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15 Ways NOT to Raise Your Toddler: Our "Expert" Editor With Homespun Advice

By Mira Jacob |

I am a parenting editor and a mom. This means that all day, every day, I read about how to raise better children, and then go home and mess with my own. You know, it’s all fun and games until the therapy bill arrives! In full acknowledgment of how little my advice will help any parent out there, I’ve decided to stick to letting the wonderful experts on this site tell you what to do, and give you this handy picture guide on what to DON’T:

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How NOT to Raise Your Toddler

1) DON'T ask, “Why did you do that?”

Why did you bite that boy? Why did you hit your sister? Why is there spaghetti in your ear? Why am I asking you a question you can’t possibly answer in any way that will make me feel better? Oh yes, because it’s easier than accepting the idea that I am in charge of a tiny lunatic.

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About Mira Jacob


Mira Jacob

In previous lives, former Babble Deputy Editor Mira Jacob was the parenting editor at Yahoo! Shine, a writer for VH1's Pop-Up Video, the author of Kenneth Cole's Footnotes and Dan Savage's research monkey. These days, she runs Pete's Reading Series in Brooklyn, gets way too competitive in Scrabble, and likes fiction to the point where she doesn't mind being lied to, as long as it's entertaining. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband (a filmmaker), and their toddler son (a tyrant).

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59 thoughts on “15 Ways NOT to Raise Your Toddler: Our "Expert" Editor With Homespun Advice

  1. mommyfriend says:

    Ahaha ahahahahaha! Yes! All so true!

  2. Stephanie says:

    Hands down the best advice ever! Thanks for the laugh, I need it!

  3. Emily says:

    Ha! I love the last one – that does seem to be true, doesn’t it!

  4. Kellan says:

    Mira, awesome, funny article! When my cousin’s fiance’s 3 year old comes over, & I bathe her, I just laugh like crazy when pouring water over her head. She laughs too, so hey, it works!

    It actually does pass…but we can go with your humorous spin on it, lol.

    Thanks for some excellent advice!

  5. Jessica says:

    #12 is so my son! By the end of the day I have heard “why?” so many times, I’d buy him the whole dang ice cream store to shut him up!

  6. Tiffany says:

    Thank you!!! This was awesome. Its all too necessary to be able to laugh at this new life with toddlers, whenever possible!

  7. Mira says:

    Kellan, I am totally trying the laughing while I pour water trick tonight. Hopefully the kid will not be forever scarred by the experience. ;)

  8. Kim says:

    No you cannot catch vomit in your hands, not even the chunky kind. :(
    And poor Elmo, I hope there weren’t any witnesses. Great article!! Thanks for the laughs.

  9. Jeni says:

    I laughed so hard I almost dropped the toddler on my lap. Every bit was so true, and I could see myself and my son over and over-and no longer feel like the worst mommy ever because I am not alone!

  10. Nikki says:

    Thank you! That is just what I needed after the 40th day in-a-row alone with my two little monsters :) At least there is hope and this too shall pass!

  11. Cassandra says:

    my husband is guilty of #5 and #9 and it drives me crazy. #11 made me lol.

  12. Jolee says:

    I laughed out loud at each and every one of these then forwarded the link on to ALL of my friends. Great, Mira!!!

  13. Christy says:

    Here’s the thing I have FINALLY accepted. As long as I love my kids as much as I can, always do what I truly believe to be the right thing (except the time I yelled at the lady who parked so close to me I couldn’t even get the sliding door open!!! :-/), never intentionally cause physical harm, feed, water, & bathe daily I can consider myself a good parent. All of the other stuff will fall into play…besides, my Mom put me to sleep on my stomach, I had a pillow in my crib (and stuffed animals), I ate homemade baby food at 3 months(broccoli..thanks Mom! I LOVE it now!), and I rode in a crazy travel crib-thing with telescoping legs that somehow attached to the BAck seat of their ‘carry-all’ car…I’m not saying any of this is okay to do now, just illustrating that when OUR toddlers are Mommy & Daddy ‘WE’ will be the horrible parents who………(fill in the blank)……….. Happy parenting! I try to find the funny part of dreadful situations….i.e. Vomit in my hands….I DID think I could catch it!!! :-P

  14. Laura says:

    I will take 10 toddlers every day over 1 teen… and yes I have survived both and now am the wonderful grandmother who is doing her best to SPOIL and basically RUIN my grand children for their PARENTS! cause I can :)

  15. Jeff says:

    Alas, I note I am the only man here. But I am a father and yes, a grandfather. I just want to reiterate that the toddler years DO pass with nearly complete success. Very few of us — fathers or mothers — actually follow through with the desire at some point to kill our children. I would also like to add that my youngest daughter, the mother of a 5-year-old son and now pregnant with her second child, is the latest of my four children to also survive raising a toddler, at least once.

    Finally, a sobering thought for all you new parents: you will continue to be a parent the rest of your life. Nope, sorry, they may grow up but they are still your children. The nice part of that is you finally have the chance to stand back and laugh as their children do the same things to them that they did to you!

  16. Jeff says:

    Oh! I forgot to add how much I enjoyed this article. Thanks so much for the chuckle.

  17. Pearl says:

    “Dont Give Your Toddler Ice Cream as A Reward” it will end up all over the place! i love it, good advice thanks

  18. Carol says:

    AAAHHHH is right. LOL. I really needed this. Thank you. I have a four year old girl and a two year old boy and they drive me insane. I haven’t even tried to potty train my son yet. I’m too scared. But, I hear using a cheerio works….so they say.

  19. Jane says:

    LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT!! I so needed this, we are in the middle of the terrible horrible 2′s and I seriously needed a laugh! :)

  20. Eightcats Home says:

    Actually, toddlers are really easy. Nothing makes sense verbally so almost all your speech is basically rhetorical and dramatic. Toddlers understand physical parental contact and love astonishingly well, and want to be with dadda (momma too).

  21. Summer says:

    What a great article!! All true and so well written I laughed out loud throughout.

  22. lyz says:

    Mira, this is amazingly hilarious!

  23. Ana says:

    But what happens when you make the toy threat and your toddler says “okay mommy, put them in the trash”. I of course had to follow through and call his bluff, only he called mine and helped me throw them away. This article is right on time.

  24. Sunny says:

    Mine is almost 8 yrs old and I loved it. That is too funny…cotton mouse…didn’t think of that

  25. David and Sherri says:

    That was great!! Some of the most refreshing writing I have read in a long time!!!

    I luv IT!!!

  26. Miyy says:

    I Don’t Even Have Any Kids But Even I Had A Good Laugh At This Based On How Much I Hear & See These Things That It Clearly Say’s NOT to do .

  27. Peter says:

    I needed this tonight. As a WAH-SAHD who puts in 18 hour days and works second shift after dealing with #1-15 (and a 150 other items) all day, I’m pretty fried. I work my *** off for my kids, and I know they love me even though they make me crazy a lot of the time. But good grief, my 5yo DS can remember a hamburger from two years ago and knows what photosynthesis is. It FREAKING KILLS ME that he can’t stop hitting his sister after being told a thousand times not to… ahem, anyway… A note to all preschool (and K) teachers, administrators, WAH-SAHMs and so on: I realize we’re all still too new to believe, but let us SAHDs join the club, already. Don’t just quietly judge us. If we had that camaraderie going for us during our day while our wives worked first shift, maybe all the hard parts of rearing toddlers that OUR dads (missed out on/couldn’t be bothered with) wouldn’t feel quite so hard. Thanks.

  28. Stony says:

    I sort of disagree with #12, as a child I was EXTREMELY curious and am now a Professional Engineer. Feed that curiosity and be rewarded later.

  29. Jennifer says:

    Thank you! That gave me a much needed laugh.

  30. Misty says:

    I loved this! Laughed so hared I cried. Thanks for bringing some great humor into the stressful and very important roll of parenting.

  31. Candice Marie says:

    Love this TY!!!
    I have a 3 year old girl a 2 year old boy and a 1 year old girl!!!
    my days go by fast!!! ty 4 tha advice love it all
    god bless ALL

  32. Amanda says:

    LOVE IT! that advice should be in a parenting bible! enough said. :)

  33. Sue says:

    I think I love you!! Just what I needed…I dont know whether to laugh or cry…I’m actually doing both at the same time…as you know…you have to multi-task all the time!

  34. Tom says:

    No matter how much we complain about their behavior, just enjoy it because they grow up very fast and then you regret the time outs and the yelling and the evil thoughts you may have about the little terrors.
    My wife and I raised two boys and now one grandson. Where has the time gone to enjoy them. Just love them and live with all the petty annoyances. And share their time between Mom and Dad or Grandma and Grandpa.

  35. rebecca says:

    that was great!! i needed a good laugh in the middle of my day!!!

  36. Launi says:

    #13 is hilarious since Michelle Duggar is now preggers with #20. Wow that girl can make a baby, can’t she!

  37. Liz says:

    When my son trys to why me to tears, i ask him why do you think, insert question here. It usually stops those why’s in thier tracks.

  38. Jessica Lopez says:

    loved it couldn’t stop laughing

  39. oumrayan says:

    Can I share a funny one? My percocious 4yo, who really wanted to understand the logistics of his new baby brother’s upcoming birth, got the explanation with the best word I could find: “birth canal”. So, every time someone commented on my enormous baby belly, he would chime in with, “Yeah, and my little brother is coming out of Mommy’s birth canal soon!” It slayed me, but what can you say? I didn’t want it to feel like an off-limits subject, so I just blushed, smiled, and nodded.

  40. Rand says:

    Whenever my three year old son did something he shouldn’t do, I would chase him around the house and rough house with him when I caught him. It would expend some of his energy and it would level out my frustration of yet another cookie in the DVD player. This was all find until we took him to preschool and on the first day he told his teacher: ‘My daddy chases me around the house and spanks me.’ I almost died, and my wife almost killed me. My mother keeps telling me these are the best times of my life…

  41. V WALLY says:

    where the poop ended up during potty training is on my older son’s x box. and in the heater vent and in the dogs dish. she has put it every where but in the potty. My autistic daughter has been in the toddler years for 8 years so I don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s just par for the course. happy parenting havent laughed so much in months.

  42. Andrea says:

    On the washing of the hair, I didnt have any problems with any of my kids ( I have 7)… They were allowed to play with a cup and pour water on their own head.. after they got it wet, i handed them a washcloth ot place over thier eyes, then washed their hair, and their bodys with the shampoo suds… when I poured the water over them again to wah them off they held the cloth over their eyes and tilted their heads back, my youngest one at 17 months loves to get her hair washed this way.

  43. nat says:

    the comment about the Duggar family is arrogant and ruined the article.

  44. Renee says:

    I love this! I can not wait to share this with my daughter who has a 15mth old boy. I laugh so hard at her telling me things running off with the freshly folded towels because it brings back fond memories of me chasing her around after the clean laundry before she made it to the bathroom to “rewash” them in the toilet ! LOL! aaahhhh payback time!

  45. Jason says:

    Writer: Sugar does not cause hyperactivity. They are indirectly proportional. Ice cream is full of carbs not caffeine. use better rationale as to your reasoning for not giving ice cream, not fallacies.

  46. hanny says:

    i really loved it………………all the points are correct…………… not a parent my self but i knw that the things we find stupid or crazzy now make us laugh afterwards in life……………so enjoy every moment cauz this time will never come back

  47. Linda says:

    I tried very hard to never make idle threats. I know I lost respect for my Mom as a child because she would say things like “you can’t ride your bike for a week” the next day I was riding my bike. So if I told the boys I would do something, it most likely got done if they did or didn’t do whatever.
    The rest of the things you said I’m on the fence about mostly. But the last one I totally agree with.

  48. Kat says:

    This is by far some of the best motherhood advice I’ve read so far!….I’ve laughed so hard I cried!. Every bit was so true and described me and my son to the T. Thank you ! ……I no longer feel like the worst mommy in the world because I am not alone!

  49. Becky E. says:

    I loved the eggplant comment!! And with my boys, they don’t want their hair washed, but I tell them to look up at the ceiling so water drains away from their eyes. And then, if they don’t want to do that, I tell them they can either get water in their eyes or in their ears, and they choose to have it go in their ears.

    As for tampons, too late! But I made it very simple: “Mommies bleed every month, and the tampon keeps my clothes clean. They’re just for Mommies.” Otherwise, it would get more complicated and confusing!!

  50. bethh says:

    These are great! I laughed until I cried at #11. Sharing it now!

  51. JJ says:

    Hilarious, I’m sitting here at my desk in the office all giggling… it’s so very ture!!

  52. Ben says:

    “Hyper, sugared-up kids are more dangerous than a 20th Duggar pregnancy.”

    Classy. I bet Mira Jacob had a laugh riot when she heard Michelle Duggar miscarried a few weeks after she wrote this.

  53. brucross says:

    Considering the fact that the Duggar family lost their 20th child I think the last comment was innapropriate-everything else was very informing, but I would remove the last comment as respect for the loss of a child. Thank you

  54. Ann says:

    With three kids under 5, I can’t remember the last time I didn’t feel sleep deprived. This didn’t make me laugh, it made me want to weep “oh god, please don’t remind me!” The worst was when I realised I had just spent three minutes trying to work out if there really was a volume missing in the photo of the encylopedia, because I couldn’t remember if H came before or after I. And then I read the last caption, and told myself that one teething, one toddler and one bed wetter will eventually be three grown up and reasonably sane adults. Just like me and my siblings. THEN I laughed!

  55. nowimfound says:

    #11 came back to bite me while standing in line at the box office to buy baseball tickets, surrounded by big, burly men.

  56. susan says:

    I’m the oddball in that this ridiculous to me. Is it written to people that have toddlers. Or maybe it’s written to people that have no way to parent.
    When toddlers say why, they mean why. They should abosolutely be teaching the correct terms for things.
    And why is a 20th child for the duggers dangerous? I’m pretty apalled

  57. Ali says:

    As a grandmother of two boys, (having raised two girls,) I find things quite different. However, I love it. To me my grandsons are the brightest on the planet, especially the first born. It scares me how much smarter he is than his mother ever was. I laugh at what you posted because my daughter is stuggling with the soon to be 3 year old and I keep telling her, Hey he’s 2 and he’s a boy (as my mother-in-law, and I love this woman like my own mother, has told me, boys are different.) They so are. I smile every day because of them and have fun watching them grow up and react. I loved this so much I sent it to my daughter to open her eyes, to say hey, this is just how it is, relax and enjoy, it doesn’t last forever, keep those memories nearby.


  58. Dawn says:

    Hilarious!! I laughed so hard I cried…people need to get a sense of humor about raising kids.

  59. MB says:

    My 3 year old came up with this joke: What did the tissue say to the tissue box? I’m going to blow you. I told him, don’t repeat that one at preschool!

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