Want to watch a 16-year-old go from Jekyll to Hyde in 15 seconds? Take their phone away. You might have to use a crowbar to pry it from their kung fu grip. But once you have it—metamorphosis, commence.
I know this because I’ve seen it happen, firsthand. It’s a pretty Oscar-worthy performance, really. The sobbing and whatnot. Empirical evidence of the similarity between toddlers and teens. Oh sure, there is a big age gap, but when you really boil it down they are more alike than not. Not sure about this? Go take a toy from a toddler. Tiny Hyde unleashed.
I have five kids, whose ages range from 2 to 19. (Yes, I said five. And yes, I do have hobbies aside from procreating.) The similarities between teens and toddlers don’t stop at the phone tantrum.
My 15-year-old son’s bedroom looks like Old Navy vomited all over it. And Big 5. And the library. And probably the grocery store and/or garbage truck for good measure. It’s not wooden blocks or Legos, but stepping on a golf tee is almost equally torturous.
My 2-year-old is still learning to use the potty. As it turns out, my 15-year-old is ALSO still learning to use the potty. I’ll spare you the urinary details (it’s on the toilet). My solution to this? Keep a constant supply of disinfecting wipes on the counter. Not under—on. Wipes under the counter will be forgotten. Trust me on this one.
Their Need for Praise
My 19-year-old daughter doesn’t even live here anymore. But I’ll be good gosh darned if she isn’t still seeking praise. “LOOK AT ME MOM. I’m doing a thing.” Any thing. All kids like praise. When my toddler actually puts his toys away, in the right box even, suddenly I’m trying out for the cheerleading squad. Turns out teenagers respond to praise in the same way. Want your 16-year-old to take out the trash? Grab your pompons and gimme a T.
Their Response to Punishment
You’ve heard of Shamu, the killer whale? (I don’t like Sea World either, but bear with me, it’s an analogy.) As it turns out, the best way to train a whale is to reward it. No, bonking it on the nose will not work. In fact it might actually turn you into a whale snack. It’s been my experience that teenagers (and toddlers—weird ) respond quite eagerly to fish heads too! (No wait, not fish heads, that’s gross. But it’s an analogy.) That’s not to say punishment doesn’t work, but you know what works better? Yeah. It’s the pompom thing again.
Their Pickiness About Food
My 2-year-old does not like broccoli (read: hates). He likes the idea of broccoli. It is a tiny tree, after all. My 16-year-old likewise does not like broccoli (read also: hates). He has also stopped thinking it’s cute when I try to fly it into his mouth like an airplane. They both like Doritos. And cake. But then who doesn’t, I suppose?
Parenting teens may feel a little daunting at times. Do not despair. You already have a wealth of experience. Remember, you’ve done this before.