STOP Calling Your Toddler An Asshole

Seriously just stop. It’s not funny and I guarantee little ears are hearing the words you’re speaking over them.

As my daughter is approaching 2, I’m starting to see some of the tell tale toddlerisms come to life. (Not that I am a stranger to those things…I work with kids) And let me tell you something; I am so thankful I am not a toddler.

My toddler isn’t an asshole, my toddler is still learning, and it’s our jobs as parents to teach them. And by teach I do not mean to just talk at them. Show them.

By no means am I parent of the year but I am a Behavior Analyst, and *knock on wood* have yet to even raise my voice at my 23 month old. (Except for a few instances in which she was in immediate danger–fingers in outlets type of thing)

My daughter falls to the floor and cries when I wont allow her to have chocolate for breakfast. She doesnt understand. She doesn’t understand why she could have chocolate last night but now she can’t. Their little brains can’t wrap themselves around concepts such as time or place or reason. Those are things we learn.

She doesn’t understand why I’m making her take a nap, she just wants to play. She has no idea that the reason she’s feeling cranky and emotionally out of control is because she needs sleep. She doesn’t understand how important sleep is for her developing brain and body.

She cries when people she doesn’t know talk to her. Do I get mad? Absolutely not. She doesn’t know them. I mean seriously how would we feel if everytime we went out somewhere some stranger (sometimes multiple strangers at once) was in our face and talking at us. Speaking gibberish at us. Which leads me to my next point…

Toddlers don’t understand all the words we are saying to them. Imagine being able to only pick out certain words that are being spoken to you, and then having someone get mad at you for not doing what they want.

My toddler cries because she tries to communicate but we don’t always understand her. Imagine knowing what you want, saying the words, and still not being understood. How infuriating that must be. Having to repeat yourself over and over just for someone to tell you they don’t know what you’re saying, or even worse saying something dismissive like “oh yeah okay honey.”

My toddler cries because her body doesn’t always do what she wants it to. She knows what she wants to do (put the puzzle piece in, lace the beads, run, jump, climb) but sometimes she just can’t make those fingers do what she wants. You ever have one of those days where you drop literally everything you pick up? It’s so annoying. I imagine that’s what it might feel like to be a toddler.

My toddler cries when I go to work or sometimes even when I leave a room. She does not understand the concept of work. She doesnt know that I need to work so I can afford to do fun things with her like the zoo. She doesnt understand the concept of money or bills. She doesn’t even know for certain that I’m going to come back to her when I leave the room or leave the house. When I walk away from her she sees her mommy, best friend, protecter, kisser of boo boos, food source, and whole world leaving and it causes anxiety. That’s what we are to our kids; their whole world. How scary it must be to see it leave.

Toddlers are quickly turning in to people. They’re not babies anymore. They’re developing likes, dislikes, opinions, and more complex feelings that yet again they dont understand. And so so many times we stifle those dislikes or opinions because it doesn’t suit us or we “don’t have time.”

All of this on top any teething that may be happening, disrupted sleep, anxiety, or pain our kids might be dealing with day to day. We expect the world to stop when we have a bad day. We get annoyed. We get short. We slam doors. We ask to be left alone. And sometimes even we adults break down and cry. So why would we hold our children to different, higher standards than we hold even ourselves, who are supposed to be well rounded fully functioning adults? The answer is we shouldn’t.

So be patient. Be kind. Be understanding. And stop yelling at them when they’re having a hard time. We are supposed to be their calm in the storm.

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