Why naughty is normal

Toddlers can drive you up the wall with their tantrums and general naughtiness. But is that normal? 

Liar, liar, pants on fire!

Telling lies is normal behaviour in younger children because the boundaries between fantasy and reality aren’t so clear. And on the plus side, they can be seriously entertaining. ‘I didn’t mess my room up, it was Polly’, said my youngest, Henry, aged 2. Polly’s our cat and, clever though she is, she can’t trash a bedroom.

The best way to deal with lies like this is to see the funny side, as well as pointing out that lying isn’t acceptable. You need to be careful though, because a child can’t tell the difference between you saying to your plump friend, ‘No, of course you don’t look fat,’ and little Jack saying, ‘I didn’t eat any chocolate,’ when he’s covered in it from head to foot. White lies are too subtle for a child to understand, so use them with care.

The painful truth

You can’t take everything a toddler says too seriously. ‘I hate you, mummy,’ is simply the worst thing she can think of, so naturally she’ll say it when she’s cross. But she doesn’t really mean it; she’s just annoyed with you for that split second.

Learning how to be tactful comes with age and although there are certainly times when children can innocently offend, there are also moments when you know beyond a shadow of doubt that your little one is out to get you.

Ruth, mum to Lauren, 4, had one such experience. ‘My mother-in-law wears a wig and I confess that I have, on occasion, called her “Wiggy” behind her back. Unfortunately, Lauren must have overheard because the next time we were all sitting at the dinner table, she piped up with, ‘Granny, did you know that mummy calls you “Wiggy”?’
I suppose the moral of that story is never slag off your relations unless you’re in a sound-proof room!