Not too long ago I taught classrooms full of teenagers. Now I’m entertaining toddlers both at home and I’ve come to realize that the two groups really aren’t that different. Actually, there are quite a few ways in which teenagers are exactly like toddlers.
7 Ways Teenagers are Like Toddlers
1. They get hangry.
Ask a two-year-old to go an hour without eating and ooh girl, you’ll wish you hadn’t. There will be one hangry little toddler plastered to your ceiling before you can say fishy crackers. Similarly, teenagers don’t do well under starvation. Symptoms of a hangry teenager include irritability, scowl face, and sudden snarkiness.
2. They want independence.
The reason my three-year-old shows up to preschool wearing a backwards Mickey Mouse t-shirt and snow pants is because he, “wanted to do it myself.”
When I was a new 15-year-old driver, I wound up in the neighbor’s ditch with fragments of his busted-up fence sprinkling the hood of my car because I insisted on, “doing it myself.”
3. They’ll try to bargain with you.
Just fifteen more minutes…okay, twelve…fine, 10 more minutes and then I’ll go to bed. Even the most masterful negotiators have got nothin’ over my toddler. He aims his big, glistening eyes up at me and I cave every single time. The FBI could take tips from a few toddlers I know.
And you wouldn’t believe the types of bargaining stunts teenagers will try to pull on you. I once had an entire class of sixteen-year-olds promise to hand wash my car if I would postpone a vocabulary test.
4. They throw tantrums.
Witnessing a toddler tantrum is like watching a baked potato explode in the oven. One minute everything’s fine and the next…BOOM! You’re dealing with the aftermath for an hour. As each of my four kids have traversed the toddler phase, I’ve seen some nasty meltdowns over the color of a sucker, having to wear underwear, and the fact that it was Tuesday.
Teenage tantrums are no tossed salad either. They’re like a toddler tantrum’s bully big brother. I recall (with chagrin) my teen years involving some fierce shouting matches that left me red in the face and sobbing into my pillow. The reasons get more mature, but the reactions sure don’t.
5. You give them an inch…
Testing limits is what kids do, and from toddlers to teenagers, that doesn’t change much. My toddler will look at me, pick up a block he is playing with, deliberately chuck it across the room, and look back to see my reaction.
You bet a teenager with a midnight curfew will test the ice of parental resolve by showing up at 12:01. I wouldn’t know from any type of personal experience of course, this is a purely hypothetical example. Nothing to see here folks.
6. They’re always looking for a snack.
If you suspect a tapeworm to blame for all the constant noshing your toddler does, just wait until he becomes a teenager. As a parent I’m always packing heat—applesauce pouches in my purse, granola bars in the car console, fruit snacks in my coat pockets.
It never ceased to amaze me how much my teenage brothers ate growing up. All the time. One step into their shared bedroom and you’d find a plate with petrified burrito spillage sitting on the night stand, an empty chocolate milk carton on the dresser, and the same fruit snack wrappers littering the floor that my mom’s been buying since we were kids. It all comes full circle.
7. They rely on grunts to communicate, which basically makes them cavemen.
Why speak when it’s much easier to grunt? Because words have too many syllables and sentences are far too much work. A toddler who grunts and points her needs is the same as a teenager who grunts her responses.
“Guhh…” What’s that? Oh, you want a soppy cup?
“Ugh…” Come again? Was that a yes, you did your homework?
Who knows, maybe we never fully outgrow our toddler phase. And as long as we’re not eating crayons and wiping boogers on the wall, then civilization has a chance.