Do toddler tantrums get worse on holiday?

On our recent holiday I decided that Master ATWWAH definitely has more tantrums on holiday than he does when we are at home.  At first I decided that it was because Good Cop, aka Mr ATWWAH, was with us and he usually gets his own way more so on the couple of occasions when he is disciplined he doesn’t like it and all hell lets loose.

But then I decided to come up with my own toddler psychology theory that it is because when we are on holiday there is less of a pattern to our day and what he is probably craving is a bit of structure.  Bath time and bedtime are generally later than usual, meal times are a bit more erratic, far too much orange juice is consumed, he’s exposed to lots of new experiences……is everyone else with me on this?

Unfortunately running in parallel to Master ATWWAH’s increased toddler tantrum quota is my lack of patience and sense of humour about it.  Sometimes you just want to relax when you are on holiday but that isn’t always possible with a toddler.  I forget this occasionally.

We can laugh though about some of our ‘favourite’ tantrums and our very different reactions.  In Venice we took Master ATWWAH on a gondola after he walked around all day declaring he ‘wanted to go on a gond-o-li’ but not much longer after going on it he started to whinge to go on one again.  We pointed out that we had been on one and reminded him it was good fun but he just kept saying ‘I NEED to’ and then proceeded to have the biggest tantrum in the middle of the busy street.

We got some sympathetic looks as he started to sob and shout ‘gond-o-li’ but also some of those ‘don’t you know how to control your child’ looks as he ran off heading to a supermarket.  Mr ATWWAH followed him while I waited outside as he retrieved him.  He brought him back, he ran away again with Mr ATWWAH shouting back to me that he would buy some water in there anyway.  About 10 minutes later they returned with some water and a triumphant Master ATWWAH clutching a brand new Lightning McQueen from Cars plate.  ‘Ah, a reward for having a tantrum, nice work’, I declared, ever the know-it-all.


‘What’s with the angry face mummy? it wasn’t me’

Although at least twice on that particular holiday Master ATWWAH got the better of me when we were having a post lunch wander while Mr ATWWAH stayed to pay the bill or finish his drink.  Again, in Venice, maybe it is Venice actually, he ran off into a crowd of tourists outside a museum.  He was trying to get to a big glass sculpture outside the museum which didn’t really have toddler proof protection around it.  I ran after him and picked him up but then ensued one of those embarrassing struggles only a parent can fully sympathise with, a bit like wrestling a hungry tiger cub.  I was trying to talk to him saying ‘we need to go and find daddy as he’ll lose us and we don’t want to lose him’ as Master ATWWAH was struggling even more, screaming ‘no, get off, my daddy, my daddy’

The tourists were all staring at this little toddler, screaming for his daddy, who was being carried like a rugby ball by a lady trying to be all smiley and friendly whilst avoiding being kicked in the stomach and I’m sure some of them thought I was trying to snatch him.  We don’t look that similar, unlike him and his dad, so I get to run the risk of a well meaning stranger intercepting us.  We reached Mr ATWWAH looking a bit bemused as I plonked our son down and declared he was now in charge of escape missions as at least they looked like they were related.

Please tell me it’s not just us who go through these toddler tantrum incidents on holiday.


  1. Great piece – brought back so many memories. I once lost Malvika in the T3 Duty free shop at Heathrow. If looks could kill..And that was the security guard glaring me down for being a useless mother. Didn’t help that I had 2 bottles of whisky swinging from the trolley.

  2. I have a sneaking suspicion we’re just venturing into tantrum territory so it’ll be interesting to see what the next trips hold – I think you’ve got a good point about routine, as ours always gets a bit more flexible when we travel (through necessity as much as anything else!)

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