‘Don’t play in the toilet!’: Parents reveal the weirdest reasons kids throw tantrums

NEW YORK — Parenting isn’t easy. Case in point, a new poll finds parents have a disagreement with their children every other day. A survey of 1,000 moms and 1,000 dads with kids under the age of four finds that the average parent compromises with their child about four times per week. Moms were more likely than dads to let their kids go to bed later (59% vs. 48%), but dads find themselves bargaining more over bath time (37% vs. 28%).

When the battle rages on, however, parents are ready to step up to the plate. Six in 10 claim they have “mastered” bath time (61%), bedtime routines (59%), morning routines (58%), and snuggling and bonding time (58%). Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Baby Magic, results also show that dads have a slight edge over moms when it comes to tantrum control (45% vs. 42%).

Three in four respondents (74%) say their children have thrown a temper tantrum in the last month, with the average child throwing a little over four per week.

So, what caused these tantrums? “Because he couldn’t fit a toy in his toy car,” “his shirt wasn’t pants,” and “I wouldn’t let them play in the toilet” were among some of the entertaining reasons. For others, it was “because the dirt on the floor was a monster,” “I gave her spaghetti and she doesn’t like the color red, so she refused to eat it,” and “he lost his pet worm.”

The house is a mess too!

The parenting doesn’t stop with cleaning up emotional mayhem, however, as the average parent cleans up at least one mess their child made per day. Most commonly, that mess consists of spilled food (72%), residue left from mealtime (70%), or dirt from playing outside (59%). This may be why most parents would rate their home somewhere between “five-second rule” clean (29%) and “well-lived in” clean (19%).

While half of respondents believe their home is cleaner than other parents, the other 50 percent agree that they are embarrassed by how messy their home is.

“From toys scattered around the home to sticky hands after mealtime — there will always be some sort of mess to clean up when you’re raising little ones,” says Hazel Smith, Senior Marketing Manager at Baby Magic in a statement. “But moms and dads agree, with the messy chaos of our lives it’s the slower, present moments that create lifelong memories. We have been there for over 70 years as parents have evolved and created new routines. But one thing we know, bath time bonding will always be there to help end a long day or begin a beautiful morning.”

Stressed out, tired parents on floor with wild young children in messy home
(© Nichizhenova Elena – stock.adobe.com)

Parenting isn’t about perfection

Half of parents say they split parenting duties equally. Parents divide and conquer to handle tasks like running errands with the kids (53%), reading to them (49%), and utilizing teachable moments (48%).

Even so, most are just soaking in every moment — so much so that if given the choice to handle mealtime, bedtime, or bath time with their child, most respondents (44%) wouldn’t be able to choose just one. Seven in 10 moms (71%) say they handle bath time the majority of the time, compared to just 24 percent of dads.

Parents aren’t perfect though, with more than three-quarters (76%) admitting they’ve made mistakes. Moms are more likely to feel guilty than dads when they make a mistake (59% vs. 44%), but more dads are stepping back and feeling refocused (30% vs. 18%). When they need another voice of reason, parents are turning to their own parents (52%), friends who have kids (43%), and health care professionals (36%).

“Parenting is messy, but oftentimes the beauty is found in the imperfections, especially when you have a village to help,” Smith says.

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 1,000 moms and 1,000 dads of kids ages 0-4 was commissioned by Baby Magic between Feb. 24 and March 7, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

South West News Service writer Livy Beaner contributed to this report.

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  1. When I was kid, there was no ‘disagreement’. You did what Mom and Dad said. You may not like it but you did it. A tantrum resulted in being ignored or removed from the restaurant or setting….not rewarded.
    Stop giving Junior everything he wants and stop debating.

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