Dear Parents of Lively Little Toddlers, Keep At It...

Dear Parents of Lively Little Toddlers,

Hi! My name is April, and I am the mother of a VERY lively, animated and stubborn toddler. He is the light and joy of my life.  He is also the biggest pain in my ass sometimes. He is just over two-years-old and insists on learning pretty much everything for himself. 85% of the time he is a very good boy, the other 15%... he is a textbook terrible-two toddler. His favorite textbook activities include...but certainly are not limited to:

  • Saying, "No!" to just about everything. Sometimes he even says it to ice cream cones!
  • Not listening when I say, "Come here, please!"
  • Staying awake well past bedtime. 
  • Using the kitchen drawers as stairs.
  • Trying to draw on the walls, TV, floor... any surface really, with any utensil that will work.
  • Opening the freezer to pull out a popsicle when I am not looking.
  • Washing a thousand cars in the bathroom sink.
  • Climbing anything climb-able.
  • Running away from me when I am trying to catch him.
  • Throwing a tantrum over something silly- think OSCAR worthy fish out-of-water flopping routine..
The list goes on, but you get the idea...

My toddler lives in a constant state of experiment with the world. Most times, he insists on learning things for himself, regardless of my opinion about the activity. Nothing is more frustrating for me than when my son repeatedly refuses to listen, and just do whatever he wants, especially over the same activity...

Just yesterday, he ran away from me, and refused to listen. Eventually, I caught him, had a talk with him, and hoped the issue was resolved. NOT EVEN CLOSE! The little shit ran away from me again within five minutes. This time I took him into the house and made him sit in his time-out chair. Would you believe, not a half hour later he was off AGAIN?!  I thought I was going to lose my mind.  Once again we had the talk, a time-out and this time, I took his favorite toy away and put it in time-out too.  Yet again, later that day, he took off, but this time when I yelled STOP! and, Come back here, please, HE DID IT!!  Holy crap!  He came back!  I squatted down and gave him a big hug, and told him what a good boy he was for listening. Both of us were beaming!

Now, will he run away from me again? Maybe... probably. But he knows better, and so far he hasn't.  Moral of the story: I kept at, stayed consistent with the rules, and even though I thought it was going to drive me crazy, it worked!  I see the light at the end of the terrible toddler phase tunnel. I know it will probably go away from time-to-time, but it's there, and one day both the kid and I will emerge.

I say it all of the time, parenting is hard. It takes unfathomable amounts of patience, hard work and perseverance, however, just like with everything, the hard work pays off, and the reward is so worth it.  Having my son listen when I ask him to do something is so wonderful. Yes, it came after hours of constant battles, but it came, and when it did, we both smiled and felt great. I realize he loves being a good boy as much I love it.

Parents, we are all in this together. I feel your pain, like I am sure you feel mine. It's all about keeping at it. We HAVE to keep at. We have to continue to reprimand and weather the toddler storm with patience and consistency. We have to continue to "parent", even if it's easier sometimes to let them raise hell and draw on the walls. It pays off. The yelling and constant reprimands slowly but surely are reduced. Even when a new experiment is tried, they know from past ones, that NO!, means, NO! and that when we give that look, or count down from three, if they keep misbehaving, shit will get real.

Moms. Dads. We will survive the terrible twos, threes and fours, and when we do, we will have some seriously badass children to show for it. Thanks to all of our hard work, patience and perseverance, those little badasses will be kind, considerate and well-behaved (for the most part) members of society, that will go on to make us proud. Sure, by then we may be completely grey, wrinkled and exhausted, but no worries, those shining little humans will take care of us one day, and when they do, that will be our chance to get them back for the all the hell they gave us!



April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com


Anonymous said...

Thank you, I needed this. I have the same problem with my daughter constantly doing the same thing she just got in trouble for. But you are right, she does slow down and listen after the millionth time. I can't wait until we get out of the toddler phase!

Kristy J said...

Well said lady!! We have days like the one you described and right before I'm about to yank all my hair out and buy a one way ticket outta here he listens, gives me a kiss and a hug...I melt and we start all over again. I know in the end all of the frustration and tears will be worth it. It's nice to know others are struggling right along with me.

Nicole K said...

Amen! I needed this! Knowing you're not the only crazy mom out there who is ready to lose her shit, is a very great feeling! Parenting is hard, it's the toughest thing I've ever done, BUT, it's amazing and well worth it all in the same. Thank you for sharing :)

April McCormick said...

You and me both. Well... I keep telling myself to enjoy this time, since all have their challenges, but damn... the constant not listening is SUPER annoying!!!

April McCormick said...

Thanks, lady! That's it, you just start over again, and hope this round will not last as long or be as annoying as he last round of mis behaving.

April McCormick said...

Thanks, Nicole! Oh, no, you are def not the only mom out there on the verge of losing her shit. I'm right there with you. And you are right, it's SO amazing. I just rocked the sweetest, kindest, most beautiful little darling to sleep. Now, if only he would stay that way all the time...

Alissa said...

Great to know we are all not alone!! I feel like a broken record CONSTATLY telling James not to do this, or to do that, to only have him laugh in my face or tell me "No Mama, mama NAUGHTY". Totally my fault... we are trying not to use the word naughty in our house. I had no idea that he got that word from me until I said it without thinking.

April McCormick said...

I think I should enlist a DJ to make a rad mix of my broken record-ness. Maybe then I would enjoy hearing myself repeat the same things OVER AND OVER... AND OVER again!

Anonymous said...

Thank you! My lord, I thought I was the only one that spent entire days repeating myself at varying volumes.

Shellie White said...

I have a cotton ball system that works REALLY well with my kids! They earn them for good behavior and lose them for bad behavior (along with regular discipline and punishment). At the end of the week, whichever kid(s) get 13 for the whole week then they win a Sonic slushie of their choice on our Saturday trip to town. :) It has worked like a charm! Even my 2.5 year old understands the concept........he carries his cotton ball to his jar with his mouth and then spits it in....it's disgusting.

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