14/08/2014 12:49 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Isn't 'Running Around With No Sense Of Purpose' What Toddlers Do?

Isn't 'running around with no sense of purpose' what all toddlers do?

I'm really worried about our toddler. I watched her this morning as she spun in circles, shouting "roun-roun-roun-roun" then shook her head from side to side, and collapsed on the floor in a giggling heap.

"Oh my God," I thought, "This child has absolutely no sense of purpose."

I hadn't actually realised this was a problem, until Liz Truss, the Government's childcare minister, helpfully told me that it was.

She's horrified by nurseries filled with unruly toddlers, 'running around' with 'no sense of purpose'.

Her job must be a nightmare – I can't imagine how she copes, being faced with these scenes of devastation, day after day.

And now I'm concerned too, thinking about my toddler careering around the local toddler group, never sitting down quietly, or curtseying when an adult enters the room.


She sits in the toy cars, but all she does is say 'brum brum'. That's not going to get her very far in today's society, is it? She's clearly got no sense of direction.


And where's the purpose in going up and down a slide all morning? It's just pointless, isn't it?

She is enthusiastic about sitting down at a table and drawing, but she often gets distracted and sticks the pencils in her ears or wanders off to scribble on her high chair. She shows a concerning lack of concentration.

She's never made anything worthwhile out of Play-doh, instead attempting to eat it, stick it to the carpet, weld it to her shoes and rub it into her hair. I'm sure if we'd raised her correctly, she should be creating impressive works of art by now.

Our toddler also has no manners. She thinks nothing of attempting to blow her nose on my iPhone or my jumper, and her table manners lack a certain finesse. She has no idea which knife is for the starter, and occasionally gets yoghurt in her hair. Unfortunately, she also seems to think that most food tastes better if it's been on the floor.

There's no life plan in place either. When I asked her what she wants to be when she grows up, she said: 'Cat'. We don't think we'll be able to find a place at university for her on that basis. She seems unconcerned by this, showing a distinct lack of ambition.

We did think she was demonstrating an ability with numbers, but then we realised she was just saying '10' to every number she sees. Clearly, she needs more structured learning and testing.

And although climbing up and down the stairs all day and wandering about the house may be providing her with valuable exercise, I'm not sure it's really getting her anywhere. She's a bit of an aimless drifter, if I'm honest. She'd be better off training for a marathon, or at least learning to run in a straight line.

Her tower-building efforts are impressive, although if she aspires to become an architect, she should perhaps be taught that high-rise luxury apartments may not be a success and she might be better off building more family homes. Focus, child, focus.

Groups of toddlers together are even worse, of course. Their only true sense of purpose lies in attempting to grab whatever the child next to them is playing with.

Parents despair at attempts to make their children conform. Mums' and toddlers' singing groups are full of mothers sitting, grimly singing 'Wind the Bobbin Up' while the little ones run riot around the room and ignore any efforts to make them sit down and join in. More discipline is needed, obviously. Cattle prods, perhaps?

The only time toddlers play happily together is when all the toys have been tidied away and they can gleefully run around in circles, giggling and chasing each other like little puppies. Running around with, er, no sense of purpose, in fact.

But wait. All is not lost. Our daughter does have some sense of purpose, I realise. Her determined attempts to set off the fire extinguisher at the toddler group are testament to this.

The fact that she turns our oven on several times a day is proof of a single-minded vision. She has an unerring ability to wind up her big sister and her conviction that the bin is an ideal toy is strong and powerful.

She's even showing signs of cooperation, as she collaborates with other children in mischief-making. I realise that she can now follow instructions to the letter – when her sister encourages her to be naughty. With a little more structure in her life, perhaps she could learn to put these traits to good use.

After all, one of her key purposes in life appears to be chewing things, and she pursues this with vigour. So perhaps there's hope for her yet...