The top 5 reasons your toddler throws a tantrum

Just looking at your toddler the wrong way is sometimes enough to spark a meltdown.
Just looking at your toddler the wrong way is sometimes enough to spark a meltdown. Photo: Getty Images

Whilst to the outside world little people may appear to have it easy, it's actually not always the case – just ask any toddler who's had their toast cut up the wrong way in the morning and they'll be the first to reassure you of that.

But the stresses and strains don't just start and finish with breakfast.  There's a whole day of challenges to overcome when you're small. 

And when things don't go according to plan, sometimes there's nothing else for it but to face the problem in the only way you know how.  Scream, shout and generally act your age.

Here are the top things causing stress to your toddler right now;

1. The watermelon is not pink enough 

A common problem for many toddlers is that food can just be so…well, unpredictable. 

For example, take that watermelon that your toddler had yesterday and really enjoyed. Well, today it's, quite simply, not up to par. It's not as pink, not as juicy and just not as goddamn enjoyable.

And the same applies for all manner of edibles. 

Yesterday's favourite Bolognese is now too spicy and has way too much tomato in – seriously, did you double that flavour overnight Mum?


The quiche that was enthusiastically inhaled only last week (and you've now made in vast quantities) is now declared "yucky".  And those sandwiches cut up in squares and not triangles?  Hey, let's not even go there.

Cue – food being thrown across the room.

2. The cat/dog/hamster doesn't want to be cuddled

Imagine wanting to do nothing but give your love to an innocent animal?  Imagine wanting to squeeze them so hard that their eyes pop out and they gasp for breathe?  And imagine how you'd feel if all they did was run as far away from you as possible?

Do I need to say any more?  You would be pretty upset too right?

Cue – an animal being chased continuously by a small person emitting a high-pitched scream interspersed with episodes of foot stomping and grasping of fur.

3. Their favourite show has ended

When you have little concept of time or understanding that most things in life have a start and end, it can be really disturbing to be watching a favourite episode of Peppa Pig, only to have it finish.

Sure, it may have ended on a happy note with Daddy Pig once again displaying his failings in life, but that's not the point.

The point is that IT'S ENDED, your toddler's NOT HAPPY and, quite frankly, it's entirely your fault!

Cue – much pointing at the TV shouting 'MORE' or 'AGAIN', accompanied by increasingly desperate flailing movements on the floor.

4. You looked at them

No one likes being stared at and your toddler is no different.  Of course, you may have only glanced in their direction for a millisecond to check that they weren't up to mischief, but a look is still a look in a toddler book.

Besides, when you're focused on a task at hand, such as removing all of the pages out of a book, creating a masterpiece on the wall with crayons, or heading for a dunk in the dog's water bowl, there's nothing more distracting than being watched, right?

Cue – balled fists and glowering eyes….if looks could kill! (Ironic I know!)

5. You interrupted their activity

A toddler's world is one of discovery, imagination and play and there's nothing better than being left to your own devices in order to fully embrace this. 

So you can understand how annoying it is when you're playing with a screwdriver, opening and closing drawers on your fingers, exploring electricity sockets and climbing into small confined spaces and someone disturbs you.   And, worse still, puts an end to your fun!

Cue – screams of frustration and repeated attempts to return to the scene to try to continue play.

Of course this is far from an exhaustive list - because for that we would need a lot more time.

But, to finish off, here is what some other mums listed as causes of recent stress for their littlies.  Can you relate?

  • I smoothed the back of my son's hair while he was waiting for dinner
  • My daughter's hair wasn't straight enough
  • Someone used the hand dryer in the public bathroom
  • The squeaky bath toys weren't lined up facing the faucet on the wall when in the bathroom
  • Someone other than the wiggles sang "twinkle twinkle little star"
  • I gave my son the wrong crisp packet colour
  • My daughter had a meltdown because in her passport photo she looked 'too small' – it was taken when she was 6 months old!