Three Ways Toddlers Are Just Like Teens
Four-year-olds act a lot like fourteen-year-olds, so if you’re struggling with the preschool years, consider it valuable training for the future. Toddlers and teenagers are undergoing major developmental changes, which leaves them in a similar temperament despite being so many years apart. This article will dive into the similarities between teens and toddlers so you know what behaviors you might revisit a decade down the line.
They Are the Center of the Universe
It’s true, both teens and toddlers feel like the world revolves around them. This can be challenging for a parent because you’ll probably meet resistance when you try to give them advice. Teens and toddlers tend to have this, “I can do it all by myself!” attitude. It gets really tricky when you’re trying to help your child face a brand-new situation and they tell you, “I already know how to do that.”
It’s snarky, it’s annoying, but it’s part of their development. Children at these critical ages have a deep desire to fend for themselves because they want to become more independent. For teens and toddlers alike, it can be helpful to let them be overconfident and make their own mistakes because I promise they will learn from their errors.
Their Emotions Run Rampant
If you’re the parent of a toddler or a teen, you know just how emotional your child gets on a daily basis. Not only do they take everything to heart, but they experience wild mood swings as well. Losing a favorite toy or getting a bad grade on a test feel totally catastrophic, and parents have to put in overtime to help them manage their feelings. Teens and toddlers require a lot of reassurance from others, whether its plenty of hugs or approval from peers. Either way, these are times when your child will feel the most fragile.
One massive benefit of being so emotionally-charged is that teens and toddlers are extremely empathetic. They are the first ones to notice when you’re feeling down, and have a strong willingness to connect. At these ages, your child will be there for you as much as you need to be there for them.
They Push the Limits
Teens and toddlers seem to have little regard for the rules because they are so ready to push the limits. It might be staying up late an extra hour, or taking dessert before dinner, or playing somewhere you specifically forbade them from playing in. They will find a way to stretch the rules and go beyond.
At these ages of development, decision-making is inhibited as toddlers and teens fail to think through the options and outcomes of their choices. This can lead to impulsive behavior as well as risky behavior. For example, teens might make the decision to try drugs and alcohol, while toddlers challenge themselves to race to the top of the play structure with their eyes closed. One thing is for certain, teens and toddlers like to push the limits and take risks. As a parent, it might be helpful if you tell your child some fun alternatives to their risky behavior, so they can consider a better option that wouldn’t normally come to them.
Kids Will be Kids
And sometimes that means they will experience the same patterns of behavior throughout their various stages of development. Whether you are the parent of a toddler, a teen, or both, recognizing these similarities will help you decide what lessons to teach throughout their lives.
Andy Earle is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers.