Teenagers and toddlers.
I was chatting with another mummy at a birthday party today and we were comparing stories about our children. I was saying how my little miss is pushing boundaries like there is no tomorrow (hello tantrums ) whilst she was talking about her teenagers.
What we both found interesting was the similarities in behaviour and reactions. My stories also bought back memories for her, from when her children were younger.
I know this may sound offensive, especially if you are a teenager reading this, however similarities in back chat, attitude and general rudeness are uncanny.
During our conversation we shared many a laugh with comparing stories, yet also shared ideas on how we can deal with our situations.
Disrespectful or rude behaviour in both toddlers and teenagers is pretty common. Although these phases do eventually pass.
Not all toddlers or teenagers are rude or disrespectful, but some disrespect is a normal part of both toddler and teenage growth and development. Otherwise known as pushing boundaries.
This is partly because your child is learning to express and test out their own independent ideas, so of course, there will be times when you disagree. Which in return may cause arguments.
You will find that having your child develop their own independence is a key part of growing up and a good sign that your child is trying to take more responsibility.
We both agreed that our children’s moods change very quickly and sometimes for no apparent reason. My two year old can throw a tantrum over me giving her the wrong plate colour at dinner time whereas my mummy friend said her teenager can throw a tantrum with yelling, slamming doors, ignoring her wishes or grunting at her when she has asked for a simple task to be done.
Because of how our brains develop individually, your child isn’t always able to express their changing feelings and reactions to everyday or unexpected things. This can also lead to over-sensitivity, and over reactions that may be seen as grumpiness or rudeness.
Sometimes disrespectful behaviour might also be a sign that your child is feeling particularly stressed, anxious or worried.
As a parent, you might feel hurt, worried and unsure about why this behaviour is happening. Your child used to value your interest or input and perhaps be ‘closer’ with you, but now it seems that even simple conversations with them can turn into an argument. My toddler most definitely hates when I suggest she do something different to what she wants. According to my friend, her teenager has similar reactions when she asks them to make their bed or put their used plate in the dishwasher. My miss, will proceed to tell me ‘no, I not, I no likey you’ whereas her teenager grunt and moans at her over a similar request.
What we must remember though is that both toddlers and teenagers are trying to express themselves. Toddlers generally struggle with words or expressing themselves verbally whilst teenagers struggle with feelings and emotions. Toddlers throw tantrums when they feel frustrated whereas teenagers may feel unheard therefore they shut down and this behaviour can be mistaken for rudeness or disrespect.
Around the age of 13 a child’s brain start to think in a deeper way than it did a few years earlier, they can have thoughts and feelings they’ve never had before which they may struggle with accepting, while some young people seem to burst into the world with a conflicting and radical view on everything. This shift to deeper thinking is a normal part of brain development. As with most things, people will always deal with things differently.
What we both conceded was in both our situations, mine with my bossy, Indepandant, argumentative toddler and her with her rude, abrupt and disrespectful teenager is that if we staied calm during these outbursts the situation was fused quickly.
It is important if your child reacts with ‘attitude’ to a discussion that you stop, take a deep breath, and continue calmly with what you wanted to say. By reacting with aggression or similar attitude, you may find that it escalates the situation. It can also confuse the child as to what behaviour is actually acceptable. If your irrational or aggressive, your child may think this behaviour is acceptable and behaviour in a similar situation.
In a difficult situation try to use light humour. A shared laugh can break a stalemate, bring a new perspective or lighten the mood and tone of a conversation. Being a lighthearted parent can also help take the heat out of a situation – but avoid mocking, ridiculing or being sarcastic. I find that with my kids, if she is in the thick of a tantrum, if I walk away she may escalate or if I change the subject and perhaps put her favourite show on TV it may diffuse her. Whereas my friend said that by Ignoring her teenagers shrugs, rolling eyes and bored looks it also diffuses the situation, but if she demands an apology for the ‘attitude’, it can be like adding petrol to a fire.
During these power struggles with your child, If you are feeling angry or frustrated try not to take it out on your child. They don’t understand what they are feeling and are most likely struggling with your emotions also. What we need to do as a parent is to teach the child, be it a toddler or teenager that their behaviour is not appropriate or acceptable. If you become defensive or agitated your child will then most likely react in a similar way.
Try not to take things that your toddler or teenager say personally. It might help to remind yourself that your child is trying to assert their own independence.
Even though you have more life experience than your child, lecturing them about how to behave is likely to have them stop listening to you. If you want your child to listen to you, you might need to allow them to speak freely to you also. Communication goes both ways and the child needs to feel respected in order to feel valid. Much like nagging, this is not likely to have a positive effect. It might increase your frustration, and your child will probably just scream at you or switch off. As with sarcasm your child may start to resent you and as a parent, I know that I do not want that type of relationship with my children.
Speaking with this other mummy today has made me feel like this ‘terrible two’ situation is easy in comparison to her ‘terrible teenager’. My eldest is only 4 but rest assured I’m planning on putting boundaries in place in hope that he won’t behave irrationally during his teenage years.
What are you experience’s of toddlers and teenagers?
Did or do you have a similar experience?
I’d love to hear from you.