I’ve only been a mom for two years, but I can already say this with certainty: Loving your children does not mean they won’t get under your skin sometimes.
Their aggravating ways, which are probably ingrained from birth, are at full throttle in toddlerhood, when meltdowns and chaos and battles of wills are the norm rather than the exception.
But there’s a silver lining. Despite the fact that they drive you bonkers, these seven exasperating toddler behaviors are actually really important to your child’s learning and emotional development.
So remind yourself of these the next time you’re ready to rip your hair out!
7 Annoying Things Toddlers Do That Are Actually Good for Them
1. Make a total mess.
Yesterday my toddler had dirt all over his shorts, chocolate all over his face, and yogurt smashed into his hair—all at the same time. At some point I simply decided to stop cleaning him up and just let the muck accumulate all over him until his next bath.
Turns out my negligence in the cleanliness department is actually helping him learn.
A study published last year in Developmental Science suggests that mashing oatmeal between your hands or flinging chunky applesauce across the room can be very educational for the under 3 set. Researchers observed over 70 toddlers and found that those who made a total mess with their food were then able to learn the words associated with those foods faster and more accurately.
Translation: That chocolate running down my boy’s chin and that yogurt tangled between his locks was all in the name of learning!
2. Insist on reading the same book over and over again.
Or singing the same song, or playing the same game. I admit that on the 12th time through Goodnight Moon (“Goodnight for real this time, mouse!”), I just want to slap my palm against my forehead.
But I don’t. Most of the time I indulge the repetition because it’s so helpful for toddlers’ speech development; hearing the same words and phrases over and over again helps to cement them into their growing vocabulary. Plus, little kids find such joy in knowing what comes next!