The toddler theory

It’s safe to say that right now, Mags is something else. I could use the word fezza, but let’s go with special as it seems a little more loving. When right now, at times, I am feeling so much less than that.

She’s been waking at night. That’s fine. But the crying not really awake, cannot be soothed kind of awake. The mornings start out angry. Man, angry toddler is a bastard to start your day to. There are demands, angry demands, requests for say, apple and yoghurt and then when that is presented to her, it’s WHAT THE HELL IS THIS? APPLES AND YOGHURT? HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND? And a few times, I have, I really have. When you spend your days being bossed around in an angry way, well it’s not good for the old head space.

I’ve been cranky. I’m trying to focus on getting healthy again so of course there’s headaches and withdrawals from sugar and carbs and all the things that I love. I’ve been getting frustrated at the freedom that Rob has, how he can go and go whatever he wants, whenever it seems without anyone asking why he has to go or have a tantrum, or how dare he even think of going without doing their hair first.

Headspace. Not good.

But I have been getting on with it, adult tantrums and all and funnily enough when I have been out hitting the pavement I have been thinking…exactly why exercise can be so good. All that thinking! I was reminded of this post from a few years ago now. About how as Mum’s we are so kind to our children, so loving and yet we allow ourselves to talk and treat ourselves in a way that would never be acceptable to us if we saw one of our own children doing it.

I saw this the other day, and loved it.

As much as I’m frustrated by Mags at the moment, her tantrums and demands, I know that it’s a all part of a leap forward in her development. She’ll come out the other side in a week or two with either some new words, or teeth, or skills. She needs to work through it, get angry, feel safe while she does so, get a cuddle a moment later. It’s all part of it.

And maybe, right now, I might need to do that too. I’m a little sick of my own bullshit and excuses that I have been making all winter: too cold, too dark, too whatever and just get on with it. Of course the self talk will try and talk me out of my comfort zone and that might make me have my own tantrum. Just ask Rob, I haven’t been much fun the last week or so. But maybe, if I get through it, I’ll come out the other side a little better.

I might start treating myself like I would my own angry toddler. With love. And patience and kindness. With boundaries and consequences, with extra sleep, more water. And perhaps request some cuddles along the way, as they always help.

Anyone else feeling a little like this too?
Or got any angry toddler on your hands?
I feel you, and I urge you to be kind to yourself. We’re all doing the best we can, right now.

I couldn’t find the source of this image beyond Pinterest – apologies to the artist.


  1. This is my household at the moment. Two year olds are tough plus I have a 4 month old which adds to the melting pot. I’m in that exact same headspace where you feel like your drowning in it all. We’ve been away eating crap and not exercising so hoping getting back into will help my head and make me calmer and more patient with myself and kids. Great post though, it was something I needed this morning

  2. It has been many years since I have dealt with an angry toddler. The joys of trying to fold an angry toddler into a carseat after listening to them scream their way around the supermarket as you desperately try & choose something that can pass as dinner before yet another person gives you ” the look”. I would go back there in a heartbeat though right now. I have a 14 year old & an angry teen knows how to scream at you the things planned to hurt most. Just as I took a deep breath & tried to keep it all together when my toddler screamed I now take a deep breath & try to keep my mouth shut knowing that her teenage screamed words come from a place of confusion & anxiety that manifest in anger. Toddler years are definately good practise for the years to come. You really do need to be kind to yourself

  3. I don’t have an angry toddler but I do have an ‘All sorts of emotional’ 18 year old who has realised that there is only two more weeks of her school life left and scary exams which will ultimately direct how the rest of her life will proceed…… I keep telling people we are currently in the trenches fighting one almighty battle but with love, tolerance, understanding and more love, we will all get through…. Good luck with the toddler,I am happy to be over that stage.

  4. Beth I could have written this! My just 3 year old is a nightmare. Waking every few hours overnight hysterical…and then so tired cranky in the morning – leg clamping me as I try to get ready for work and having tantrums about all the things. Apparently she’s a delight at childcare…. but I’m copping it from her big time. Like you I’m trying to get healthy at the moment, so I’m trying to get to the gym in the mornings but when I do by the time i come home it’s all gone off the rails – this self care shit is hard. But I know it’s important. It was SO good to read your words and know I’m not alone. And I do have an older child and I know this gets better and easier and I won’t be trying to put makeup on with a screaming child attached to my leg forever. So we breathe and plough on. Am I right?

  5. Oh Beth, I feel you. I came home to a chest heaving, red eyed Miss Two standing defiantly on the front lawn with Daddy watching from the front steps. Apparently, she wanted to go to the supermarket too. So much frustration in their little bodies!

  6. Oh Beth, definitely – yes to all of it. My children are 13 and 9 now, but we had a ‘threenager’ come to visit on the weekend, and boy, did it take me back ?. Self care is the thing, most definitely, and really good quality self care too, not shopping or wine. I wrote a post today about a life audit – creating a life with less shoulds and more space, because that totally counts as self care too.

  7. Take care of yourself Beth. Toddlers need to be able to be angry but they also need to learn that their behavior has consequences. “If you are kind and help me then when you want me to help you I will” Having older kids I believe that the patterns we establish for respectful relationships with toddlers are the ground work for respectful relationships with teens and adult children. And we all get it wrong and so long as we keep trying thats all anyone could ask of us as parents and people!

    Is Maggie at a stage where you could have a conversation about ‘how do you feel when I yell at you? does it make you feel good? well thats how i feel when you yell at me” Just a thought.

    • Thanks for sharing Claire – lots of talking here x

      • Sorry Beth, what I wrote sounded both judgmental & preachy. Iv just reread it & realised. I was on a quick break at work & didn’t edit properly. It’s absolutely obvious you & Rob are raising great kids. I just think it is harder now for parents to set limits for kids than it once was as we so want to nurture & do the absolute best job. Thanks so much for sharing with us

  8. Thanks for sharing Beth. Mr 3 is in this special stage at the moment too. So much stimulation from being home with his older brother over the holidays and wanting to be a big boy before he can be a big boy.
    Hopefully the calm that comes with time just he and I will reset us both. Thank goodness for the gorgeous weather than will enable us to get outside in the sunshine and do a few rides together.
    Hubby works from home too and I often feel jelly of his ability to come and go (though to meetings and managing phone calls).
    Breathe I say. Breathe and all that kind talk you speak of. Oh and gin. Always gin. ??

  9. Hi Beth. This is my household right now. Your example over apples is so frighteningly familar. Course the same scenario could also be applied to really any decision right now. There’s just so much rage and agression it can be shocking at times. But then as quickly as it starts she can be over it. I keep telling myself that she needs a safe space to rage and deal with the frustrations of gaining new skills. Boy it’s exhausting!

  10. I love how you make so much sense of things! I’m feeling similar frustrations, 2 yr old demands and almost 4 yr old emotions and 6 yr old who thinks he is the principal of our house. ? But yes, recognising you’ve almost lost your mind, might actually prevent it from going all together. I came across a red tractor designs quote the other day that I had to share on insta and it reads “Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think” A. A. Milne … Sometimes we just need a big reminder!
    Hang in there parents! ?

  11. I’ve just read this and it is so so familiar to me. In May last year I wrote this blog post on how hard it is to parent a three year old: I share it because it might bring you some comfort. Eighteen months on from that post I’m looking down the barrel of my last couple of months with my daughter at home as she starts school next year. It’s been tough, like you I had two close together and then a break (there is nearly 5 years between my second and third child). She’s definitely calmed down since then, but she’s still a tough customer. I think it’s just the way she is. Take heart, you’re doing a great job. xx

  12. We have the same angry little person at our house!!! Wowsers 2 years and 4 months is something else!!! X

  13. You always have great timing! Mine is not quite 1.5 yet but has kicked into toddler mode already. He says “noooo” to everything and ran awY from me in a flood of tears with his hand placed dramatically over his mouth as if he had just had some seriously earth shattering bad news… Because I passed him the apple he seemed to be gesturing for. He has also learned to fake cry really loudly alllllll the time and the next minute smile and kiss “ted dee!” With a smile. Yeeeeeeikes. Hang in there Beth (I will too) x

  14. Perfect timing. Think it’s me who is the angry toddler though. Not pleasant at all and need to get out of my grump. Wise words I must take care of me, otherwise it’ll go horribly wrong! Right, I’m off for a good long walk by the sea after school drop off. Housework can wait! X

  15. My 4 year is a total jerk right now. The anger & attitude are sending me off the edge. A friend reminded me that he is probably having his first testosterone surge & yeah, that probably explains it but sweet baby Jesus it’s hard!!!
    And I too get frustrated at how easy my husbands life seems & then I’m waljing around in a huff & he has no clue why! I feel like it doesn’t matter how good your husband is around the house or with the kids it will always be easier for them to do their own thing. Fucking annoying.
    I too am trying to get myself back on good footing- healthy food, moving everyday, in with good stuff, out with the bad- but then I went & made custard tarts! I’ve already eaten 3.

  16. Angry toddler here too! Although she has been much sweeter the last few days, touch wood. Her little quirks include an obsession with what doors are allowed to be open or shut in the house and a demand that the wiggles be playing every single second we are in the car. Each pause between songs is met with an angry “turn the wiggles on!” My favourite ?? meltdown of late has to be the 45min scream fest on our way home from town last week where she repeatedly yelled “mummy take your hands off the steering wheel”. There was no reasoning with her. Thank god for my placid 6 month old who slept through the whole ordeal.
    Thank you for this post Beth, has made me see the funny side of this phase we are in x

  17. You’ll blink and she’ll be 6. Or 7. I miss those years. Work is so insane now – it cuts into precious time. X

  18. Yes! To all of this. I have an angry and emotional 2 year old and an angry and emotional 4 year old! Both boys. Both high energy. Both wake in the night. It’s no wonder we crack and struggle to keep our heads above water. Thank you for sharing this today – I really needed to read it. X

  19. Wow by the comments it looks as though there are a few of us in the same boat. I have a very energetic nearly 3 year old son who DOES NOT STOP until his head hits the pillow. It’s the not-listening that I’m really struggling with at the moment. He is the cutest damn thing but he is such a rascal and gets into everything! Plus I have a 7 and a 5 and 5 month old and at the end of the day I can hear myself yelling and it sucks. Definitely something I need to work on! I think more hugs for everyone is needed!

  20. So pleased to hear we are not the only family with a possessed toddler. Our 2.5 year old has been the same for the past month or so. To make it even trickier we have been travelling for the past 4 weeks. I can only hope he settles down a when we are back home and in routine.

  21. You hit the nail on the head when you said “She needs to work through it, get angry, feel safe while she does so, get a cuddle a moment later.”

    I wish I had had you around reminding me of that when mine were going through those phases. The “feel safe” part is what will help her grow strong, and you will benefit in the end for providing that. In the meantime, yes–it sucks big time!

  22. that quote is gold beth!
    take heed!
    maggie is too adorable for words! but obviously strong minded! mmm!
    in the book “emotional intelligence” they explain that 2 y o have all of the emotions but can’t quite put them into words! I think there are quite a few adults in the same boat quite frankly!
    good luck! this too will pass hun!
    much love m:)X

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