Spirited. Impulsive. Insistent. Wilful. If you look up the word “toddler” in the dictionary I am pretty sure you’ll find these descriptions. I have another term that sums up these little dictators: explosive.
I should know, I am currently living with one very fiery toddler. She’s reached all her milestones with overt impatience. She crawled early, walked early and is an early adopter of the Terrible Two’s. At 18 months she’s a seasoned professional! Our battles are endless and require the skills of a bomb squad to defuse them. Here are eight things guaranteed to set her off:
1. The word “No”
Nothing sets off my toddler faster than this two-letter word. I have about a nano-second to prepare for the emotional assault. Her eyes fill with rage and she lets out a bellow. It doesn’t build, it instantly goes from zero to 100 decibels. And if looks could kill! I’ve tried reverse psychology, like saying yes, when I mean no, but I can’t do this publicly or I’ll get some very strange looks. Softer phrases like “not quite now” and “let’s just try this instead” have little impact. She’s no fool. I have ruined her fun and I will pay. Mind you, she feels entitled to say “no” about 75 times a day. Talk about double standards!
2. Offering food
Our little routine goes something like this. I present, she rejects. I persist, she resists. I attempt to coax, plead and beg, and she throws, wails and flails. It is exhausting. She eyes me suspiciously and shakes her head furiously as though a fatal poisoning is about to occur. As I valiantly perform aeroplane dives trying to get something healthy into her mouth, she stops me mid-flight, screaming for this “torture” to stop. Unless it’s chips or chocolate. Then she’s sweet as apple pie. If only she would eat apples …
3. Removing danger
I can’t get her to put food in her mouth, but dangerous objects are a “piece of cake”. While almost any dangerous object will do, she has her favourites. The “flavours” of the month (sorry for overdoing the food puns) are electrical cords, earphones, scissors, Lego, Sylvanian families, and just yesterday I found a padlock in her mouth. Removing any of these objects from her mouth results in a deafening wail. Perhaps I should invest in some noise cancelling headphones.
Read more about toddler tantrums:
- Drew Barrymore’s tantrum-busting tip is a brilliant (and easy) one to try
- 6 things to do when your toddler is throwing a tantrum
- 7 toddler tantrums all parents will know (and fear!)
4. Keeping her safe
Her taste for danger is evident in all areas of her life. My little thrill seeker has no interest in safety measures. Nothing enrages her faster than trying to strap her in to the pram, car seat or high chair. Given how often I need to strap her in, this torture is played out multiple times a day. She’s what you might call “safety-averse” and I am a terrible mother for imprisoning her.
5. Taking away my tampons
Her favourite time of the month is my least favourite time of the month. My tampons are a source of great intrigue and excitement for her. I get it; they’re colourful, easy to hold and come in a cute box. But she wants to unpack and unwrap them, stick them in her ears and “assist” me. I accept that when you live with a toddler all personal maintenance is exhibited in front of an audience, but there are some toilet trips I’d rather do alone. She’ll even clutch a cluster of them and take them wherever she goes – like a comfort toy. That gets some strange looks.
6. Nappy time
Don’t judge me but I don’t change her nappy unless absolutely necessary. Changing her nappy or getting her dressed requires Herculean efforts. She turns nappy time into a gymnastic event as she flips, flails and somersaults. The only difference between her and an Olympian is that she’s not smiling. She’s screaming. And she’s strong, really strong. I have to use full upper body force at times. On the upside it’s a strengthening exercise for me and at my age, weight resistance training is important.
7. Turning off the Wiggles
The obvious solution, of course, is to not turn the Wiggles on in the first place. But I have three other children and my little dictator thinks I exist solely for her. Occasionally I need to go to the toilet (my bladder control is weaker than my will) so my only option is to give her a dangerous object to play with, or pop on Hot Potato. I have a love/hate relationship with the Wiggles, but she is totally obsessed with the men in skivvies. They have an almost hypnotic effect on her, but as soon as it ends, BOOM, the fury is real. Her body goes into meltdown and her performance is truly Oscar worthy. Pavarotti, you think you’ve got some lungs!
8. Putting her to bed
At the end of a day filled with perpetual battles, the only thing still in tact is her will. Incredibly, she still has the strength to fight sleep. But fortunately she runs out of steam fairly quickly. Which is just as well, because my little Eveready battery is standing up in her cot at 4.45am, ready to start the day. Every. Single. Day.
Are you living with a mini dictator? What else sets your toddler off?
Michaela Fox is a freelance writer, blogger and mother of four. She shares the calm and chaos of motherhood on her blog Not Another Slippery Dip, and believes in ‘good-enough’ parenting. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.