Temper tantrums are a lot of things: loud, disruptive, embarrassing, chaotic, and, well, natural. They’re also, on certain occasions, hilarious. No, tantrums are not laughing matters. Young children have a limited vocabulary and uncontrollable emotions and don’t understand how to react to sudden changes in schedules, stress, and a variety of other things so they explode in a crying, red-faced rage. Sometimes, the changes they freak out about are inherently hilarious: a different colored cup than they’re used to, a breakfast burrito they don’t want to eat and definitely don’t want you to eat, either, a toilet paper roll. While in the moment, a toddler’s reaction is very not fun. In retrospect, parents have learned to find the humor in the strange things that made their kid fly off the handle. Here, 13 parents share stories of their toddler’s funniest tantrum.
The Matt Damon Incident
“My toddler woke me up one morning screaming for ‘Matt Damon.’ My sleepy mind couldn’t figure out why my toddler was screaming for this actor. After several minutes of her hysterical screaming I finally figured out she wanted to eat macadamia nuts, which were her favorite nuts. Her pronunciation was perfect, ‘Matt Damon, Matt Damon.’ Funny to tell this story now but in the moment it was absolute torture and confusion.” — Darrin, 50, Colorado
The Toilet Roll Fight
“My daughter had a toddler tantrum about getting the toilet paper I’d just pulled off for her back on the roll. I told her she could pull another piece but no, she wanted me to stick back the piece I had pulled off so she could then pull it herself. This caused a huge amount of crying and stomping which lasted at least half an hour with her shouting ‘PUT IT BACK, PUT IT BACK.’
She did the same thing with a tangerine I started to peel for her, she wanted the peel back on the orange so she could do it. I guess it was that ‘ME, MINE, and I CAN DO IT’ stage.” — Corinna, 52, California
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“A couple of weeks ago we were visiting some friends in Brooklyn and attempted to go to a restaurant that had a 1 hour wait. Since our 2 year old was definitely not going to be okay with that, we got in a car back to Manhattan and told him we would cook him his favorite meal at home — macaroni and cheese. To our great surprise, he launched straight into a tantrum with crying and screaming and shouted, ‘I want to go to a restaurant!’ It was very hard to stop laughing, but we quickly rerouted to a local Italian restaurant and the tantrum subsided.” — Russell, 46, New York
Drama Queen City
“When my daughter was four, she had regular tantrums in her preschool at the YMCA. One day, the teacher remarked calmly that she was acting like a drama queen. My daughter stamped her little foot and screamed, ‘I am not a drama queen!’ Eight years later, she’s volunteering as an aide in the same preschool classroom. Her teacher still laughs over that tantrum, and got special permission for my daughter to volunteer with her over the summer.” — Melissa, 49, Oregon
“My son longs to know what’s in the fridge. The most upset I ever see him is when I close the door before he’s had a chance to walk over and inspect (read: destroy) the bottles of condiments. Usually he just grabs ketchup and Sriracha. It’s always red. Always hot sauce related.” — Evan, 31, New York
The Breakfast Burrito Breakdown
“One morning, my toddler refused to eat the breakfast burrito I made for him. So, after 30 minutes of it sitting on the counter —and after he was done with the rest of his breakfast — I took a bite of it and he lost his shit. I offered him the rest and he said ‘no’ and cried harder. And so I kept eating and that only made him angrier.” — Kevin, 35, Chicago
The Kitty Pool Scaries
“The funniest tantrum my youngest daughter Claire ever threw was during the summer before she turned four. We told her we wanted to take her to the kiddie pool at the resort. She immediately burst into tears, threw herself on the floor and refused to put on her swimsuit. She eventually calmed down and we asked her why she didn’t want to go to the pool, after all, she loves the water. She said she didn’t want to go because she was afraid the cats would scratch her. She thought we were taking her to a ‘kitty’ pool.” — Gina, 31, New York
Wet Sock Sadness
“My son and I were shopping at a local outdoor mall. They have a water fountain and my son insisted on climbing in. When he did, his socks got wet. For whatever reason, my son hates it when his socks are not absolutely perfect. The moment his socks got wet, he threw himself down in the water and proceeded to scream bloody murder. I immediately grabbed him, but no matter what I did, I could not get him to calm down.
The only solution to this problem was dry socks. As a thoughtful parent, I usually always pack a change of clothes, but never a second pair of socks. I was forced to leave the mall, carrying him through a Pottery Barn store to get to the car. My son was kicking and screaming so bad that water was literally going everywhere inside of the store. I ran with my son as fast as I could to get out. I left in such a frenzy that I accidentally left my son’s shoes next to the water fountain.
We got in the car, and he immediately stopped crying. I was blown away. It was like nothing had happened. I was so embarrassed and I refuse to shop at that Pottery Barn still to this day out of fear they might recognize me as the father of the soaking wet crying baby!” — Bret, 36, Chicago
The Rule Breakers
“My son Beau is funny in general, so it would stand to reason that he would also throw funny tantrums. He’s four-and-a-half now, super smart, and quite verbose. He also likes to set plans for everyone and make sure we follow them. We’re working on who’s in charge as well as who’s plan trumps whom, but, anyone with a toddler knows how hard a task it can be to convince them of something they’re sure you’re wrong about. The funniest temper tantrum he ever threw was when I did something to break his plans. He told me, ‘Daddy! You are breaking my plan! You’re cutting it up into small little pieces!’ He then proceeded to scream about how I was cutting his plan up and tearing it to shreds. I didn’t even know what his plan was but I was clearly ruining his day. I feel bad saying that it was funny but the way in which he described it was hilarious and I still chuckle about it to this day.” — Paul, 36, Colorado
The Subway Number Problem
“From the ages of three to five, our daughter insisted on only riding the numbered subway lines that represented her age at the time. She would throw a fit on the platform and we’d need to drag her kicking and screaming into the subway car if we had to take another line. Luckily, we lived near the third largest subway station in New York which made it easier to find a corresponding train.” — Jenny Powers, Brooklyn
The Sleeping Sock Meltdown
“My son sleeps with socks on. Weird. But that’s besides the point. One day, I accidentally put two different socks on his feet. He felt the difference and started laughing and asked me to fix it so I did. An hour later when I assumed he was sleeping, he comes out of his room because he wants to tell mommy the ‘funny sock story.’ I tell him ‘no, go back to bed.’ Well, let me tell you I might as well have told him I had to take him to the doctor because he was basically the devil — crying, almost barfing up his cries, screaming that we never let him do anything fun. We literally went ice skating hours before and he said it was the ‘funnest thing ever.’” — Brian, New City, NY
The Bathroom Wiping Incident
“My son was so mad at me the other day, crying after I asked him not to wipe himself, because I don’t think he’s quite there yet. I repeatedly asked him not to do it and asked him if he pooped. He cried and cried and I was freaking out because I didn’t see poop. Couldn’t figure out what was going on and why he was crying until he expressed that he needed to wipe after pee ‘like mommy.’ Basically, he was mad he doesn’t have a vagina.” — Chrissy, 34, Stamford, CT