As a mom to three teenagers, I have found that teens are not much different than toddlers with the exception of their age and size. Many of the issues your toddler faces will return with a vengeance more than a decade later when your children become teens. Both toddlers and teens need constant attention and redirection and continually test the boundaries to see if you really mean what you say. Many parenting tips that work for one age group work for the other as well.
The most common ways that a teenager is just like a big toddler follow.
Tantrums and Volatile Emotions
Both groups have little, if any, control over their emotions. Daily life seems to be one constant roller coaster of highs and lows. Both groups sometimes share too much personal information that you might not want to hear, especially when it comes to bodily functions and the like. One moment, you are the most wonderful person in the world, and the next, your child hates you and never wants to speak to you again. When your toddler misbehaves, he’s throwing a “temper tantrum.” When your teen acts out, she’s “being assertive” and “showing independence.” The behaviors are similar, just the age differs.
An Explosion of Clothes
With your toddler, you can’t make it through a day without changing their clothes what seems like half-a-dozen times. This comes back around with your teen. Only now, the clothes are bigger, and some fear peer rejection, which plays a part in their taste of clothing. In addition, the clothes — and food! — seem to be left everywhere.
“Mommy, I’m Hungry!” Becomes “Mom, I’m Hungry”
And speaking of food, be prepared for your grocery bill to skyrocket once your kids hit double digits. Your toddler doesn’t eat the same things as your teenager, of course. He or she will only eat four things as long as none of them are green. On the other hand, your teen might insist on eating a vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free diet, depending on what’s currently fashionable. They also have the metabolism of a black hole. However, you can’t fly an airplane spoon into your teen’s mouth anymore as they will just roll their eyes at you if you try.
If messy rooms were an Olympic event, your teen would likely win a gold medal. Somehow, they manage to take it to a whole new level beyond the toddler years. Instead of toys left all over the place, the mess now includes: clothes, food wrappers, homework, make-up and/or video-game-related items they keep claiming they’ll put away in “just a sec.” Somehow, they leave their stuff everywhere besides their rooms. All that really changes over the years is the type of stuff.
Toddlers grow at a rapid rate and constantly outgrow their clothes and shoes. You also paid for all kinds of enriching activities you provide them, such as soccer, indoor playgrounds and other forms of stimulation. If possible, your teens costs even more money — their clothes, school fees, book fees, and costs for sports. Don’t forget they need spending cash to buy even more stuff! Toddlers and teens alike, money seems to evaporate around them.
Praise and Positive Reinforcement
True, most kids like praise. Teens seem to respond to praise in the same way as a toddler, and both believe they should be cheered on for doing every little thing, including their chores, correctly. Your daughter wants you to praise her for putting away her toys, and your teenager wants praise for taking out the trash.
No matter the phase your child is going through, it won’t last forever. Enjoy it while it lasts!