sure our kids turn out to be decent people. Teaching kids how to deal with their feelings and process emotions when they are toddlers is essential for raising happy, healthy adults. Still, sometimes our kids are just a-holes and there’s nothing we can do about it.
These are the myriad ways toddlers find to push our buttons and drive us crazy.
All kids are great screamers, but toddlers find the perfect blend of high pitch, breath control, and prolonged duration that causes ear ruptures and migraines. Sometimes the scream can be avoided if caught just in time, but more often, toddlers just want to scream and it’s the only way they know to express themselves. Nothing can stop it until they work it out. Noise canceling headphones help, but aren’t even always enough.
No. Nope. Nah.
Parents want their kids to learn words until they figure out “no”. No other word pervades, spreading like a virus into every conversation. Want to head to bed? No! Want to give them only four apples? No! Can they share a toy with others? No! It’s like dealing with a used car salesman sometimes. I’ve tried just yelling back yes, or seeing which one of us would get tired of saying yes / no first, but they always win. They always will.
When toddlers get frustrated, they suddenly become professional baseball pitchers. My kid can’t throw a ball two feet to me when we are playing, but when I won’t read the same book for the sixth time, he has the ability to hit me square between the eyes with a three pound book from across a twelve foot room. Maybe I can at least make some money off of them in the MLB if I just tell them they have to go to bed instead of playing the game.
I’d like to think my kids just don’t know their own strength, but these are after all kids who can’t even lift their feet up a step yet. When they get mad, they become MMA champions. We just need the octagon. They whack, smack, and punch each other, both parents, the dog, stuffed animals, and even themselves. You can try to stop them, but someone is getting bruised and it usually isn’t them.
Number of times my dog has nipped at my children because they stepped on his tail or got too close: 2. Number of times he’s actually bit them: 0. Number of times they’ve bitten him (this week): 5. Plus the dog goes to the bathroom outside. We should have got more dogs. Kids bite to resolve their differences. It’s like rock, paper, scissors for them. At this point, at least weekly we get a call about someone getting bit in daycare. We just ask if our kid did the biting first now. And these little sharks hurt! I have toddler teeth shaped marks up and down my arms.
How can a 25 pound child become immovable at will? When toddlers don’t want to do something, they become marble statues. My boys will just stand still, frozen, refusing to move if they don’t get their way. At least unlike biting or hitting, this can just be walked away from. Unfortunately, they like to do this in public, making me look like a terrible parent, leaving me to either leave them or sit there begging and pleading. I’ve also had to leave my kids in the kitchen, hide in another room and try to throw my voice, making it sound like I went upstairs without them just to convince them to head upstairs. Having a dog they can chase also helps with this. It doesn’t help when the dog is just as stubborn.
Doing the opposite
I’m not sure if refusing to do something, or just doing the opposite is worse. I ask one of the boys to share a toy with his brother and he will sometimes do it. Others, he will just run across the room clutching the toy like a running back in the Super Bowl. Or he might just throw it somewhere no one can get to it. They’re just terrible people sometimes. Parents quickly learn not to tell their kids not to do something unless they actually want it done. You can’t always rely on reverse psychology, but it definitely works sometimes.
Toddlers suck. They are moody, intolerant, and volatile. Any new skill they learn like moving their arms, talking, and throwing all become ways they express their displeasure at the smallest thing. But every time they whack their brother or shout “no” just makes the times they go over to their brother and give him a huge hug so much sweeter. Because toddlers are a-holes, but they are also the most loving, happy, amazing little creatures too and will constantly surprise you. Sometimes, they are the best too.