5 Cringeworthy Toddler Behaviors

Cringeworthy Toddler Behaviors
Image adapted via Flickr/ Tanya Little

My son. He's a little lover. He is my cuddly one. The girls could take me or leave me, but not my boy. He's the epitome of a momma's boy. But, the boy is disgusting. Gross. The lint-and-hair-that-gets-stuck-to-the-bristles-on-your-vacuum-cleaner kind of nasty. Every bodily function, fluid, dirt, or germ gets stuck to the boy like a magnet most days. And of course, he wants to wipe it all over me! So thoughtful of him, don't you think?

What is it that these toddlers find so appealing about being so gross? I'm not sure, but I think it has something to do with a propensity for all things mushy and squishy. Here are 5 of the grossest toddler behaviors along with some secrets to curbing them.

Image via Flickr/ Burstyriffic

The Booger Wall

You know what this is, right? The wall directly next to where your toddler sleeps. Pretty close to the pillow, probably slightly lower. It's the spot on the wall that their hand hits first when they reach out to touch it while laying down—the spot where they wipe all their boogers. Because I guess we should just be glad they decided not to eat it? Eww.

My solution: That spot got a command clip with a hanky attached. Not the most attractive solution, but at least it was something I could remove and wash, instead of scraping dried boogers off of the wall. This mothering thing is so glamorous, isn't it? For my older daughter, tissues on her nightstand was a great solution. My son couldn't be bothered to turn and reach a distance of two feet. 

Boys …

Image via Flickr/ Marie in NC

Eating Food From Who Knows Where!?

At any given time in my home, there are only a couple of guarantees. One being that if you lift a couch cushion, look in the cracks of the highchair, or check behind the door of the garbage cupboard, you're bound to find a rogue Cheerio or goldfish cracker. My toddlers are acutely aware of this fact, and despite my seemingly never-ending task of cleaning up these kinds of messes, the fact remains that if there is a stray snack food covered in dust, they will find it and pop it right in their mouths! 

{ MORE: Potty Training Doesn't Have to Mean Being Stuck at Home }


While I've amped up my loose food-item retrieval efforts, I've also implemented a kids' shelf in the kitchen. In one of my lower cupboards, I have little zip-lock baggies with portioned-out healthy snacks. They can go in there and grab what they fancy quickly and easily. The cupboard has a child safety lock on it, but once I open it up for them, they are in control of choosing what they'd like, and they've loved feeling like they have a bit of control. This also works great when we're on our way out the door and we need to throw some snacks in the diaper bag. They get to choose the snack, in the bag it goes, and we're off! It takes a little more energy on shopping day to package everything up ahead of time, but for us, it's been totally worth it!

Image via Flickr/ Janet McKnight

Public Floors

Please tell me that this is not just my kids. This happens whenever we have to be somewhere where we need to wait. Chairs are, obviously, not an option. My kids are always on the floor. Not just on the floor either—all OVER the floor. Like wiping their face on it and rubbing their hair on the carpet. Gross, muddy, salt-covered floor. The checkout at the store? On the floor, getting the dust bunnies out from under the shelf that hasn't been moved in a decade. (Probably to get a Cheerio that rolled under there.) In the hallway, outside my daughter's classroom? Laying on the floor, having a fit because pick-up time is also about ten minutes past what should be bedtime. The potential for germs and illness here is striking. So gross, yet they do not see any of that.

Someone help me out here, because beyond throwing down a blanket or keeping them strapped in the grocery cart, screaming, I've got nothing here. I've tried bribing them with electronic devices, but they end up on the floor, too. Any suggestions here? My kids are gross.

Image via Flickr/ Michael Coghlan

Hands Down Their Pants

ALL. THE. TIME! It's been worse with my son, obviously. I mean, he can't leave it alone. Potty training has not helped the matter. It's much easier to access with an elastic waistband than a diaper. Just. No. I am constantly telling the boy to wash his hands, which is probably a good thing since he spends so much time rolling around on the dirty floor.


My only solution here: Overalls. They're a bit of an extra barrier. I've also tried shame, but he doesn't seem to have any.

Image via Flickr/ TerryJohnston

Potty Accidents

I'm not just talking about the “didn't make it in time” accidents either. I'm talking about the “oops, I accidentally peed all over the wall because I missed the toilet.” Or when you're playing at the park, and your son decides he doesn't want to stop playing, so he just pulls down his pants and pees down the slide. Of course, I'm not saying that happened … Ugh. I can't even tell you how much urine I've cleaned up in the past few years of my life with toddlers. I'd be willing to go toe to toe with a nurse, and that's saying something.

I know they're just learning. They'll master personal hygiene eventually. Shame will kick in at some point. What's that thing you always hear when you're potty training? “They'll get it eventually. They won't go to college in diapers.” Well, it's true. Hopefully, my son won't go to college and wipe his boogers all over the wall, and if he does, consider this my public apology to his future roommate. Might I suggest a command hook and a hanky? 

{ MORE: Snacks for Dinner? Keeping it Simple and Healthy }

It's these little things that we'll look back and laugh about later, but that stress us out, and gross us out now.

What endearing qualities does your toddler have? Any tips for curbing the unpleasantries? Tell us in the comments!

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5 Cringeworthy Toddler Behaviors

Jeanna Strassburg is a wife, and mother of three, who enjoys kitchen dance parties and summer time! Jeanna received her bachelor’s degree in Education from Brigham Young University-Idaho in April of 2007. She enjoys spending her time cooking, cleaning and tending to the proper duties of a stay at home mother… NOPE! Truthfully, she enjoys eating the food, but not making it or cleaning up after it. She likes to have a clean home, but loathes laundry and dishes. Loves her children, but coul ... More

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  1. Rebekah says:

    Why are you “shaming” your son about putting his hand down his pants? It’s a natural part of development. Small children use it for comfort and coping because it feels good. Of course you don’t want them to do it in public; I had the same issue with my oldest daughter. I just told her in private that I knew it felt good, but she should only do it when she was alone. I told her that was hers to touch, no one else should touch it, and that she shouldn’t touch anyone else’s. Then, the next time I caught her doing it in public, I gave her a discreet reminder of our conversation. I believe I only had to talk to her about it three times total. Shame should never be involved in this type of action. It’s bad for their sexual development and causes them to not even want to talk about any type of problems or issues they may have involving their privates. If you’re matter of fact and don’t make a huge issue of it, they’ll still get the message, but in a more positive way.

    • Rebekah- thanks for your concern. Really, the tone of this piece was humor. I would never truly try to make my son feel ashamed. But, for the context of this article what I was trying to convey was that he may feel a form of embarrassment at having his hands down his pants in public.


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