Our Privacy/Cookie Policy contains detailed information about the types of cookies & related technology on our site, and some ways to opt out. By using the site, you agree to the uses of cookies and other technology as outlined in our Policy, and to our Terms of Use.


What I Said vs What My Toddler Heard

Photograph by Twenty20

When I worked at a daycare in college, my favorite classroom to work in was the toddler classroom. Not only were they adorable, but they taught me a lot about myself as a parent and future professional. At the time, I had a toddler too, so I often applied the things I learned at the daycare and from the child development curriculum of my courses in our daily lives. For instance, phrases like "use your words" became a part of my vocabulary.

My oldest is now a tween and my youngest is days away from venturing beyond toddlerhood. Before her, it had been years since I mothered a toddler. Yet some of those phrases still stuck, making an appearance for my second stint at toddlerhood.

These phrases, along with more generic ones like "got to bed," increase the risk of me falling victim to the toddler side-eye, a fit of giggles or an impromptu game of chase. Yet, I say them over and over. Sometimes I wonder if my little one's "interpretation" of my words is a little off because she so often does the complete opposite or something entirely different. Oh, autonomy.

RELATED: 19 Things Toddlers Love That Parents Loathe

What I said: Calm your body.
What my toddler heard: Let it all out. It's not good to hold things inside. Do that thing where you look like you aren't breathing and show me who's boss.

What I said: Use your words.
What my toddler heard: Do not use your words. Save them for later. Cry, scream, whine a little. Just, please, don't use your words.

What I said: Time to go pee pee in the potty.
What my toddler heard: Go ahead and insist that you don't have to go. We can always frantically run to the bathroom later.

What I said: Gentle touches.
What my toddler heard: Poke your sister if you will, but quickly follow it up with a tender cheek rub, that way you're off the hook.

What I said: Time to go bye-bye.
What my toddler heard: It pains me to see you having so much fun. If you cry, and only if you cry, I'm willing to offer you "just five minutes."

What I said: Hands are not for hitting.
What my toddler heard: I'm willing to say this to you a few more times so get at least another good one in there.

What I said: Please share your crackers.
What my toddler heard: Always take a bite of a cracker before sharing it. If it is bite-size, remove it from your mouth and offer to share it.

What I said: You're all done.
What my toddler heard: Quick! Stop playing with your food and stuff it all in your mouth before I take it away.

What I said: Eat your dinner.
What my toddler heard: One piece of broccoli = one scoop of ice cream later. Just eat one.

What I said: Walking feet.
What my toddler heard: On your mark, get set. Go!

What I said: Pick one thing.
What my toddler heard: Pick as many things as you think you can carry. Actually, just pick all the things.

What I said: You can have one bite.
What my toddler heard: Take the biggest bite you can. Remember, if you drool on it, it's yours.

What I said: Wait one minute.
What my toddler heard: Now is the time to ask me for that thing I've said no to all day. I'm super distracted so the odds are in your favor.

RELATED: How to Look and Feel Your Best, If Told by a Toddler

What I said: Inside voice.
What my toddler heard: Say it louder please, this is so important that I want everyone to hear it. Besides is there really such thing as an "inside voice"?

More from lifestyle