Why's The Toddler Doing That: 20 Odd Behaviors Explained

Let’s talk about magic, witches, dragons, and fairies! Of all the mythical creatures, unicorns are at the top. And we’ve all heard of those innocent creatures who - just like pink unicorns - are hard to spot in the woods of parenthood: the "easy" babies, that we imagine stay easy their whole childhood. Toddlers may be hard to handle, but the truth is that their weird behaviors benefit their development.

Young kids are in the midst of learning all about boundaries, independence, and strong emotions, which often results in meltdowns and dramas. During the toddler years, parents can face numerous challenges as their little explorer is always questioning and exploring their surroundings. But hey, this phase, too, shall pass.

I had a unicorn baby. She was quiet, clever, and with smooth routines. But 18 months later, my bundle of joy just vanished with the rainbow.

Was it the lion - the enemy to the unicorn - that ate her? Or a malevolent elf who took over her sweet body? No, the truth is that my little girl became a toddler and the fluffy magic disappeared. She is still extremely beautiful, curious, and social, of course, but oh boy, don’t get near her when she is angry. Or the insane spirits of the Ouija board will go wild! She won’t hold hands, she’ll spit her breakfast out, and she’ll make sure everyone, including our neighbors, can hear her.

From head-banging to weird cravings, there’s nothing to worry about. Here are 20 odd behaviors explained.

20 Weird Behaviors = I’m Finding My Place In The World

Toddlers and odd behaviors go hand in hand. Some toddlers want to undress all the time, others want to wear plastic bags instead of their shoes.

Some kids do not let go of their favorite toys and talk to them as if they were alive. Every kid has their unique way to express themselves. A mother shared,

"My two-year-old thinks he’s a dog. When I come home, he barks and tries to lick my face."

Some odd rituals are way too wacky, but they help kids find stability and comfort. It’s their special way to find a place in the world.

19 Head-Banging = I Need Attention

A toddler's brain is amusing with its complex and expanding mazes. Although toddlers crave independence, they are still learning how to express themselves and control their impulses. To cope with their inability to communicate basic needs and frustration, some toddlers find comfort in repetitive head-banging.

In fact, repetitive motions such as rocking or head-banging can be extremely soothing.

Head-banging is also your child's way of saying, "I need attention." Expert Wittenburg told TheBump.com, "When your child gets a reaction out of you for something she’s done, she realizes there’s a big, red button she can push when she needs attention."

As long as your child is safe, just ignore it.

18 Clothes Off = What Is Public Behavior?

Children are innocent creatures and unlike adults, they do not freak out over a bit of nudity. Their birthday suit is the best piece of clothing they own, so they are happy to show it to the rest of the world. In fact, being able to undress is their way to show control and pride.

What’s more, kids are still learning about public and private behavior and modesty. To help kids comprehend how society and its norms work, parents can simply establish clear rules. For instance, explain to your little one that unless they get dressed, they won’t be able to play outside.

17 Fear Of Grandparents = Separation Anxiety

Kids are amazing creatures. They are like a fragile prism which reflects the whole spectrum of our colorful emotions. They cry, scream, laugh, and giggle – sometimes all at the same time.

Many toddlers, however, may act oddly around their families and grandparents, in particular. Although such behavior can be upsetting, it’s common for toddlers to experience stranger and separation anxiety - especially if they don’t see their grandparents very often, and those times are when you're going on vacation.

In addition, it's not a secret that separation stress is common in nursery school infants. Stress, on the other hand, can trigger separation anxiety later in life.

16 Biting = I’m Learning About Emotions

People are (social) animals, so it’s no surprise that toddlers act like feral cats sometimes. We all know that infants and toddlers love biting! Although this behavior is odd, your kid won’t necessarily become a bad person. Chewing on things is not only normal but beneficial for their oral development.

In fact, biting can boost their speech skills. By biting toys or other people’s fingers, kids learn about emotions.

On top of that, biting experiments can teach kids emotional intelligence and social skills. Instead of lecturing your child, try to communicate your feelings and show that biting can hurt.

15 I Want Daddy = I Love You Both

Favoritism is another odd but common behavior. Note that there are different stages of childhood development, so it’s normal for kids to go through the so-called daddy phase. Although this toddler behavior can be very upsetting for mothers, parents should understand that love and favoritism differ. Just because your little one demands Daddy, don’t assume they don’t love you.

It's actually quite the opposite.

When children develop a secure attachment style with their mothers, they start exploring different relationships, and their dadas become more exciting.

In other words, the daddy phase only "complements the relationship the child has with their mom."

14 Weird Cravings = I’m Experimenting

We all know that toddlers can be picky. They scream, "BANANA," only to spit it out once they actually get it and start crying for something else.

That doesn’t necessarily mean they are spoiled; It’s just hard for toddlers to express their needs and understand they can’t get all the things they want.

On top of that, some toddlers have crazy cravings that don’t involve food. Your kid might refuse their meal and choose some dirt instead. Yummy!

However, that’s completely normal. Kids are exploring the world and they use their mouths as tools. So, if your child is obsessed with eating weird objects all the time, don’t worry. Germs can only boost their immune system.

13 Imaginary Friends = I’m Confused But Creative

Pretend friends are necessary for child development, imagination, and creativity. It’s not a secret that kids love playing with stuffed animals and toys. Some toddlers may even create an imaginary friend.

In fact, according to PsychologyToday.com, 37% of kids have imaginary friends.

However, although you might find invisible Bob scary, there’s nothing to worry about. In healthy families, imaginary friends can help kids process anxiety and new stimuli. The world can be confusing, so talking to an imaginary friend or stuffed toy is just their creative way to cope with stress.

As expert Wittenberg says, "A world of the child’s making is much more comfortable."

12 Nose Picking = So Many New Things To Explore

Nose-picking is another odd habit toddlers have. However, nose-picking can be soothing. As long as it doesn’t become an obsessive behavior, just tell your kid is something they should try doing in the bathroom, with a tissue nearby.

Let’s admit it – even if you still use a tissue, we all pick our nose in secret.

On top of that, moms and dads should understand that the nostrils are very interesting holes. Toddlers are learning about their bodies and find everything fascinating.

And boogers taste nice! Interestingly, a study revealed that snot and the bacteria it contains can actually be good for kids and their oral health.

11 Hands In Pants = I Love My Body

From ladybugs outside to the cooking utensils at home, the world is an exciting playground for toddlers. As mentioned above, one of the best things to explore is their own body.

Kids are amazed by their little fingers, sweet toes, and pink lips, and the weird fact they can actually control them. Of course, they want to know more and more, so it’s normal for children to touch their private parts.

Self-touch might be embarrassing for parents, but it’s a normal habit. Unless it becomes obsessive, there’s nothing to worry about. Just explain to your kid that it’s something they can do alone in their room.

10 Playing With Their #2 = I'm Modeling Things And Creating A Mess

Playing with poop is not nice, but don’t worry, it’s not a weird fetish or disorder. Although moms and dads do not talk about it, doctors and psychologists agree that such behavior is normal. Expert Wittenberg adds, "It’s way more common than people realize, and most of the time it’s just that they’ve discovered an intriguing new plaything."

Take note that according to Freud, toddlers are fascinated by bowel movements, which is the second stage of their development.

Therefore, parents should make sure toddlers have other things to model and play with. Let kids make messes and express their creativity. Better crayons on the wall than the content of their diaper, right?

9 Breath-Holding = I Did It My Way

Breath-holding is scary to watch but it’s just a classic tantrum. We all know that toddler tantrums are challenging (and embarrassing) but experts believe they are vital for child development. Educator Deborah MacNamara told parents.com,

"Crying is not the hurt, but the process of becoming unhurt."

Outbursts help kids understand their emotions, sleep better, and cope with stress. Interestingly, crying helps people release cortisol and stress from their bodies.

Breath-holding is common in emotional kids. So, don’t give in to your child’s demands, mama, otherwise, you’ll reinforce their odd behavior. Make sure they’re safe and keep being a loving parent.

8 Reading The Same Book Over And Over Again = I’m Safe

Reading is the window to the world, people say. Reading has numerous benefits - it helps kids become familiar with sounds and letters and develop language and social skills. Repetition, on the other hand, gives kids a sense of security. Psychotherapist Mary Borowka says,

"Toddlers are beginning to understand that there are things they can count on, which makes them feel safe. Hearing the same story, again and again, helps them to understand that the world has order and they have some control over it."

Though reading is vital, we should mention that stats reveal that only 42% of kids in the US are being read to every day.

7 Inserting Peas Into Their Nostrils = I’m A Scientist

Kids are little scientists – they simply love tasting, licking, hitting, and touching all the small things around them. No doubt your little one can easily spot a small ant... and try to eat it. Toddlers are learning about the world and their own bodies.

So, all the little objects (everything that can fit in your child’s ears, mouth, and nose) are simply amazing. As Dr. Pruett says, "Your child has discovered he has this body, and it's all his and it's fascinating!"

Although it’s normal for babies and toddlers to insert stuff into their nostrils, parents should make sure their kids are safe.

6 Clinging To You and Pulling Away = Taste Of Independence

From coping with separation anxiety to testing boundaries, toddlers face numerous challenges. Therefore, they need their secure base - aka Mommy or Daddy. As educator Kathleen McCartney says, "Parents are the secure base for toddlers. So, it's not uncommon for new walkers to want to come back and make contact."

As a result, kids may start acting weirdly. They might be clinging to you one minute and pulling away the next. This is completely normal.

Toddlers just want to taste their bittersweet independence and make sure they still have someone who’ll hug and comfort them when they need love, understanding, and sleep.

5 Obsessed With Technology = I’m Like You

Kids are like sweet sponges, they imitate and absorb their surroundings. In our tech-driven society, chances are parents spend lots of time on their phones and computers. So, it’s no surprise many kids become obsessed with tech gadgets.

Your little toddler just wants to copy you and explore the secrets of your flashing device.

At the same time, by copying, toddlers are learning. As therapist Dr. Borowka says,

"Imitation is an early form of learning. By copying others, she's developing fine motor and cognitive skills - and she's figuring out how the world works."

So, praise your little one. In the end, they love you so much they want to be like you.

4 Drinking Bathwater – Party Time

Foam, toys, and steam - bath time is an extremely fun and bonding time. It’s not only about keeping a toddler clean and healthy. It’s also about helping them overcome their fear of water… and plugs. Funny enough, some kids think they might get sucked down the plug hole.

During bath time, some toddlers can start sipping and drinking bathwater. Although drinking bathwater might seem odd, this behavior is completely normal. As expert, Ann Douglas explains,

"To your toddler, it's like she's at a big tea party and she's sitting in the teapot."

As long as your little one is only sipping a bit of water, things are totally fine.

3 Playing With Boxes – Get Ready To Boost Their Imagination

Cats and toddlers have lots in common – they sleep in odd positions, they lick their toys, and they love boxes. Perhaps you’ve already noticed that your kid is not interested in toys or possessions. Of course, toys are important for an infant’s development but random objects make better toys. As Dr. Pruett says,

"Everything your child finds - from a worm to a piece of paper - could spark his imagination."

There’s so much to do with a box, for instance. Author Ann Douglas explained, "He can climb in it, wear it as a hat, or pretend it's a house, and there's no adult telling him what to do with it."

2 Dress Up = In Your Shoes

The importance of play in early childhood is imminent. Pretend play, in particular, helps kids develop their imagination, cognitive skills, and emotional responses. Dressing up is also crucial – the costumes they use simply help them explore everyday and imaginary scenarios in order to understand the world.

Most of all, dressing up helps toddlers put themselves in someone else’s shoes, which is important for their emotional development.

So, next time your boy dresses up like a princess and your girl like Spider-Man, do not panic. Toys have no gender, so parents should stop obeying artificially created social limitations and gender stereotypes.

1 Warning Signs = I'm Unique

Kids are unique and special. Toddlers, in particular, surprise us with their curiosity, intelligence, and odd behaviors. From biting to head-banging, kids are going through different stages, so there’s nothing to worry about. Although signs, such as extreme impatience, blurting out bad words, and refusing to interact, can serve as a warning, societies should stop label people.

In case you spot any signs of developmental delays, consult your practitioner instead.

Just make sure your little one gets enough love and support. Because just like unicorns – kids are miraculous. And with their innocent love, they put a spell on us for life.References: Parents.com, Psychology Today, Parents.com, The Bump, Parents.com, Wtop.com, and Zerotothree.org.

More in Parenting