25 Real-Life, Tear-Inducing Toddler Problems

25 Real Life Tear Inducing Toddler Problems

Trying to understand why a toddler is upset is often a futile endeavor. Simple daily events that usually go unnoticed can suddenly induce tears, terror, screams, angry outbursts or any combination thereof. Then the same issue will cause no response whatsoever the next time it happens.

I wish grown-up problems were as simple as these. Sometimes you just have to hug your child, while stifling the smile (or laugh) over their shoulder.

These real-life events have induced tantrums, terror, screaming, crying, flailing, tears or downright panic from our little ones:

  1. Ice cream is not allowed for breakfast, or lunch
  2. Preschool said to call a diamond a rhombus
  3. When they demanded food, they wanted a snack, not lunch!
  4. Their lunch, cooled in the freezer for 10 minutes, is much too hot
  5. Lunch is on the wrong plate (not orange), and their water in the wrong cup (not blue), and they said they wanted ice
  6. Said ice, by the end of lunch, has melted in their cup. Mommy, why did you eat it?
  7. The garbage truck took our garbage
  8. They have to share [insert ANYTHING] with their sibling
  9. They have a runny nose. Blowing it is messy so they snort it up into their head, making themselves cough. They cry because they are coughing, making their nose more stuffy. Repeat
  10. Tonight they have to wear a pull up to bed, like every…other…night
  11. They cannot find [insert OBSCURE TOY]. There is nothing else to play with (in the entire toy box that is now emptied out on the floor)
  12. They bit their own finger while eating lunch, again. Chomp!
  13. Mommy didn’t take any pictures of them so there aren’t any to look at on the computer (after running away screaming they didn’t want their picture taken multiple times)
  14. They think their potty chair is an actual throne on which to hang out. Actually using it to go to go to the bathroom makes it dirty and is traumatic (and you are the one who cleans it up)
  15. They want to zip their own zipper but don’t know how. No, you cannot zip it for them
  16. In summer, they want to wear soft (fleece) pajamas to bed. They wake up soaking in sweat but refuse to change into non-fleece pajamas because they aren’t soft. Repeat tomorrow
  17. They cannot sleep because of the rain, thunder, lightening, snow, wind, or because it might rain…because there is that one white puffy cloud in the sky, over there! 
  18. The only shoes they like are Crocs but it is subzero outside. They do not want to wear socks, or shoes, or boots
  19. They are too tired to pick up toys but do not want to take a nap, or go to sleep…they want to play basketball in the basement
  20. Their snowman melted
  21. They taught their little sister that knocking down towers is funny. Now she keeps knocking down their tower
  22. Panic ensues (for them, and for you) when they’ve dug around in their own messy diaper. Happened multiple times…with the same outcome…still, they Houdini out of onesies, snaps, pants, and more until the last resort is putting them in feetie pajamas two sizes too big, backwards, so you can turn the feet around and zip them up the back. And they wanted to do the zipper
  23. They twirl their hair into a dread-lock and their finger gets stuck in it. Every. Single. Night
  24. Their special doll, teddy bear, or blanket has to be washed. Seriously. It stinks
  25. They didn’t tell you they were hiding, but you didn’t seek them

What are your toddlers biggest problems?


A Rant: Where are the Changing Tables?

Before reading, know that this I was laughing as I wrote this…humor is a parent’s best weapon.

Usually if we end up running late at mealtime, we make something quick at home. I do not consider fast food to be healthy, cost effective, or a preferable meal choice, so we limit fast food to one or two visits per month.

BUT, lets talk about the times when an ear infection needs an impromptu doctor visit, an errand takes longer than expected, or a fun outing dictates the need for relatively inexpensive, quick and ‘family friendly’ food, and we aren’t near home.

On these occasions, we may stop for fast food. There is usually ample seating, and the promise of speed. And, since my son has a food allergy, a chain fast food restaurant has a consistent allergen menu that can be checked online or on site.

Lets focus on fast food places that sell the equivalent of a ‘Happy Meal’ (aka. a meal that comes with a TOY).

If you sell a ‘happy meal’, the toys are used to get kids excited to eat there, and you have intentionally marketed that you are a FAMILY FRIENDLY establishment.

A family with small children will need a few simple but necessary accommodations; high chair, a place to sit, and a changing table in the bathroom.

We have visited 5 separate happy meal selling locations this year. Two have been exactly as expected. The other 3? Not so much.

I am grateful that most of the time, high chairs are light weight. I can carry my 1 year old, diaper bag, purse, and the high chair in one trip while my 3 year old holds onto the pocket of my pants as we find our table.

No one ever told me motherhood would make me the equivalent of a pack mule.

I realize that small children who eat with their hands use these high chairs, so I do not expect them to be extraordinarily clean. However, it is pretty terrible that parents do not make any attempt to clean up after their child. Furthermore, I am shocked that any employee carried put it back, smeared with ketchup or mashed food goo, and didn’t think they should clean it before leaving it there for my unassuming hand to stick to.

In 3 places we visited, the high chair can only be described as FILTHY.

But, I digress; truth is I don’t mind cleaning it off with my handy anti-bacterial wipes, and even if it ‘looked’ clean, I’d probably wipe it down anyway. Germs.

2 establishments had absurd seating for a family with small children.

Why on earth does a place that sells a happy meal need ALL their seating to be at high-top tables?

My son could not climb into the chairs, and at one location, the high chair didn’t reach the table top. A serious oversight. I had to hand my daughter all of her food during the meal since she could not reach the table. While the seating was annoying, everyone had a seat, and everyone ate. Not a huge deal.

Here’s the serious offense; we visited 3 separate ‘happy meal’ peddling establishments that did NOT have a diaper changing table in the bathroom (men’s or women’s).

The message is clear; bring your kids, spend your money, but if you have to change a diaper, you’re on your own.

So, change the diaper, or go home. I’m not willing to let her sit in a dirty diaper so I can go home. If we were super close to home, we likely wouldn’t be there! Would you want to sit in that?

Sure, it SEEMS simple to bring your child to the car to change their diaper, but lets think this through.

First of all, we have a CAR, not an SUV. It is POSSIBLE to change my daughter in the car, but certainly not convenient. She is too big for the front seat and the back seat is covered by 2 car seats. The only large enough space where part of her body won’t hang off an edge, or be gauged by a seat belt, is the trunk. Our trunk is not readily available, as it usually contains a double stroller.

Now consider that we live in MN. Not exactly a state known for warm, pleasant weather. We visited two of these places during the marathon sub zero stretch this past winter (we would have been home if not for ear infections!). SO, now I’m standing by the trunk or with the passenger door open changing her diaper.

Exposing her bare bottom, legs, feet (and my hands) to -20F temperatures while cleaning her with WET wipes is not only unkind, and unpleasant, but also not what you call a GOOD idea.

THEN take into account that it is often windy, raining, snowing, or sleeting, and I have my 3 year old out there with me.

So, perhaps it’s best to avoid the elements and change her on the bathroom floor?

Kneeling down on a filthy public restroom floor to change my daughter on an all-too-skinny changing pad, while she wriggles about trying to touch anything in sight, and then put her fingers into her mouth also is not a GOOD idea. It is a stomach illness waiting to happen, and it is just plain gross.

Or perhaps these establishments would prefer I change my child’s poopy diaper on the booth bench, in the middle of the restaurant?

I’m pretty sure that disrupting people’s meals with a stinky diaper is NOT desirable.

Needless to say, we will not be returning to any of these locations, even for the drive thru. It is absurd to think that a place advertised to be family friendly is no longer willing to accommodate basic needs of an infant or young toddler.

Going forward, we’ll check the bathroom before the meal since my now potty training toddler needs some reminders to avoid accidents while we’re out.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that there are places that do not market to children, and these places do not have changing tables. I’m ok with that. It is the ‘family friendly’ advertising that makes me think the changing table should be present here.

I also know that changing tables come with a potential for stinky bathrooms. No one likes a bathroom where a a dirty diaper has been left in the trash without an odor bag. However, if this has been a problem, a note requesting that diapers not be left in the restroom garbage would be be obliged by most parents, and frequent garbage emptying, or a covered garbage can by the changing table are always doable options.


I suppose the absence of changing tables is just another reason to avoid fast food altogether, which in the end, is healthier for all of us.

I am grateful when changing tables are present at the grocery store, pharmacy, airport, or pretty much everywhere else we go. I appreciate that those business choose to be accommodate needs of families. Places that don’t claim to be family friendly and have changing tables anyway deserve a collective high five. Those establishments that have a changing station in the MENS room, deserve an even greater applause, because from what I understand, this is UNCOMMON.

Let my message be clear: if you CLAIM to be family friendly but aren’t providing a changing table, you AREN’T FAMILY FRIENDLY and you won’t have my continued business.



Sometimes You Just Need to Laugh

As a parent, there are some things your children do where you just need to laugh. It may not really be appropriate in the moment but as you think about it later, these moments DESERVE laughter.

And yes, some of this laughter may be at your children’s expense. Here is one example.

At least once a week my son will burst into tears and be suddenly inconsolable while eating. Huge tears will flow and my mind will jump to all kinds of reason why this reaction could have occurred. Bit tongue, bit cheek, kicked something…

But the real reason is usually the same. Why is he crying?

Because he bit his OWN finger. AGAIN.

Likely, he was distracted by his sister, a garbage truck (or some construction vehicle) driving by, or he was simply being silly, as 3 year old can often be. As a result, he lost what I think is a basic self-preservation instinct and CHOMPED down HARD on his somehow unassuming finger. Again.

The reaction is loud, sudden and severe. I immediately run to his side to ask what happened and console him.  In the  moment, it is not at all funny. It obviously hurts and tears of that size do not lie.

But later, when I tell my husband that it happened yet again?

We laugh. Sometimes it is just a chuckle and eye roll, but other times I am guilty of full on, tear-inducing, make your stomach ache laughter. I can’t help it.

Please don’t take this the wrong way; I never, ever, want my children to be in pain! There is nothing worse than watching them hurt. After laughing, my husband and I have an honest discussion about what on earth we can do to make this stop!

In addition to actively reminding him to pay attention while eating (during EVERY meal and snack), especially when he is getting silly, I have actually been praying that he won’t bite his own finger; there’s a strange thing to write in a prayer journal (I’m betting years later when I look back through the journal that those entries will induce laughter yet again)!

But seriously, this has been going on for months and months. I can’t understand how a person can continually put their own finger into their mouth and then be SO surprised, like his feelings are hurt that SOMEONE bit him. I mean, really, its absurd!

For me, it is funny, and a reminder that ‘common sense’ things are still LEARNED behaviors. I am grateful for his sweet little spirit, that I am his mom and that I get to watch him grow up (and hopefully SOON overcome this eating hazard). This type of guilty laughter removes stress, lifts my spirits and leaves me motivated to do my job better tomorrow.

These kids bring me joy in the strangest of ways…

Laugh today.