My 2-year-old daughter will charm you with her infectious giggle and the cutest "surprised" face you've ever seen. She's a kick in the pants... you know, when she's not being an utter hellbeast. I think this dichotomy is something that most toddler parents will understand, too. In fact, I'm betting that if you have a 2- or 3-year-old adorable little tyrant in your home, you will absolutely recognize the following epic tantrums every toddler throws.
I lucked out with an easy baby. Things changed about the time she turned 15-months-old, though, and right when my husband started his year-long deployment because of course. It started in Target, as these things do, when I refused to buy her the teddy bear she'd pulled off the shelf. Suddenly, my sweet baby girl was wailing and flailing on the linoleum floor. Nothing to see here, folks. These days, her tantrums are so frequent, they hardly faze me. I know I'm going to get one when we leave a play date or I take something away or if I'm talking to someone really important on the phone. It's just a part of daily life.
Sure, there are "official" types of tantrums according to the experts, including "attention tantrums" and "command avoidance tantrums," but I think parents will find the following fits to be a little more recognizable:
The "You're Doing Something Besides Paying Attention To Me" Tantrum
Nothing turns a placid toddler playing quietly into a full-speed tantrum train quite like mom making a phone call. You can pretty much guarantee the insurance company will overhear your child sobbing, "Mommy, you play blocks wis meeeeee!"
Heaven forbid you attempt to prepare a meal. I've made more than one dinner dragging my daughter along as she rides on my foot, screaming bloody murder.
The "Ran Out Of My Favorite Snacks" Tantrum
Lesson #567 in caring for young children: do not — I repeat — do not run out of goldfish. Hell hath no fury like a toddler with no graham crackers. If you have the wrong snack (I want the purple fruit strip, not the red one, you monster) or say "no" (I don't care that I just had dinner), well, I can't help you there either.
The "We Just Got In The Car & I Need Something Immediately" Tantrum
If you left the house approximately five minutes ago and some little precious person in the backseat needs to pee, I'm guessing you have a toddler. My personal favorite is when my daughter cries because I can't help her put on the shoes and socks I didn't want her to take off in the first place.
For my kid, dropping anything (water bottle, lovey, the f*cking sticker off her banana) in the car constitutes an emergency. And I was recently punished for refusing to play catch with a stuffed hippo. While driving.
The "You Said No" Tantrum
I don't care how reasonable your "no" is. You could be telling your toddler that they can't go outside in below freezing temperatures or eat styrofoam or that they can't get a tattoo (even if they want it to say "mom"), that "no" is like nails on a chalkboard to tiny ears. Cue fury.
The "I Said 'No' But Meant 'Yes' & Vice Versa" Tantrum
Toddlers are nothing if not indecisive. Let's do a little test. Ask your kid if they want something to drink. I'll bet my last bottle of cabernet they say "no" and then immediately throw a fit because you didn't give them a glass of water.
Last night, after reading approximately 342 books, I told my daughter to pick the last one. She requested Hansel and Gretel. "Are you sure you don't want Jack and the Beanstalk?" I asked. "Yes," she replied. Halfway through, she slammed the book shut and announced, "I want Jack." I held my ground and put her to bed, but it was not pretty.
The "Not The Red Socks, The Blue Socks" Tantrum
To say that toddlers are particular is a gross understatement. They like what they like, and they don't want anything else. As in, I will not eat my favorite lunch of peanut butter and jelly unless it is on the Minnie Mouse plate. Or, I can't believe you put my favorite blankie in the wash and don't try to trick me with this replacement that doesn't smell like my urine.
The "Because We're In Public" Tantrum
I'm pretty sure a toddler will choose to have an absolute conniption for no reason other than that other people are watching. It's like they know you're not going to do anything about it, or even better, that you'll give in. And that's what makes them masters of mommy manipulation.
The "I Do It Myself" Tantrum
Toddlers have an independent streak, which leads to the "all by myself" stage. Thanks to Murphy's Law, they will insist on getting into their car seat or dressing themselves, but only when you have somewhere to be. This is great for their self-confidence and development, but not so good when you have a doctor's appointment to get to.
Unfortunately, "helping" in this situation only invites an outburst of epic proportions.
The "I'm Frustrated By My Lack Of Fine & Gross Motor Skills" Tantrum
The above is made worse by the fact that toddlers don't necessarily have the developmental ability to do everything they want to do. So, they're going to get mad at you when they bump their head on the car door or get their head stuck in their shirt, even though they insisted on doing it themselves.
My daughter recently threw herself on the floor because she couldn't put together a 3-piece puzzle. Frustration central.
The "But I'm Not Tired" Tantrum
We used to have an awesome (and easy) bedtime routine. Then my kid turned 2 and her dad came home from Afghanistan, and it all went to hell in a handbasket. These days, going "night-night" is a tear-filled sh*tshow.
Why, in the name of all that is holy, do exhausted toddlers resist the one thing that would make them feel better? Because they're toddlers, that's why. They're void of reason and accountability. If you can remember that, you just might survive the toddler years.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.