Let’s Talk Irrational Toddler Behavior.

Some of the stuff toddlers do just doesn’t make any sense.  Some might say that is a consequence of their underdeveloped frontal lobes.  (Yup, I’m a doctor.  Of teeth.)  I say it’s a conspiracy of the small people to make all of us previously-sane adults completely and collectively lose our ever-loving minds.  You know what I’m talking about.

1.  Totally unreasonable screaming fits.

They start with some innocuous statement on your part and end with completely incoherent banshee screaming and howling on your toddler’s part, complete with kicking, screaming, lying down on the floor and bawling; hyperventilating and breath-holding; hitting and biting and kicking.  You know.  No big deal.

Let’s take a personal example from my own life.

Caroline and I are playing with puzzles on the living room floor.  I tell her, “I’m just going to go turn the oven on.”  The kitchen, in our apartment, is about three feet away from the living room floor.  She can still see me.  In fact, I can pretty much turn the oven on while still touching her.  Yet the response is a wildly panicked “AAAIIIEEEOOORRRGHHHH!!! NO MOMMY!!  NOOO!!  PEEEEASE!! NO TURN OVEN ON!! NO! NO! NO! NO!!!”  I swear, the neighbors are going to call DCF on me one of these days, just for trying to make a home-cooked meal for my kid.  It will be totally unfair and I hope you all will defend me.

2.  Refusing any and all life-sustaining food, except for Cheerios.

When Caroline was about a year old, she would eat anything.  I could chop up a block of tofu and she’d devour it with a smile.  Now her idea of the perfect dinner consists of a bowl of ketchup and a spoon.  I make her all kinds of delicious things: gorgonzola-bison sliders with baked sweet potato fries; grilled veggies with grape tomatoes, fresh basil, and goat cheese in a honey-balsamic dressing; chicken tikka masala with cucumber mint raita; pan-seared sea scallops with fresh mango salsa… I put whatever it is in front of her.  She looks at it.  ”Mommy, I have cereal?”


3.  Laughing whilst you try to discipline them.

Let’s take another example from my life.  Caroline knows she isn’t supposed to stand up in the tub.  She is going to slip and fall and smash her teeth and for God’s sake, I can’t handle a dental emergency with my own child, I’d freak out and turn into an incompetent pile of smush.  She stands up, grinning at me.  I say “sit down, Caro.”  She laughs maniacally and says “No mommy!  When mommy mad, I Caroline Anne.”  I say in Mom Voice, “Sit Down, Caroline Anne.”  She laughs so hard that she slips and falls, which is exactly what I was trying to prevent in the first place.  Then she cries and looks at me, betrayed, as if it’s my fault.

And all of this, friends, is why I add $15 for a box bottle of wine into my budget for everything.  Every meal, every purchase, every event.  It’s just self-preservation.  That’s all.  You understand.

Now, share your toddler’s irrational behaviors in the comments.  Really, do it.  I need to make sure I’m not alone here with the insanity.

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  1. by Hannah

    On June 10, 2011 at 12:30 am

    I think you nailed the main irrational behaviors but I’ll just add a couple more with my daughter.
    1. She is very particular and opinionated: will only wear the Elmo or Cookie Monster diapers, no to big bird, ernie, grover etc.
    2. She is demanding: “mommy, I want to paint.” I tell her not right now and she still asks me 80 more times and wants to know “why” every single time even though the answer doesn’t change.

    BTW It is pretty freakin’ funny that she understands you are angry when you use her full name!

  2. by Erinn

    On June 10, 2011 at 1:34 am

    I’m hungry. I’m hungry. I’m hungry. I’m hungry. (you get kid into kitchen) I’m hungry. I’m hungry. I’m hungry. I’m hungry. (starting to get frustrated that it takes two WHOLE minutes to make a peanut butter sandwich.) I’m hungry. I’m hungry. I’m hungry. (Sits down at table… Takes one bite.) I’m all done. Wanna get down.


  3. by CaliCat

    On June 10, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Our son picks who will read with him before bedtime, mommy or daddy. Sometimes he’ll change his mind on a dime:

    “Mommy read book.”


  4. by Erin

    On June 11, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    I’m happily Singing along to his favorite toddler-TV song. “NO Mommy. Don’t say that”!!

  5. by Miriam

    On June 12, 2011 at 3:29 am

    Funnily, I had just returned from picking up yet more CDs when I read this! My 2yr old has developed some sort of disorder which requires him to pull as many CDs from the tower and fling them on the floor as he can before a parent catches him!! It is infuriating! My other half is currently tranferring all music to our new ipod so this disorder will soon be stopped in its tracks!!! Never had this problem with our other one but then she doesn’t like sauces so we have a whole different trauma there! :o D

  6. by Whit

    On June 12, 2011 at 6:54 am

    Asks a question, could be as simple as, “Are we done?”. “Yes.” Question repeats, “Yup!”. Same question again. “Mmm hmmm.” Yet again, “Yes, we are done!” Basically this repeats until I have replied with every single possible affirmative response known to the English language.

  7. by Tanya

    On June 12, 2011 at 8:39 am

    toddler: (at bedtime) mama! I need a tuck!

    Me: ok, this is the last one. (commence tucking)

    Toddler: I can’t straighten out my blankie!

    Me: it’s straight, I just tucked you.

    Toddler: ok mama, night night.

    Me: good night, love you, sweet dreams

    30 seconds later, as soon as my butt meets couch…
    “mamaaaaaaaaa! I need a tuck!”

  8. by Julia

    On June 12, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    you are not alone!!! My daughter’s fits are so bad at times that I too worry the neighbors are going to call DCF on me! ESP when trying to put her to sleep… “NOOOO MOMMY PLEASE I WANT YOU MOMMMYY NOOOOOOOOOOOO WHYYYYYY!!” and as far as the meals go- glad I’m not alone!! Chloe used to eat and love everything, now all she wants is to eat ranch dressing by the spoon full! Her new favorite “trick” is crossing her arms, squinting her eyes then pointing one finger at me while she tells me off in a language I’m glad I don’t understand!!!!

  9. by jem

    On May 16, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Today, my son (2 years 3 months old) wet his pants and wanted to be changed, then didn’t want Mommy’s help, wouldn’t pull of his pants himself, then wanted Mommy’s help but wouldn’t let her do it. So I walk away, he pitches a fit… same thing all over again. It lasts almost half an hour then I lose my patience because he standing in wet and now soiled clothes for over half an hour and is playing this insane back and forth, I want to be changed, I don’t want to be changed game. No choice, I have to change him, so I do very much against his will. Try cleaning a poopy wet and screaming toddler, no fun – I had to lock the bathroom door. Once clean but not dressed I walked away again. He did the same thing screaming for his clothes, then not letting Mommy dress him, Thankfully that lasted only five minutes after Mommy sat down (not concerned since he is now clean). He decided he did actually want his pants and underwear on and brought them to me. Forty minutes later he was cleaned up from an accident. Give it five minutes, he’s due for another one. It makes no sense.