Toddler Talk Decoded: What Toddlers Say Vs What they Mean

Can you often be found desperately trying to tame an epic tantrum caused by your failure to grasp what your toddler REALLY wants? You know you heard the words correctly, but you’ve somehow gotten it all wrong. Again.

Search no further – our toddler-to-grown-up translation tool will help you figure out the true meaning behind your child’s words.

*Disclaimer: tantrum elimination not guaranteed.

young boy screaming, toddler tantrum
Source: Bigstock

1. “I want toast”

Aaaahhhh, the classic toast trap. No matter how you cut it, it’s game over. You may as well have served your toddler kale for brekkie because what they really mean by “I want toast” is. “No matter what you put on my toast or how you cut it, it WILL be wrong and I will fling it at the cat’s head.”

2. “No car”

Two simple words which translate to:  “I hate car rides more than I hate incorrectly cut toast. If you try to put me in one, I will transform my body into a stiff board and everyone knows you can’t put a seatbelt on a board. If you somehow manage this impossible feat, I will scream for the rest. of. your. life.”


Also known as, “If you don’t let me watch Bluey on your phone while we wait to see the doctor, I’ll blurt out, ‘I LOVE WINE!’ as soon as we walk into her office.”

toddler bedtime
Source: Bigstock

4. “No poo”

When your toddler catches sight of the super expensive potty you bought that sings show tunes and shoots out sparkles to attract small children, they’re likely to utter this little gem. But “No poo” doesn’t just mean “I don’t feel like pooing on the potty right now, Mum, maybe later.”

It means:  “I will still be pooing in a nappy when I graduate high school and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

5. “Hungy”

This isn’t a gentle suggestion to locate a snack at your convenience within the next 30 minutes. OH, NO.

It means:  “I AM HUNGY AND I AM HUNGY NOW. Produce foodstuffs immediately or I will make you wish you’d stayed at home folding that Everest of washing you’ve been avoiding for weeks.”

6. “Puppy!”

For my twins, this meant  “Take us over to pat that dog or we will lie down in the middle of the footpath and scream bloody murder until you find something furry for us to pat. There’s two of us, so that’s double the tantrum power… do you really want to test us?!”

COVID lockdown was a nightmare – thousands of dogs walking around, but no pats allowed. So. Many. Double. Tanties.

7. “MINE”

Toddlers be like:  “Share? What is this ‘share’ nonsense you keep babbling about? This is MY toy. I obtained it by having a next-level meltdown at MY favourite toy shop and I will not let that snot-nosed kid touch it or even glance at it. MINE MINE MINE. Do I need to scream it again?”

8. “Not tired”

Remember that wee little nap you let your toddler have on the way home from a big day out? It was just 10 minutes to take the edge off, right? WRONG. Your child is now convinced they’ve had a full night’s sleep and they are NOT TIRED.

It doesn’t matter how much you beg, sing, rock, plead, bribe or cry, they are – you guessed it – NOT TIRED.

Huh – I guess toddlers do mean what they say in this instance. It’s just not what parents want to hear at 9:47pm.

9. “Pwease”

When the apple of your eye tacks this adorably mispronounced word onto the end of a ridiculous demand, you know you’re doomed.

How can you possibly say no to, “Archie can have pony, mama, pweeeeaaaase?” Off to the pony shop, you trot.

10. “Oopsie”

If you hear this from the other room, take several deep breaths before going to investigate the “oopsie”. Kids who can sit in poopy nappies for hours and don’t notice when the house looks like a bomb site will only say “oopsie” when it’s very, very bad.

I’m talking walls smeared in nappy rash cream or permanent marker on your new cream couch kind of bad.

Deep breaths, mama, deeeeep breaths.

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Avatar of Sabrina Rogers-Anderson

Sabrina Rogers-Anderson splits her time between pursuing her passion as a freelance writer and singing “I'm a Gummy Bear" at the top of her lungs on the Sunshine Coast. She used to be staunchly anti-princess, but her seven-year-old big girl and five-year-old twin daughters beat that out of her pretty quickly. Sabrina started her career in her native Canada before moving to Australia nearly 15 years ago. Her work has been published in renowned magazines and websites around the world and she's also written two books. But don’t let the glamorous facade fool you – she conducts all her important phone calls and radio interviews from the safety of her car so that her kids can’t find her and scream “Poo-poo-bum-bum!” into the phone.

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