15 Ways You Can Annoy Your Toddler Without Trying To

How parents can cause those toddler tantrums.
Heidi van der Westhuizen via Getty Images

Next time you’re having one of those days and your toddler is driving you up the wall, just remember that the feeling is probably entirely mutual.

You can put their erratic behaviour down to tiredness, hunger, frustration, limited communication skills, testing the boundaries – but let’s face it, the thing that’s really turned them into a ball of anger is probably you and your silly grown-up ways.

Of course, there are an infinite number of ways you can incite a toddler meltdown - many of which you are probably doing on a daily basis - but here are a few of our favourites:

1. By doing household chores

You’ve been trying to engage with your child all morning only to be met with the blank TV-stare. Then you get the Hoover out and suddenly it’s: “MUMMY BUILD TOWER... MUMMY PLAY TEA PARTY!... MUMMY, STOP THAT NOW!”.

2. By giving them the yellow plate

Toddler: “No mummy! I want the YELLOW PLATE!”

You: “But that is the yellow plate, sweetheart!”

Toddler: “Oh.” [Pause for reflection] “I want the BLUE PLATE!”

3. By changing the agenda

Never mind the migraine/ hailstorm/park closure – “YOU SAID WE WERE GOING TO THE PARK!”

Tip: Never tell a toddler you are going to the park until you are actually at the park.

4. By making them wear a coat, hat or wellies in winter

Vest, jumper and coat? What? Everybody knows the formula for toddler winter styling: nakedness + one inappropriate accessory (eg. nude + Superman cape; nude + tiara).

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5. By offering them a broken snack

You’re thinking: “Just wait until you see what I’ve got for you!”

They’re thinking: “What fresh hell is this? Has MasterChef taught you nothing about presentation? And next you’ll be telling me two halves make a whole! Ooh, what’s that crumb on the floor? I think I’ll eat it.”

6. By helping them with a tricky task

Toddlers are independent people with independent minds. They do NOT need your help!

7. By not helping them with a tricky task

“Mummy! Broken it! Help!”

8. By not getting a supermarket trolley...

... with a special seat that they can ride in (you are only buying a pint of milk).

9. By making them get in the buggy

This can be counteracted by a number of moves – rigor mortis, the back arch, lying on the pavement face down. And before you ask, no they don’t want to walk either.

10. By preventing them doing something highly dangerous

Climbing on the back of the sofa, walking out into a busy road, playing with the gas hob... is there nothing a kid can do around here to get their kicks?

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11. By washing their hair

No More Tears? Who are they kidding? And when are they going to invent ‘No More Tantrums’?

12. By not allowing them to eat cake

This can be divided into a number of categories, such as: “don’t let them eat cake for breakfast”, “don’t let them eat cake before it’s gone in the oven”, “don’t let them eat cake straight out of the oven”, “don’t let them eat all 12 cakes they have just baked”, “don’t let them eat someone else’s cake off their plate”, “don’t let them eat cake out of the bin”.

13. By drinking a hot drink in the same room as them

If hot drinks are so dangerous, why do you insist on keep putting them in their way? As soon as you have a steaming cup in your hand, you are no longer any fun.

14. By stopping at traffic lights

Your child will wake up from even the deepest of slumbers to express their distaste for this kind of behaviour.

15. By kissing them

“I haven’t fallen over and hurt my face so why do you keep kissing it better? Get off me.”