I am fairly certain that parents who have toddlers frequently wonder what happen to their cute little bundle. Well, hold on to your knickers my lovelies!! This is going to be a wild ride. Just when you thought the ride was peaceful and perfect, you reach the peak of the coaster to toddler land, with a swift decent to terror tunnel. It is now that you begin to realize that there is a significant drop about to make your belly reel with uncertainty.
That’s right, toddler terror! It is no myth that toddlers will push you to your breaking point, but they are just a precursor into the life with a teenager. So, as you take that drop, loopty loop, and head for toddler tunnel, understand there is so much more on the other side. After you leave toddler tunnel you will reach the teenage tundra. Yes, this ride quickly will get cold and closed off. Prepare yourselves for the cold shoulder twist, slamming door drop, and the hard breaking jolt, that will stop you in your tracks. Hold tight to that shoulder harness because, this is going to be the ride of your life, welcoming you to Toddler Teen Town.
All the ways that toddlers are just miniature teenagers:
1. The Love Hate Relationship
Toddlers and teens are synonymous. The sooner you understand this the easier your child rearing will be as your kiddos age. The love hate relationship is easily the most prevalent of toddler and teen characteristics. Toddlers have this wonderful way of showing you love with cuddles and snuggles, but boy-oh-boy when they get frustrated you would almost swear dark forces entered your child. How can one little human be so ecstatic about mac-n-cheese and in the next instant be livid about the fact that you placed it in front of them? The simple answer is because, they can. It just so happens that your little human has a fondness towards changing his/her mind within seconds. Perhaps, the idea of mac-n-cheese sounded blissful, right up until you placed them at the table, or in the highchair. We refer to this as toddler prison.
If you gave your toddler a bowl of mac-n-cheese, then provided the little one with a spoon, allowing them free reign of the house… Okay, we can end that nightmare right now. Imagine the fun involved when your floors, walls, furniture, and of course, the baby, take on cheesy hues of yellow. Well, maybe not fun for you, but your little one would have a keen time.
How is a teen the same you wonder? A teen may have the same thought when you offer up a large pizza. This is an extremely exciting teen treat, but tell this teen he/she has to eat it at the table, and all attitude will break loose. Teenagers want privacy and a little piece of adulting, without the painstaking bill paying and daily work grind, of course. A teen would love nothing more than to highjack the pizza you have presented and take it to his/her bedroom, slamming the door in your face. You can well assume that your teen will become an artisan of pizza sauce, adorning your carpet and his/her clothing with hues of crimson.
There will never be gratitude without attitude. Be prepared young parents, this cycle just gets more intense as time goes on. You will receive few thank you moments for the mac-n-cheese or pizza without the selfish tantrum to follow. Expect a tantrum to ensue should you enforce the dinner table (A.K.A the prison cell).
2. Inept listening skills
Let me just toss this out there in the toddlerteeniverse, hearing is different than listening. Your child, albeit deriving from an intelligent species, will lack any and all ability to have an inherent brain cell in their heads. “Yes, I hear you.” This will always be separate from listening to you. Hearing the noise perpetuating their ears, is not the same as listening to what you have to say.
If you tell your toddler to stop jumping on the bed you might sound like this; “Stop jumping on the bed!” Why is this not effective? This is a passive aggressive way of communicating your concerns. However, if you ask, “Why do we not jump on the bed?” Then, your little tike has to problem solve this riddle for him or herself. This resonates with your teen as well. If you say to your teen, “I don’t want you playing video games all night,” what do you think the response will be? More than likely, your teen will appease you with a relative response like an okay or alright. A more appropriate way to communicate that video games are off limits, would be to ask them to respond to you. “Why are you not allowed to play video games for the rest of the evening?”
These are the rules of toddlerteen engagement my lovelies. Stop telling and start asking. You will receive less hearing and begin seeing an adept skill set for listening. The added bonus will surely be effective problem solving and deductive reasoning. Be prepared for hostage negotiations though. “Hey, mom/dad if I do all of my homework now, can I have my friend stay over longer. Maybe, if I finish my homework early my friend can stay for dinner?” You can’t be too upset because, at least you know they are listening, but be ready for negotiations and hostile takeovers.
3. Can’t follow the simplest directions
Do you ever become easily irritated with your toddler when you damn well know that they understand you? You tell this little person to pick up his/her toy off the ground, and they look at you like they suddenly don’t speak their primary language. Not to worry, history will repeat itself in five to ten years. Toddlers versus teens on directions… HAHA! No competition. This is a lateral and level playing field. “Mommy needs you to pick up that toy now, please.” This should sound familiar to those of you with toddlers. “You had better have your room clean when I get home from work today.” This should sound familiar to those of you who have or had teens.
You head for the kitchen to prepare lunch and turn to see your toddler bouncing around to the newest song on his/her television show. Meanwhile, the toy is still chillin on the floor, right where it was when you asked your child to pick it up. What do you do? You repeat yourself, of course, duh. Where does that get you? Nowhere quick. We, the grandfolk, call this telling not showing. Your child will deliberately ignore your request because, to a toddler, that is all you did. Requesting falls in line with telling. Showing, then wait for your child to follow suit, is the best way to get anything accomplished.
Teens are no different. Telling them to clean their room without showing specific instruction will also get you a closet full of crap. A child’s clean is always going to be different than your clean. This definitely goes for your toddler too. His/her picking up the toy may be just that, picking it up and setting it down. The toddler has no idea what to do after picking the toy up. If you tell your teen to clean his/her room and you come home to everything pushed into the closet, then you should consider where to place the blame. Show your teen what clean means by helping them. Following directions will always be simple for your kids. Their little brains are not fully developed enough to understand what you consider to be common sense. After all, didn’t someone have to show you detail?
4. Deliberately ignores you
Okay, there will be times that it is not a matter of listening or following direction. There are going to be moments in your little brat’s life, where being a turd is common practice. Your toddler will surely test you. Their bubble world, as I like to call it, is much smaller than yours. Your world exists in a much grander scheme, where theirs is subject to the latest and greatest new toddler show, or for your teen, it is who the cutest boy or girl in second period.
Sometimes their brains cut off all reality and delve into the fantasy world, where your voice has been amply drowned out by dreams of grandeur. They can’t help it, so try placing yourself in front of said dreamer. Nothing will snap you out of a fantasy world quicker than a parental unit in your face. Ignoring you is part of the deal, kids will do this, but how you handle it is key. Don’t get upset, just get in the bubble and pop it a bit. HEHE!!
5. Throws a temper tantrum
Be prepared for the tantrums. I enjoy a good toddler tantrum story, they make me snicker. The grandfolk will always giggle at your frustration over the newest rendition of toddler terror. Know, however, that our amusement comes from knowing that you haven’t seen anything yet my lovelies!! Just wait for the good stuff. Teen Land is the best place to find the most refined tantrums, laced with manipulation, and charged with guilt.
Toddlers drop down on the floor, kick their legs, scream and cry alligator tears over their aggravations, while teens, slam doors, shout obscenities, and throw inanimate objects at your walls. What is the difference you ask? Nothing, other than the fact that your teen has a wide range of colorful vocabulary and you can always count on the venom permeating through it. Your toddler manipulates through making you feel guilty and sad that he/she seems sad. Your teen will manipulate you with words of doom, and attempt to guilt you into feeling like a lousy parent. Stick to your guns and break that toddler/teen will. Breaking them down to cope with their emotions is okay. It will allow you to build them up and afford a radiation of confidence. What do I mean? Well, let me share.
Your toddler or teen is throwing a tantrum, your first response may be to punish your kiddo. Do not bother with the negative attention. It is futile and completely useless. Your child is seeking attention and by giving it, you just created a monster. Prepare the fun house of mirrors my friends. You are going to see the many sides and shapes of your child if you continue this pattern. Instead of yelling, throwing your toddler in a time out, or grounding you teen, try walking away and letting them have at it. It will eventually stop. Yes, that’s right, I said ignore it and walk away. Simply say,” When you are done we will talk about it.”
What you should focus on is the good behavior. This take minutes, and sometimes seconds out of your day. Yes, we expect our teens to brush their teeth in the morning, but a little praise for being on time and ready for school goes a long way. Not telling him/her that their hair is still a mess, but that you are glad that he/she is dressed and ready to go on time promotes healthy engagement. This also sets the tone for the rest of their day. Find projects to involve your children with. This helps build confidence. If you begin applying the will breaking, followed by confidence building, you will see a change in your child as well as yourself.
6. Love you when it suits them
Have you ever heard someone tell you to snuggle your kids while they still love you? That is because, we are not meant to be their friends, and we are here to parent. Parenting will not always be welcomed, and in more ways and times than not. It is human nature to be ego-centric. Your children are no different than anyone else living and breathing. Of course, your kids will love you when you give them everything they want, or allow them to do whatever they like when it is good for them. The problem is that they do not have the built in wisdom that comes from your experience, any more than you had when you were their age.
Toddlers and teens will always get upset with you when they don’t get their way, they just react in different ways. Your toddler will pout, cross their arms huffing and puffing, stomping away from you, all the while slapping your outreached and loving hands away. Your teen will proceed with caution, giving you the silent treatment, rolling their eyes, and pretending like you potentially carry an infectious disease.
While you go through these ups and downs of parenting, remember that your kids do love you, they just don’t like that you are setting boundaries. Kids thrive on guidelines and structure, but they have no idea that they do, or that they need it. It will always be easier to dislike you for a moment in time, than to admit this little tidbit. So, yes, take all the snuggles you can get, while the cuddles and snuggles are given because, the tunnel of love and admiration is a short ride. You can get right back on the ride, but it will always be short lived for toddlers and teens.
7. Gets easily frustrated with life
So, about that bubble of theirs, it’s a very real thing. Slow down and remember, that although your world is wide open and your bubble burst years ago, that they still live in theirs. Why do toddlers get frustrated when they can’t stack the building blocks? Simple, they have seen it done and they want to accomplish it. Your teen will be no different. Why does your teen get frustrated when their best friend is now in a relationship with his/her crush? Again, this is simple. He/she has seen a happy ending for other teens, observing the pair coming together in a delightful relationship. Everyone wants what they perceive to be something they can have or do, becoming equally irritated when it does not come into fruition. You have to bring yourself back to what your toddler or teen may visualize as a big deal. It is a very exciting time when your toddler learns how to build and stack blocks without help, and more importantly, without adversity. Your teen’s bubble is a bit bigger now, and a lot more emotional. Put yourself back in the teen spotlight. Try to recall how it felt, share some stories, and take a few minutes away from your busy life to relate.
8. Blames you for everything
Deflecting and projecting is what toddlers and teens do best. If your little person is having a rough day it is more than likely your fault. Get over it and stop taking it personal. They need someone to blame, don’t they? Kids this age have no clue how to take personal accountability. The best way to teach them is to begin with putting your inculpate accusatory pointy finger back in your pocket.
This is a great time to spark a conversation about actions and consequences. Even a toddler can understand you when you ask, “What should we do about the crayon on the wall?” Show your toddler how to clean it and make them do it. Your toddler will always remember what consequence drawing on the walls will carry. Your teen will blame you for holding them back and ruining their teenage reputation, but when you hold them accountable for their actions, even when your teen points out how their actions were your fault, he/she will not likely do it again. Always be prepared for the backlash and rebellion, providing a soft reminder of what consequences there will be for that as well.
You cannot expect that your toddlers will grow into teens that can understand personal accountability if you do not begin the process now.
Warning: it will still be your fault at some point. Get over it, move on, and allow them to fall every once in a while. Tough love will be perpetual.
There are some positive aspects to this thrill ride. Saddle up adventure seekers, the outcome will be excitement and a fulfilling journey through an amazing theme park. Let us take a moment to decipher why most folks decide to go to an adventure theme park in the first place. Of course, it is a great pass times for all ages, well at least until you get the rickets. Yes, we all get a bit rickety eventually. This is why grandparenting is so much fun. We get all the thrills without the ride. We watch you go on the ride and scream your frightened little heads off as we giggle. “Better you than me,” we say. So, what makes the ride and park so attractive?
Let’s count the ways…
1. Molding little people into amazingly flawed adults.
Watching your toddler learn the alphabet is especially thrilling when they go to kindergarten knowing how to read. This little person might have a tough time with pronunciation, but watching them grow with flaws is the best ride yet. Teens are no different. Watching your teen head off to high school on the first day is nerve racking. You watch your awkward teen leave the car without your protection, knowing that kids can be cruel, and you hope that the day goes well. Your teen might not have the best hairstyle, clothing choice, or social ability, but hearing about their first day when they come home is a new adventure for you to mold.
2. Memorable milestones
As parents, we live for the milestones. Your toddler learning to toddle, your teen learning how to drive, and all the while you remembering every step that got you to this point. Milestones are memories engrained in our psyche that make every parenting malfunction, tribulation, and persecution worth it all. Hold on to these moments, as the will carry you through all of the rough patches.
3. Rewarding triumph when your little tikes succeed.
Parenting is full of groundings, time-outs, and punishment. This is the grind of parenting, but what about the rewards? Who says that rewarding your kids is not a reward for you too? I have never known a toddler or a teen to turn down a trip to the ice cream parlor, have you? Always choose a reward you will both enjoy. It will set you up for a bonding experience you and your child might need.
4. Overcoming adversity and challenges
You might be asking yourself why this is a positive portion of parenting. I will leave you with an uncomplicated version of the why. When your children can finally overcome adversity and challenges without you, then you know you set them up for success. When your toddler realizes he/she can use the potty without your assistance, or your teen got his/her first job without asking you to help, these will be the days of pride and parenting accomplishment. Nothing feels better than the knowledge that your kiddo has become an independent thinker.
5. Bragging rights
This one speaks for itself. I mean, who wouldn’t want bragging rights for how well their kids turned out?
6. Life altering experience
Going through this adventure called parenting, is the most life altering experience I have ever encountered. Watching my children become who they are in their adult lives has changed me in ways I never believed possible. Rearing my children up in my likeness, caused me to become someone I had to be for them. Setting the example is important to both you and your children. I grew in strength, where frailty did not have a place in my life. Toddlers look up to the big person in their lives because, they trust, value, and need you. Teens, although they would deny this, do too.
Your children will give you a reason to become a better version of yourself. Actions speak louder than words and your children will become receptive to this. Do as I say and not as I do, does not work. So, you put your big person pants on and suck it up. Time to change, time to grow, and time to make life matter. How do you show your toddler that coping mechanisms are necessary? The same way you show your teenager. You cope. You live your best responsible and accountable life possible, and you teach them the way.
Wisdom comes from experience, and experience comes from living. Allowing your child to venture out, make mistakes, create and follow worthwhile choices is crucial to building insight, foresight, understanding, and compassion. Allow them to create new experiences. Allow your toddler to play with worms, or run their hands through the dirt. Treat your teen like a miniature adult in training. Let your teen be in a relationship, have that first kiss, and to feel emotions strongly. These are the life lesson we cannot teach through speaking on them. Your children must experience these things, so allow it with boundaries. What comes of their exposure to life will be priceless and rewarding for you.
8. Someone to hopefully take care of you when you get older.
Alright, this one might be a little selfish, but it is the end game. Hopefully you have set your kids up for adulting success and they will become valuable citizens. When we think of all the ways our kids might have to take care of us, we immediately consider the idea of getting old and wearing diapers again. However, there is an entirely different set of hopes that should tag along. What about the ideal law abiding citizen, who makes the world we live in a better place? Adults we have shaped into people who will make a difference in one or multiple lives.
Our ultimate goal in parenting should be rearing up our kids into adults who will shape the future of societies and bring relief to their parents as they age. Perhaps, through charity, politics, or civics. These are other ways that your child might solidify your topnotch parenting skills.
Next time you think Toddler Town can’t get any more congested with unhinged lunacy, think again. Teen Metropolis is a few miles north. Parenting becomes a perfected skill with age. When in doubt ask your parents. You may not always agree with their parenting style, but neither will your children agree with yours. Take what you need from your parent’s perspective and modify it into something you can use for your kids. Toddler are just teens in training. Good luck lovelies!!!