My Toddler Isn’t ‘Spirited’, She’s Just A Little Shit*

*A little shit who I would jump in front of a bus for, before any of the nasty comments come in.

My toddler is an arsehole and I am sorry.

She’s one of those two year olds commonly referred to as ‘strong willed’ and ‘spirited’. I will agree with the strong willed part (if that child doesn’t want to do something, God help you) but she’s not ‘spirited’: She’s an absolute shit.

Don’t get me wrong; she can be lovely when she wants to be. Or more specifically, when things are going her way. Give that child a packet of Oreos and the IPad on full blast and she can be an angel. Try getting her to do anything she deems as unreasonable, such as leaving the playground or sharing with another child at toddler group, and you will unleash the wrath of the underworld.

It’s not bad parenting.

I know this, because I have a now 14 year old who was exactly the same as a toddler. It was the pits and I used to cry myself to sleep some nights worrying about his behaviour, how to stop it and of course, how I must have caused it with my terrible parenting.

I read endless parenting books and tried every technique from the naughty step to gentle parenting, but nothing changed. It was just who he was, a fighter from birth (born premature with lung problems, his sheer anger and will astounded the nurses when he flipped himself over in his incubator during a rage when he was a week old) and not one to take anything lying down or to follow the crowd.

It was fucking terrible when he was a two year old and steadfastly refused to join in with signing at the end of playgroup as in his words “Wheels on the bus is rubbish, this is boring”, which was horrifyingly embarrassing at the time.

He was awful at any activity from when he was a baby and would only join in if it was something that interested him. Playgroups were a disaster as he wouldn’t join in with the crafts, wouldn’t sit and listen at story time and wouldn’t share with the children that he didn’t like (pretty much all of them).

It used to make me so upset and made me feel like the worst mother on Earth.

12 years on and he’s lovely. That ‘take no prisoners’ temperament mellowed as he got older and by the age of 5, most of the nastier behaviors had abated and actually turned on their heads. For his 5th birthday, that little shit at playgroup who all the other parents tutted at, decided that instead of presents for himself, he wanted to give toys to Bernardo’s. That’s quite a change from the two year old who would fight to the death over another child’s fire engine.

Now at 14, he is caring and brutally honest, but also very kind. He still isn’t easily led and refuses to follow the crowd, even though he’s quite popular. He still doesn’t feel the need to do something just because everyone else is doing so. So maybe, as a toddler, he was just growing and finding his way.

That’s why I am far less worried about his sister.

She is a carbon copy of him. I look at her at playgroups, refusing to sit in a circle, walking off to do her own thing when all the other children gather for snack or story time and it’s like I have travelled back in time and am watching my son. Yes, she’s a shit of a toddler. But one day, I am hoping that that tenacity and sureness of her own self will do her big favours in life.

Just say it how it is and don’t call her spirited.

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  1. I love my son dearly but he’s awful at times. I love how honest you are. The need to have a front is what causes mums to go crazy. You’re keeping us sane xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had a little shit too. Stuborn, headstrong, awkward…etc etc. He turned 22 today (fuck knows how that happened) and is a young man who I am terribly proud of.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow. I love this. I too have a feisty one on my hands. Four years old in December and as stubborn and ‘strong willed’ as they come. I’ve been worried how he will grow up to be but maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe he will turn out just like yours. I hope so. Thanks for giving me something to think about. #twinklytuesday

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  4. My toddler was called spirited yet. I knew exactly what the lady that said it meant. I have a little one that knows her own mind, is stubborn and wants to do things her way too. Most of the time she is a lovely little girl, but there are the moments when she is so difficult to parent and its in moments like those that I hope at least some of the characteristics will be a massive positive when she is a woman and needs to find her way in the world. I loved reading this because its always nice to come across someone else going through a similar experience that gives you comfort 🙂 Emily #TwinklyTuesday


    1. Oh I know, it’s always good to know you are not alone! I doubt many strong, independent, successful women started life as compliant, easy children, so it will all be worth it when they are grown and kicking arse.


  5. Love your attitude, definitely say it as it is. My two year old is also a nightmare. Loving, caring, hilariously funny, but a complete madam who will scream blue murder when something isn’t going her way. I’m also hoping that her strong character and knowing what she wants will stand her in good stead in the future, even if it is draining to live with at times!

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  6. Ahh I totally agree, your kids sound just like my Leo. He’s starting to be a bit better at play group now (slightly!) but from about 16months until very recently he wouldn’t sit down to do crafts, would scream through singing time if he didn’t like the song and would never ever share toys. He has been called ‘strong willed’ and stuff like that too when he is behaving badly and sometimes i do feel like saying ‘no, he’s just being a massive pain in the arse!’. Glad to hear your boy has turned into a lovely teenager, hope it goes the same for your daughter xx #twinklytuesday

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  7. Dame it I would of loved to have someone in a pale group like that, much perfer rebels and having though mind! Haha, but totally get it, they can be right shits at times and some days they can wind you to complete destruction and question everything you are as a parent. But sounds like you ate in a better and incidence place now and your experience had helped understand and worry less maybe. I am no expert but sometimes I think so much info out there you just got to go with the flow init 😉 X

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