When Toddler Turns Terrorist…


Certain seasons in our kids’ development tend to be more frustrating than others. And by frustrating, I mean that you want to drown yourself in a vat of chocolate ice cream with a side of red wine. (You don’t, of course…but you want to.)

I’m sure those seasons vary from person to person or even kid to kid. However, with all my boys, those early toddler days—somewhere between 16 months and 2 years old—are the most challenging. In case you haven’t been there yet or you’re so far down the road that you’ve forgotten, I humbly submit to you…


He knows what he wants but doesn’t have the words to communicate it. In fact, he’ll repeat one word a thousand times thinking that surely you’ll get it if he says it just one. more. time.

“Ball. Ball. Ball.”

You: “You want a ball? Here’s a ball.”

[Toddler looks at you, clearly annoyed, and proceeds to throw the ball on the ground.]

Toddler: “Ball?”

You: “I gave you a ball. You don’t want a ball?”

[You gently hand the ball back. This time it’s aimed at your head.]

Toddler [face turns red]: “BALL!?!?!”

You: “But I gave you a ball! What. do. you. WANT???”

[Repeat scenario for the next 15 minutes until both parties give up.]

Toddler is clearly not your second language. In fact, 50 percent of the time you feel like a refugee in a foreign land where tiny drooling, pooping, and teething people rule.

Your days are filled picking up after his tornado-like path of destruction. Folded laundry, the kitchen pantry, and older brothers’ toys are easy prey. At dinner—even though he’s expertly strapped down—you become the target for catapulting pasta, steamed broccoli, and (my personal favorite) the grapes you cut with great precision.

photo credit: Ellie Nakazawa via flickr license

And let’s not forget the emotions with a capital E. His feels are blossoming [no no….let me rephrase that] EXPLODING in every direction—happy and giggling one minute and throwing himself on the floor in rage the next. Because (how dare you) have the nerve to offer him what was his favorite food…yesterday.

You’ve been hit in the face, bit on the arm, and found every possible food group in your hair. As you collapse at the end of the day, you think, “Who replaced my sweet, snuggly baby this tiny terrorist?”


Afraid? You should be. This toddler phase is by far THE ONE that stretches every bit of me, no matter how many kids I have.

However, the good news is that I have picked up a few survival methods along the way, and I will gladly share them with you:

1. Say it with me: “THIS. IS. JUST. A. PHASE.”

Very few challenges with our kids last forever. So as you wait it out, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and remind yourself multiple times a day that this is a season.

2. Keep calm.

ToddlerYou’re going to get riled up. It’s inevitable. But when you do, I recommend taking a deep breath and a five-second pause before you deal with any and every situation. And in those moments where you’re on the brink of another world war, walk away. Not so far that your kid is left alone toddling in Target, but “away” enough that you can regain your composure and your toddler realizes he’s not actually in control.

3. Take time to recuperate.

I find during this stage it becomes essential for me to practice good self-care. So whether you need to spend extra time with God, a good book, or a bubble bath (or all three sound heavenly!), then do it. For the good of YOU. For the good of YOUR KID.

4. Look for the redemptive moments.

Not every second of every day will make you want to cry. Be on the lookout for the good. Even if you can only see it on their sweet faces when they’re sound asleep, embrace it. Drink it in. Let your heart refill with love…so you can do it all again tomorrow.

Soon enough, their terrorist days will be behind them. You may even laugh at “that time your son threw your iPhone on the tile floor” (which is what my son so lovingly contributed to the writing of this blog). But in the meantime, let’s remember we’re going to make it. And if we persevere in patience and love, you, me, and all our blessed lil’ babes will be better for it.

feature photo credit: Amy McTigue via flickr CC license

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