Courtesy of Ambrosia Brody

I Recorded Everything That Made My Toddlers Cry For 1 Week, & It Was An Emotional Journey

By
Share
Ad failed to load

Trying to figure out what sets off a tantrum can be tedious. Sometimes, I can figure out the reasoning behind a tantrum immediately: if my kids have gone too long without eating, if they're not getting enough sleep, if the dog licked their faces. In these situations, I am pretty good at stopping a full-on meltdown. But other times, I am completely lost, like the time my 2 ½-year-old threw a fit because I'd put the strawberries next to the watermelon on her plate, or when my 4-year-old could not deal with the thought of the dogs belonging to all of us as a family and not solely being her dogs.

To figure out exactly what causes my kids to throw tantrums, I decided to spend a week recording everything that makes my toddlers throw tantrums, an experiment that was loosely inspired by the Tumblr blog Reasons My Son Is Crying. Almost immediately, I realized I'd have to step up my problem-solving game.

Reason #1: My 4-year-old’s glider plane got stuck on the roof.

On the first day, the girls were playing with two little glider planes they'd received in a birthday party gift bag when one flew directly onto the roof. My little one said she would go get it, but her older sister said, “No one will ever be able to get it, ever!” and ran inside the house. It was very dramatic and I had to ask her to breathe while I explained that sometimes, balls, kites and little planes end up on the roof, but maybe a big gust of wind would push it off the roof one day. "Maybe the neighborhood cat will help us out and nudge the plane off the roof," I told her. This worked, because she started to laugh and she forgot all about the plane.

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of Ambrosia Brody

Reason #2: She wants to be a real cat.

My older daughter is obsessed with cats, and she's always trying to be one. She really wants a cat, but since I’m allergic to cats there is no way that we are getting her one. We gave her a stuffed cat (Dreamy from Disney's Sleeping Beauty) and we let her pet any neighborhood cat that comes into our yard, but recently she’d been dressing as a cat and asking us to call her Rosie. I have no freaking idea why.

Ad failed to load

This week, she decided she wanted to be a real cat. When I told her she was a human and not a cat, she was not having it. I told her she could pretend to be a cat, and we could pet her and treat her like a cat sometimes, but nope. I could not solve this one, so I just let her calm down on her own.

Reason #3: She stepped on my foot.

It was close to bedtime, and everything was setting off my oldest daughter. At one point, she stepped on my foot and she started crying because she thought I was mad at her. Even after I told her I wasn’t, she just kept saying that I was. I promised her there was no way I was going to be mad at her for accidentally stepping on my foot, but she was so upset. All I could do was tell her I wasn't mad and give her a hug, but she didn’t believe me, which made me feel horrible.

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of Ambrosia Brody

Reason #4: My youngest was upset that her sister was not sharing her new erasers, and my oldest was mad that she had to share her erasers

When it comes to teaching my girls how to share, there is no way to make them both happy. As an only child, I struggle with teaching them to share, because I've always believed that some things should belong to just you. For instance, my daughter just purchased new donut-shaped erasers for school, and the youngest wanted them.

Ad failed to load
Reason #7: We didn’t let her put her fork by her eye.

Personally, I don’t believe my daughter should have to share her school supplies, since they are hers and hers alone, but she wanted to use her little sister’s ice cream erasers, so I figured it should go both ways. That did not make either of them happy, and eventually, they had to take a break from the erasers and play with something else just so I could get the crying to stop.

Reason #5: The little one wanted to come down from her high chair, after she had just explicitly asked me to put her in the high chair.

OK, what? Seriously, why would she cry the second I give her what she wants?

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of Ambrosia Brody

Reason #6: She wanted more food, but "different food."

My little one was not eating her dinner of chicken and cucumbers. She refused to eat, and when we told her there was no way she was getting something different, she had a meltdown and started to throw her food. Of course, we ended up giving her chicken nuggets, since we didn’t want her to go to bed hungry, but I was not happy about it.

Ad failed to load
My daughter had specifically asked for a turkey and cheese sandwich, but then she refused to eat it because she thought it was "scary."

Reason #7: We didn’t let her put her fork by her eye.

For some reason, my little one wanted to rub the fork prongs close to her eye. (Seriously, why do toddlers love to shove things up their nose or place sharp things by their eyes?). We told her to get the fork away from her eye, and when she didn’t, I took it away from her. Judging by the sound of her screams, the neighbors probably thought I was torturing her, but nope — I was just trying to prevent her from gouging her own eye out.

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of Ambrosia Brody

Reason #8: We took away her archery set after she told her sister that she was going to hit her in the face.

My youngest daughter has a Merida bow and arrow inspired by the movie Brave, and I had to take the bow and arrow away after she threatened to hit her sister and the dogs with it. This was after I told her that if she said that again, I’d take the toy away from her, and there was no way I was going to wait until she hit one of them in the face.

Ad failed to load

My little one is all about testing boundaries these days, so I believe that when it comes to disciplining her, follow-through is important .I explained to her that I had to take it away from her, since she was not listening to my words. She was not happy and ended up throwing a little fit.

Reason #9: The food was too scary.

My daughter had specifically asked for a turkey and cheese sandwich, but then she refused to eat it because she thought it was "scary." Of course, I offered her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead, because I wanted her to eat, but "scary"? Turkey and cheese? Really?

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of Ambrosia Brody

Reason #10: Her sister stepped on her foot.

My older girl was upset that her younger sister had stepped on her foot, because she thought she had done it on purpose and wanted an apology. (To be clear, her sister was barefoot and she was wearing shoes, so there's no way in hell that it possibly could have hurt.) The little one was upset that she had to apologize. I told them they both needed to work it out themselves.

Ad failed to load
I was almost ready to start throwing a tantrum of my own.

Reason #11: My daughter's friend was not at the gym and she wanted to stay until she arrived.

My daughter is apparently friends with a little girl at the gym day care, but when we went this week, she was not there. My husband and I tried to explain that maybe her friend was on vacation and that was the reason she was not there, but my daughter pouted and cried, “I want to see her today and I don’t want to leave.” Sorry, but there’s no way I’m sticking around the gym waiting for a little girl (who I’ve never seen, by the way) to show up.

Ad failed to load

I tried to explain that her friend might be there next week, but honestly, how do you convince a toddler to patiently wait until next week to see her friend? There’s no way she would accept that. By the third time I tried to explain that there was no way of knowing if/when her friend was coming to the gym, I was ready to start throwing a tantrum of my own.

Courtesy of Ambrosia Brody

Reason #12: She did not want to swim with us because she feels we are giving her a swim lesson.

Both of our girls are in swim lessons, and they have a love/hate relationship with them: they enjoy the free time in the pool, but they dislike the one-on-one instruction in the morning, because it requires them to put their faces in the water. They'll do it with their teacher, but they won't do it with us. So when we were playing in the pool and I made my daughter put on a Puddle Jumper, she was having none of it, because she thought I was trying to give her a swim lesson. I tried to compromise by letting them swim half the time with a Puddle Jumper and the other half without, but she was still suspicious that I was conspiring to give her a swim lesson.

Ad failed to load
I realized something important: I will never have a solution for every meltdown and tantrum, so I shouldn't pretend that there is one.

Reason #13: She broke my glasses.

My 2-year-old loves to play dress-up as much as her older sister does, but she isn’t the best at not using items I deem off-limits. This weekend, she put on my sunglasses and dropped them. I told her to give them to me since she wasn’t supposed to have them in the first place, and she was not having it. She clenched the glasses in her little hand and told me I was being naughty. There’s no way to compromise in a situation where set boundaries have already been crossed, so I just took them away from her.

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of Ambrosia Brody

The Results

After recording the myriad reasons why my daughters throw tantrums, I realized something important: I will never have a solution for every meltdown and tantrum, so I shouldn't pretend that there is one. Sometimes, I have to accept that I cannot provide a rational answer or compromise that will make my girls happy, because they are behaving irrationally — and that's OK, because after all, they're toddlers, so they're not expected to be rational in the first place.

Ad failed to load

This experiment also helped me realize how quickly I need to think on my feet and lean on humor and distraction whenever possible. Every time I tried to distract them with a joke, it worked and they started to settle down. This is a great tactic, because I'd much rather hear my girls laugh than cry, but I also understand that they're not going to stop throwing tantrums for no reason anytime soon. It's all part of growing up.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

15 Baby Names With Unique Nicknames, So Your Family Has Options

I love a good diminutive name, also known as a nickname. I believe I’m partial to them because of my own name, Abigale, but I go by Abi. And since they’re both uniquely spelled, everyone thinks my name is pronounced Ah-bee for some reason — but even …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

The Entire Family Can Enjoy These Movies & Shows Coming To Netflix In June

It's just one of those sad facts of life: every month, shows and movies vanish from Netflix, their varied excitements no longer at your fingertips. But luckily the streaming service is always prepared to fill that content void with lots of new things…
By Megan Walsh

The Reason Why Babies Smile At You Will Seriously Make You Smile

Whether you're currently the recipient of your own baby's sweet smiles or you just seem to be a magnet for baby grins in general, you might find yourself wondering why babies are always smiling at you. Sure, you could be a 'smile whisperer' but scien…
By Kate Miller

8 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say That, Yes, You Are Their Favorite

For a baby to show a preference for a specific person is not only normal, but an essential part of their development. Babies need to form strong attachments to their caregivers for their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Usually, but not alw…
By Kimmie Fink

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills
)}