Our usually pretty chilled 4-year-old has been having some epic meltdowns lately.

Basically, whenever he is told "no", he crumples and cries. The other day it was because I reversed the car into our garage and he "didn't want to go backwards".

It's quite out of character for him but it has reminded me of a few things our two oldest kids - 6 and 4 - have both lost the plot over.

Here are some ways you're probably going to ruin your kids' day – and most likely your own:


1. Changing their nappy

This simple act can end so, so badly. How dare you try to keep them clean and dry? I never knew how strong toddlers were until I tried to put a nappy back on our girl. For so many months, she didn't want that thing back on.

2. Giving them the wrong coloured plate or cup

The earth could tilt on its axis over this one. Have you no idea how important the blue cup is when you, Slave, give me the yellow one? How dare you insult me with the yellow one!

3. Cutting their toast the wrong way

Snot tears. Why did you cut my toast into triangles when I asked you to cut it into triangles? This one is awful for everyone because they're the ones who are wrong but you're the one with the problem and there's no sane way to fix it.

4. Socks

How can something so small cause such a massive problem? This one killed an entire afternoon for me once. There was no consoling him. Absolute meltdown. I thought he'd had a bee sting as he screamed and pointed to his foot.

He'd had bee stings and they weren't as bad as the seam in this sock. Just take the ****ing sock off if it's that bad. Enjoy your blisters!

5. Making them wear pants/underpants/clothes

I'm not 100 per cent sure whether this is universal or if I just breed nudists, but I've lost count of how many battles I've had making sure the kids have clothes on when we leave the house. I lost the energy fighting it so the rule on wearing them back home is flexible at best. Ever since our oldest two have been able to remove clothes, they just randomly appear naked throughout the day.

6. Putting their shoes on the right feet

I admit it. There have been days I let my kids wear shoes on the wrong feet because I just didn't have it in me to keep battling them. Trip over if you want then, don't say I didn't try to stop you!

7. Doing up their seat belt

How could you upset them so much by trying to keep them safe? This one is the worst. I went through many hard months with this, two times over and I fear a third time is looming.


Every morning was a sweat-fest getting into the car. I gave up my morning showers and started wearing my running gear all day because I was sweaty from marathon wrestling matches by 8am.

Then around age 3, both of them learned how to undo their straps. These are seats I have transported 6-year-olds in recently, who can't undo the straps. I have slammed on brakes and pulled over at road sides as I wrestled my kids back into their car seats, fearing for days the police would call saying someone had reported my driving or my struggles.

8. Making them carry their own backpack or other items

Sorry, I only have the baby, a nappy bag full of equipment for everybody except myself, the mail, some artwork from school and day care and my jacket to take upstairs so I don't have enough arms to also carry your backpacks and you're going to stand there screaming at me for asking you to help me?

9. Making a choice for them

Give them an apple and they don't want an apple. The apple is grossly offensive.

Put bubbles in the bath and they don't want bubbles that night. Don't put it in, and they want bubbles. You're never going to get it right. Just don't bathe them. Ever. It's just not worth it.

10. Asking them to do anything

It doesn't matter what the request is, but they will not want to comply. Whatever it is you ask offends them deeply and they can not - will not - assist. They will either refuse and throw themselves on the floor in a slobbery heap or, as vengeance, they will want to do the opposite of whatever it is you want.

You try to use reverse psychology on them but they're too smart for that. They're too smart for you. Concede defeat and go and give yourself a time out in the bathroom.