“Toddler” is Dutch for “Tiny Tyrant”

Let’s start with a disclaimer: I have a fit thrower. He is two and he throws tantrums with the best of them. I am quite sure that the word “toddler” means “tiny tyrant” in Dutch. He throws fits over completely ridiculous things. He wants to wear the same basketball shirt every day. He wants to eat candy and barbeque chips for breakfast. He wants to wear shorts when it is snowing outside. That being said, let me go ahead and give you some advice on how to get your child to throw less fits. (If you start laughing hysterically and discontinue reading at this point, no judgment here.)
Kids throw fits for two reasons: 1. They aren’t getting what they want. 2. They aren’t getting what they want because they think you don’t know what they want. So we are going to discuss the latter. (If you know how to eliminate the first reason, call me….immediately.)

Ever read Knuffle Bunny? It is the greatest book ever. It is about this little girl who goes out on a walk with her dad. While at the laundromat she forgets her favorite toy. She attempts to tell him but he responds with something like “That’s right, we’re going home.” (The first time my husband read this, I heard him mutter “typical dad response” to himself) The little girl loses her mind. Why did she lose it? Because she attempted to tell him something and he didn’t understand her. It wasn’t so much that she didn’t have her bunny, but that she wanted her bunny and her dad didn’t understand her enough to help her. Kind of like the fit Hank threw last night because he wanted pop.

Me: Do you want chocolate milk or white milk?
Hank: I want pop.
Me: No. Do you want chocolate milk or white milk?
Hank loses his mind.

What did I do wrong here? Yeah, don’t worry, I realize he is a monster. But I made the error on this one. This is how it should have gone:

Me: Do you want chocolate milk or white milk?
Hank: I want pop.
Me: I know you want pop, but we are having milk. Do you want chocolate milk or white milk?

*Side note. He never actually gets pop, so I am not sure where this came from.


Do you see the difference? I acknowledged what he wanted. I let him know I understood him but he still wasn’t going to get it. I have a TON of parents ask me how to handle these situations when they are dealing with kiddos who are late talkers. “When they use real words to ask me something, should I give it to them immediately? I mean, I really want to reward them for talking.” No. Do that and you will be living with a tyrant even worse than mine. But do make sure that you let them know you understood them. Even if the word isn’t clear, if you understand them, make sure they know it! This will get your kiddo to request things a little more frequently and even when they don’t get what they want, they will feel confident about their wants being understood.

toddler tyrant 1
The time I had to say “I know you want to scoop outside like that, but it is too cold.  You have to wear a coat.”

Wait. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is going to stop all the toddler tantrums you are having at your house. I mean, that’s hilarious. It’s going to take the edge off. Instead of wondering if 9 am is an appropriate time for a chardonnay, you might not have that thought until around noon.

toddler tryant 5
Hank is actually a delightful child that brings happiness and passion to every day.  Some days just have more passion than others.

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