Dramatic displays, huffs, tears, demands, vehement denials, insisting that they are right…am I talking about a toddler or a teenager? You really aren’t sure, are you? There is a reason for that. Despite the difference in size, these two age groups share more similarities than you would think! Taking a toy away from a toddler results in the same behavior as taking a cell phone from a teenager. You have officially become the world’s cruelest parent and must suffer the repercussions. Both age groups have a fierce desire for independence, which is undermined by a miasma of wild mood swings.
Years may have passed since your child’s noteworthy “terrible twos,” so it is safe to assume the worst is over, and you become lulled into a false sense of security. Parents, heed these words and do not waver your constant vigilance, because you are being subjected to the world’s cruelest trick! Your self-sufficient offspring will, at some point in their age of teendom, become as irrational and overwrought as they were as tots…except now they have a larger vocabulary and much more about which to complain.
Why must we endure this all over again? There is actually a scientific reason behind it (so you must not assume that you are being punished for known or unknown misdeeds). The human brain continues to develop into a person’s twenties, constantly evolving and changing. Hormone levels are peaking, both at the toddler age and the teenage years. Interestingly enough, the last part of the brain to develop is the part that deals with judgment and impulse control. This is why your teen may leap from laughter to tears, from joking to anger, all in a matter of seconds. They should be forced to wear sandwich boards with warnings. “Proceed with caution! Brain not fully developed! Parent is not responsible for outbursts!”
One other thing to bear in mind is that, while a toddler is familiar with his or her parent, a teenager knows you far better. They have time on their side. They have spent years with you and know just what makes you tick, as well as what buttons to push. This is why the good Lord made Trader Joe’s and the ABC store. They will test your limits to see how far they can go before you snap. Every parenting book you can find will tell you that both ages crave structure…and they do…yet they will fight it tooth and nail!
Interestingly enough, both stages in your child’s life have yet another aspect in common, and that is their sense of identity. A toddler is slowly discovering who he or she is as a little person, with decided opinions and needs. A teenager does the same thing, on a slightly deeper level. Teenagers are at the genesis of adult awakening, and struggling to find their place in the world. This time is likely more frightening and difficult for the teens. Toddlers always have the adults in their lives to fall back on and take care of their every need. Teenagers are aware of the fact that, at some point, they will need to make it on their own, which is something they have yet to face.
So remember when those times come that send you into deep prayer (and possibly wine) to pull on every ounce of patience you have. You are helping a real human being to form, and they are not only watching all you do, they truly need you. In fact, these toddlers and teens need you far more than they know! They need to feel safe and secure in your unconditional love, no matter how much they test you and work on your every nerve! Once those brains reach the fully developed stage, they will thank you and regret every gray hair they put upon your head…and then you can milk it for all it is worth!