Toddler "Princess" Reactions

Updated on April 25, 2011
J.R. asks from Portland, OR
16 answers

My two year old daughter has pretty strong reactions to getting "yucky" while eating. If she gets yogurt on her finger, she can't eat another bite until it's cleaned off. Same thing for mayo from a sandwich or if some of her cereal drops on her chair in front of her. She just wines and sticks her hand out at me until I clean it up. I've been giving the cue "yucky" to her, and telling her to ask for a napkin to "clean up", but it all seems a bit "princess"y to me. I expect her to get messy when she eats. This melt down in the face of food mess gets under my skin a little. Is this just a phase or do you mamas have any suggestions for different cues?

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answers from Chicago on

As soon as my son gets dirty at the table (he is 2) he tells me about his "big mess" but it's not so big. I'll help him with a napkin and show him how to do it himself and let him know well clean up with soap and water after he's done eating. I think it's just a phase. I wouldn't want sticky food all over me either.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My 2 year old daughter will ask or reach for a napkin or wipe if she is too sticky. My son on the other hand loves messes and will jump in every mud puddle if I let him. Some kids are more sensitive to it than others.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Portland on

This isn't 'princessy'. (unless you are letting her watch obnoxious picky princess videos, ha ha.) This is likely a sensory issue. I see this A LOT with my preschool group. I've had preschoolers which started with me who were so upset with even touching soap and wouldn't wash their hands, simply because of the texture. I have children who hate the feel of glue or paint and simply *don't* want it on their hands, so much so that they shy away from really enjoying art. The point to say, it's likely not an affectation. Some kids grow out of it sooner than others; and we all know a few adults who we'd describe as fastidious.

Here's the rub: you expect her to get messy, and she doesn't want to. So, offer her a warm, wet washcloth or a napkin at the table for her to wipe her fingers on . Teach her this aspect of self-care. She's two, so try to ignore the whining (you said she's signing, which I'm assuming means preverbal, so the whining is a distress signal) and focus on the actions; give her language "wipe hands" when you do this, so she can receive this verbal cue from you later.

Once you can see that she knows how to wipe her hands, just remind her. You'll have to do it *with* her for a while, and then, pantomime or grab your own cloth and do a little parallel play: show her how you wipe your own hands. This means that she's more likely to copy you, and continue to learn this new indendent skill.

And yes, it does get annoying at times, so try to take a few breaths and not get upset. I've been there and done that, many times!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

My son's ADHD... which means he has sensory issues.

It took me YEARS to condition him to getting dirty (he hated the feel of grass more than anything, but absolutely *anything* that was associated with getting "dirty" drove him nuts.

Of course, now at age 8, he's somehow perpetually in need of a bath (sigh... HOW do little boys climb into the shower, get completely clean, and then need to get back in before they've even got clothes on???).

I agree with Hazel; self care is pretty huge. For the food... a wet wash cloth rolled up on a tray/plate to be able to wipe her own hands/mouth is pretty paramount. I could SHOOT my mother (aaaargh) for instilling wiping hands on pants (she doesn't even use napkins) because of the SHEER number of things that get wiped on clothes now (don't get me wrong, I love my mother dearly, but this is a habit so ground in that 4 years of combatting it has seen very little headway).

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Just stay calm and tell her, "Oops! Here's a napkin. Let's wipe your hands." My older daughter has always been fastidious. The good thing about that is that I have never been embarrassed to have her eat with us in public. It was very easy to teach her good table manners! ;)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I've always been that way. To this day, I can't stand food on my hands. We all have our little quirks, even kids. Just indulge her on this one!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Some kids just do that. Some could wallow in their own filth for weeks and be perfectly happy. Some get a tiny speck of anything on them and freak out. Just keep acting like it's no big deal, and teach her how to clean up. It'll take a while, but it'll help.

Just FYI, I'm a very "low drama" kind of person. Well, my daughter is proof that God really does have a sense of humor. She is high maintenance, high drama, "Mommy, I wanna be a beautiful ballerina" (a.k.a. she wants to wear a skirt at all times) kind of girl. Some girls are just super girly, no-mess girls. It's best to accept it early and retain as much of your sanity as possible. LOL

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Its a phase, and I will gladly switch you kids for a couple days. I have to break out a broom and mop everytime my 2 y/o eats. Hes such a slob!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Nashville on

I have a friend whose son used to do that. He couldn't even use the same napkin twice! He hated for any food to be on his placemat, etc So I am not sure it is princessy as much as it is just annoying. he turned out normal though! :o)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I deliberately get the goo on my own hands & let the child help clean me! By talking thru the process, you can eliminate some of the drama.....& kids just plain like to help!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

It is a form of OCD. Put out playdough, get some clay and cover your floors with newspapers while she gets legitimately dirty. It's a touch thing she has. These messy slimy foods don't feel right to her. Get her used to playing in water and sand too. It all helps reduce the feeling she has about being messy.
Lots of praise over the playdough creations and no complaints about how much she has spilled or dropped on the newspaper and table top.
Make your own playdough with her after she has grown to like it. The process is messy and a bit slimy and she'll accustom herself to it feeling okay.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

This is in the normal range. Obnoxious side of normal.

Some children just really do not like the feel of certain textures on their hands, sometimes faces too. They do not like feeling messy.

Just teach her the words, ask her "wipe my hand please?" Then hand her a napkin. Once you finish wiping answer "Thank you".

She will then learn how to ask using these words, instead of the grunting, demanding sounds.

Eventually it gets better. Just breath,.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Redding on

my son is like this and I don't think he is a princess! :) Some kids are just extea clean. As long as it doesn't begin to "interfere" with the daily routine, she should be fine. She may or may not grow out of it. I know that I use probably 10 times the "normal" amount of napkins when eating also....



answers from Corvallis on

My daughter did the exact same thing when she was 2 and it has gotten better over time. My daugher overall is someone who likes things in order and has never liked her hands to feel messy of sticky. Some kids are just more sensitive to this than others. In my eyes it isn't a princessy thing at all it's completely normal behavior.



answers from Portland on

I have a 3 yr old son who is the same way. He can't even get water on his shirt without having to change it. It makes me a bit crazy, but I am glad he isn't getting food and mess all over our house. I have to say that he has eased up a bit as he has gotten older. Hoping yours will do the same. My hubby is a bit anal himself, so I chalk it up to genetics!



answers from Minneapolis on

I think that at 2 this is normal. Try and get her to use her napkin and be patient. Hopefully, it will pass soon.
If on the other hand, this continues and it moves on to other things such dirt, water, paint etc and it keeps her from enjoying life I would have her checked for a sensory disorder of some sorts.
But, for now I think its totally normal and not all that princess'y. HTH!

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