My Toddler Hates Me

My husband and I recently entered the toddler stage with our son. It’s the phase of life where you actually start parenting. Gone are the days of just keeping them alive – you must now help them learn how to be productive members of society.

Toddlerhood has so many cool developments to witness: independence, communication, mobility, and curiosity. And with all those exciting things also emerges their unique personality traits, unreasonable “logic,” opinions, and the impressive ability to throw a fit about any and everything. Tell me, is it possible to be a professional tantrum-thrower? Seriously, is it? Because one moment I will find myself staring at the cutest little human I’ve ever seen, and the next moment, I see a gremlin {that resembles my child} throwing a fit because of the pair of shoes I suggested he wear.

The mood swings are frequent, intense, and unpredictable. Which is why there are days when I truly question if he hates me. {Okay, hate is a strong word, but days I question if he even remotely likes me.} Now I know, “It’s just a phase … He’ll grow out of it … You’re his mommy, so of course he loves you.” But seriously, there are harder days than others when this question pops into my head. You would think the facts that I had gestational diabetes which deprived me of all delicious pregnancy food, had to give myself insulin shots, AND had a c-section would be enough to make him appreciate me every second. You feel me? But no, in toddlerland there is no guarantee of days filled with logic, appreciation, ration, rainbows, unicorns, or fairy dust Skittles. {I don’t know what those kind of Skittles are, but I bet they would be delicious and pretty.}

So yes, there are some days I think my toddler hates me…

  • The days that you are on the receiving end of their signature “stink face.” You know the one, where their face contorts in sheer annoyance and irritation just before letting out that shrilly whine to let you know just how displeased you have caused them to be.
  • The days that you enter the daycare classroom filled with anticipation to see your little one after a long day of work, and you squat down and wait open-armed for him to run over and give you a big hug … all to find that he has decided his daycare teacher needs another hug and you don’t need any. So there you are squatting on the ground empty-armed and mouth-gaping as your toddler decides he’s not going to hug you. If you’ve never been dissed by a toddler, buckle up; it’s amazing how someone so tiny can make you feel so stupid.
  • The days when the answer to any of your questions, suggestions, directions, instructions, or any group of words directed towards your toddler is “No.” It’s the first word our son learned, and it was cute at first, but now….. Meh.
  • The days where you find out that not only has your toddler gone another day without saying “Momma,” but that he said the daycare security guard’s name. On that particular day, his daycare teacher excitedly proclaimed, “Oh, you should’ve seen him say it! It was so cute how he pointed and said ‘Kevin.’” Yea, super cute. Momma doesn’t want or need recognition or anything. Hey kid, wasn’t it the daycare security guard who slept upright in a chair with you last night because you didn’t feel good? Oh that’s right, it wasn’t. It was the lady you see every day who you refuse to verbally identify!
  • The days where the whining is non-stop and you think surely your toddler is a part of some sort of mom-mental-torture club. A club that slowly breaks down a mom’s will, patience, and mental well-being, one high shrieking whine at a time. {Insert all the eye-roll emojis.}
  • The days when you become a human punching bag. While this isn’t an everyday occurrence, our son is still learning that hitting and biting are not appropriate ways to communicate {no judgement, please}. After daycare hours can be tricky in our household. If the cranky factor is at a dangerous level, then that usually means mommy punching bag needs to be more alert. No one likes to be hit, but getting slapped/bit all while maintaining a level of patience and composure is only an art that parents can strive to perfect. At a public holiday event, he slapped me right in the face – which is another example of how a small person can make you feel real stupid.
  • The days that the sight of you escalates the current situation to DEFCON 4 level meltdown. There have actually been times that my efforts to comfort my son during a meltdown caused him to take the hysteria to a different level. Kudos to you, kid. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more disliked than in that moment – the moment that my mere presence made everything worse.

A crying toddler sitting in a small chair.

But there are also many days when my toddler doesn’t make me question if he even remotely likes me. In fact, his actions make my heart swell and give me all the love feels.

  • The days that he finds his favorite book and asks {in his own language} to come up on the couch and sit in my lap to be read to.
  • The days that I walk into daycare and he drops his toys and runs over to me with open arms and a look of excitement that makes the 9-hour work day forgettable. Those are the days he quickly starts telling everyone “Bye-Bye,” grabs my hand, and gives the old peace out to aforementioned daycare teacher – ha, no extra hugs for you this evening, teacher-lady!
  • The days that I go to comfort him when he is upset, and he lays his head on my shoulder. I’m sure the old head on the shoulder move has been melting mom hearts for all of eternity. And is it just me, or are their heads perfectly shaped to fit in the crook of our necks?
  • The days when he insists on giving me a hug, pulling back to look into my eyes, cupping my face, and laying a big, fat kiss right on my lips. I don’t think words can accurately describe the feeling you have when your toddler intentionally shows affection. It’s like all those months of give, give, give are repaid in that one simple act.
  • The days that you hold hands as a family, bless your dinner, and you hear a little toddler voice say, “Amen” at the end with you. That boy may still be learning how to say “Momma,” but he sure seems to be picking up on who we thank for all our blessings {the Big Guy upstairs}, and that makes a mom heart swell.
  • The days we read our night time books, complete with animal noises, and he remembers that a goodnight kiss is the last step of our goodnight routine.

A toddler leaning against his mother's lap with her arm around him.

So yes, if I am being honest, there are days I feel like he hates me. But there are many more days where I feel and know I am loved by him. I have a feeling this is only the beginning of the emotional rollercoaster you ride as a mom as your child becomes their own person. Maybe this is why people have baby books – to write down all the cute things to reference when they feel like their kids don’t like them. But I can’t be too sure because I don’t have a baby book for my kid … but that’s another post for another time.

Until then, let’s commiserate together. What about you? Which days does your toddler hate you?

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Jaclyn D
Jaclyn was born a Jersey Girl, but became a Texan after moving here at age 5. After a degree from Texas A&M, she began her career in the oil/gas industry within talent acquisition. Simultaneously, she realized she had a crush on a boy named Andy who became her best friend, #1 supporter, and eventually her husband 5 years ago. After many years of Inner Loop living, they welcomed their son Mason {May 2015} and made the ‘burb life’ jump to The Woodlands {hello, nature and commute}. When she isn’t working fulltime in the office, she is putting in the Starbucks fueled hours at home hoping to be a great ‘employee’ for her spirited, sweet, non-stop energy, at-home boss - son Mason. {Side Note :: Being a boy mom should have a manual included at the hospital. Amen?} While off the clock for both jobs, Jaclyn is getting connected in her church, trying the newest workout fads {jogging doesn’t cut it}, making to-do lists, crossing off said to-do lists, Mexican food, wine, wine, wine and trying to convince her husband that New Girl IS a funny show.


    • My son is 34 years old. When he was 2, he looked at me with hate in his eyes. When my husband got home from work I told him that my relationship with our son became scarry that day. I was upset. He ended up being diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome. Today he is a successful data analyst and lives 500 miles away. He came home this week for his father’s birthday. No card, no gift, no decent clothing to go out for dinner. He is basically a kind human. It’s just that something is missing.

    • Thank you for writing this, I googled why does my toddler hate me? Looked through a couple pages but nothing stood out like this blog. I have always felt like my daughter who a year and a half preferred my husband over me. I recently started working again and when I get home I usually want a kiss from my kids. She is always the one to hesitate she makes me feel as if I’m a stranger to her if I pick her up, kiss her, go near her anything she starts crying like if I was hurting her. I hope that this is a phase and it will pass because I don’t know how I can continue to come home to his behavior. It breaks my heart to think my baby hates me. But I’m hoping she will lighten up. Thank you for this blog, thank you for making me feel like I’m not alone and this will pass.

      • I just want you to know that you are not alone. I feel the exact same way you do about my 18month old son. He chooses his dad for everything. I can’t even comfort him when he’s sick. if his dad is around, I can’t even hold him. He cries every time his dad leaves but doesn’t care when I do. It literally kills me and I cry every night. I seriously hope this ends, because I don’t know how much more I can take.

  1. Through big fat tears (of my own) I Googled, “why does being rejected by my child hurt so much,” & stumbled upon this. Thank you, I needed this. My 2 y/o doesn’t hate me after all…

  2. My 13 month old does all of those signs that he hates me and none of those signs that he doesn’t. I have no idea what to do. I grew up with parents who didn’t love me, or at least didn’t show it very well and hurt me in many ways. I have done everything I can to make sure my son has an entirely different life than I did. I do everything I’m supposed to, I’ve read all the articles and I follow all the expert advice to ve gentle and feed him often enough and talk about his emotions and read to him and play with him and hug him and kiss him and he still hates me. It seems like he screams at me all day long. I have no idea where to turn. I feel completely dejected. I just want to believe that he’s having a good life and that he knows how much I love him. He acts like I am as bad as my own parents.

    • Hi Amanda,

      Thank you for boldly sharing this. I share the same experiences, and can say, he does this with you because you make him feel safe enough to do so. In a strange way, he is testing you to see if you will be there for him. It is evolution in its rawest form. Congrats, you are doing an excellent job, and it WILL pay off.

      In the meantime, I can say that taking extra time to take care of myself has really helped tremendously during this time. For me, this means extra hot baths, relaxing music, and walking to clear my mind and meditate on nature. I truly wish you and your son the best. Hang in there!



    • Same, Amanda. Same. I have six kids and my two year old is the last and the only one to absolutely just despise me. He screams like I am beating him if I try to go near him while my husband is around. He 100% of the time prefers my husband over me and my husband snaps at me when I don’t take the baby screaming, kicking, scratching and spitting because hubby needs to get things done. I feel so worn down and exhausted. I am the most loving parent but I discipline and have to tell my kids no sometimes. My husband doesn’t ever tell them no. No idea what to do except wait it out and hope it passes. Glad I am not alone.

  3. My almost two year old just gave me the stinkiest face yet for, you know, existing in the living room. Thank you for this. I google “Why does my toddler hate me” pretty often, but I do need to focus on the good days.

  4. Which days does your toddler hate you? Answer: any day that ends in ‘Y’.
    I googled ‘My toddler hates me’ and found your blog. Thank you. I don’t feel alone anymore. The terrible twos are NO JOKE.

  5. Same…I also googled “My toddler hates me” and ended up here. Your blog has definitely helped to change my perspective and given hope for another day where my little one expresses her love for me the way I do for her.

  6. I am the only one that takes my aon anywhere Because the car seat is in my car. I take him on walks. I take him to the playground. I drive him to school. So why does he treat me like the devil? Ready for this stage to end.

  7. Thank you for this!!! I googled why my toddler hates me. There was a few links i clicked on, but it didn’t tell me much. This was well written and on point!!! It gives me some relief to know other moms feel this way at times. Thank you again!!!

  8. I googled why does my toddler hate me. I found this, although I’m still waiting for the good half to show at 20 months I hope one day I get something akin to at least tolerating me. I sat there bawling last night as for the millionth time he acted like me hugging him was literally setting him on fire and throwing his toys into oncoming traffic. I’m constantly asking what I did wrong to be hated. I literally almost died from pre-e, HELLP, GD, and placental abruption with heart, kidney and liver failure. And emergency c section. So I get where you were coming from with that part completely and felt, for once, that I’m not alone.

    • Me too! I had a horrible pregnancy that I don’t want to get into and ended up with a c section also. You’d think going through all of that would mean something. He used to be the sweetest boy in the world and lately it just feels like it is getting worse. Every. Little. Thing is a battle and I’m the bad guy. I don’t remember the last time he gave me a hug or snuggles and it feels really rough.

  9. Ladies, you have no idea how much better I feel to know it’s not just me. Today my toddler decided school was his new home and *refused* to let me pick him up to take him home. I took him out of the building screaming bloody murder. I thought to myself “they for sure think I beat him or something after this”. I literally practice the most gentle parenting possible. Then when we came home and I tried to join in playtime with him and grandma he smacked me right across the face and shut the door. Found this after what must be my tenth “why does my two year old hate me” search for the week. I do it all for him 100% everything so why am I the devil in this story?

  10. Wow, so glad I’m not alone. I’m sitting here literally in tears because after working all day I go to pick up my son from his dad and he clung to him like I was going to put him in a torture chamber! Broke my heart. I do everything for my son and he used to really love me but lately he only wants daddy or grandma! It’s killing me!!

  11. Thank you so much for this piece and for everyone’s comments. I was feeling so alone. I’ve been going for days (weeks?) of my 14-month-old making a beeline towards daddy, refusing to cuddle with me and screaming like she’s on fire when I get her from bed in the morning. During a middle-of-the-night waking last night, while being soothed by daddy, she pushed my hand away when I even tried to stroke her head. I felt like maybe she was punishing me for going out of town on a work trip but I’ve been back for a while now. 🙁


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