20 Ways Teens are Just Like Toddlers

With teens, the toddler lies just beneath the surface...

by Nancy Reynolds

This Post: 20 Ways Teens are Just Like Toddlers

Written by: Morgan Hill

“Small kids, small problems. Big kids, big problems.” We’ve all heard that saying, right? But what’s not a common saying is “Same kids, same problems!”

And now, here we are… raising a much older kid who’s teetering between childhood and adulthood and the toddler in them lies just below the surface. And, crazy enough, they share many of the same behaviors. Here are a few ways teens are just like toddlers! 

20 Ways Teens are Just Like Toddlers


1. Bedtime is Still a Challenge

You used to have to coax your tiny toddler to sleep by six. A soothing bedtime routine of bath, books and lullabies often did the trick. Now your teen, who without warning turned into a night owl, would much rather play video games, text friends or scroll through TikTok videos until midnight rather than sleep. Where we were once tucking in our toddlers, our teens are now tucking us in. 

2. They Both Whine

You thought you left those days behind after surviving the exhausting “terrible twos.” But whining is, or at least seems, eternal. Where it used to be about not getting a balloon in the checkout lane, now it’s about you being “the worst parent ever” because you said “no.” Either way, it’s still just as exhausting…

3. They Both Make You Drink Wine

Whether it’s 5 o’clock somewhere or it’s just another day parenting a teenager, you deserve a glass of wine. Or two. Or three.

4. Neither One of Them Can Pee Accurately (Ahem… Boys)

After you changed their last diaper, you thought you had it made. But you horrifyingly realized that no matter how old your boy got, his aim was still just as bad. The seat is fair game, as is the floor and even the wall. Toddlers, teens and toilets – some things never change.

5. Hygiene is Still a Daily Challenge

“Wash your hands before dinner,” “Did you brush your teeth?” “You HAVE to take a bath today!” When our kids were toddlers we spent half our day teaching them personal hygiene and we’re still teaching them. “Man… you didn’t put deodorant on today, did you?” “Your feet stink SO bad… please go take a shower.” “When was the last time you brushed your teeth?” As a mom, you’re convinced you’ll be reminding your 32-year-old son to wear deodorant ‘cuz it just isn’t sinking in!

6. They Both Sleep A LOT

Ahhh… remember those afternoon naps your toddler used to take? It was your ONE break throughout the day that gave you just a hint of sanity before they woke up raring to go. Fast forward and now our teens sleep just as much (maybe more) than our toddlers did except now moving the Rock of Gibraltar seems easier than waking them from their blissful slumber.

7. They’re Still Mesmerized by Their Phone

Remember how your sweet toddler used to love their toy phone? Well… not a whole lot has changed. Only now they talk, text and scroll for hours with their real one. That’s one obsession they’re not likely to ever outgrow. 

8. They Can Both Throw a Serious Temper Tantrum (Did Someone Say MOODY?)

The total meltdown used to be over a dropped ice cream cone or when their world came crashing in because you cut their sandwich wrong. Your toddler would be cruising along happy with life when suddenly “WHAM,” a full-on temper tantrum erupted out of nowhere. Teens are the same way! Only now you’re dealing with raging hormones and a teen who’s clueless about how to deal with them. Life can be good one minute and the next they’re rolling their eyes, slamming doors, and blaming you for ruining their life. (Until, that is, they need a ride or money. Then they emerge from their room all nicey nicey.)

9. They Won’t Stop Growing

Toddlers and teens – I’ve never seen anyone grow faster! But now your teen isn’t just outgrowing their clothes every three to six months, they want the super cool, expensive, name-brand clothes all the other kids are wearing so now you’re broke to boot. From dinosaur jammies and princess dresses to name-brand hoodies and the coolest athletic shoes, your teen is still just as stubborn about what they wear as your toddler was. 

10. They Both Get “Hangry” FAST

We used to pack a diaper bag filled with Gold Fish and mini pretzels just to keep our toddlers happy when they got “hangry.” Now we’re running through Chick-fil-A buying our kids the 30-count nugget pack with extra waffle fries because their stomach is literally an endless pit. And, oh.. just like toddlers, the crumbs in the car seat!

11. They Both Think They’re Invincible

Remember when your toddler used to climb the outside of the staircase with you gasping and running to grab them before they landed on their head? Not much has changed. Only now your teen is climbing bridges, driving way too fast, and doing Evil Knievel stunts on a ramp with their bike. Hence, the reason parents of teens have wrinkles and gray hair. 

12. They’re Both Selfish

They don’t mean to be, they just are! Toddlers want what they want when they want it and, guess what? Teens are the same way! They’re at a time in their life when they’re totally self-absorbed in their life, their world, their friends, their everything. Hang on… they eventually grow out of it! 

13. They’re Both Messy

Pass our toddler a piece of chocolate cake in their highchair and they’d smother it from their head to their toes. Thankfully, our teens have learned how to eat without being total slobs, but all bets are off when it comes to their bedroom – YIKES!

14. They Both Think They Know It All

“No! I do it myself!” was your toddler’s cry for independence, whether they were putting on their shoes or opening a candy wrapper. Now, your “I got it all figured out, I don’t need you,” teen is WAY too cool to ask for help with anything and they’re not shy about telling you how clueless you are about technology. 

15. They Both Show Their Worst Side With You

Whether teen or toddler, they’ll always melt down with you because they know they can. You are their safe space, their home, their comfort – no matter what happens. (Even if your fickle teen pretends they don’t need you – you know they really do.) Whether it’s a bad day at school (preschool or high school), a fight with a friend (toddler or teen), or they’re just tired (both could probably use a nap), their worst behavior seems to be saved just for you.

16. They Both Love Blankets

When my kids were little they HAD to have their blankies with them pretty much all the time. Now that they’re 10 years older, they still snuggle up with their favorite blanket. Whether they’re on the couch watching TV or in bed Facetiming friends, they always have a “blankie” wrapped around them. 

17. You Lose Just as Much Sleep With Teens as You Do with Toddlers

Once you got through all those endless sleepless nights when your kids were toddlers, you were sure you were on the home stretch! Little did you know those sleepless nights were JUST the beginning, only now you’re losing sleep because your teen is out driving on a Friday night with friends or they’re heading to a party where you know they’ll be pressured to drink or do drugs. The worry literally ages you in dog years!

18. They Both Go Through Super Weird Phases

I remember when my son had to wear his batman cape everywhere… to preschool, to the store, to bed. He even wanted to wear it in the bathtub. He outgrew that phase, thankfully, but that was just the first of many. My teens have gone through so many weird phases – their taste in clothes, food obsessions, and even the way they wear their hair. While they’re trying to figure out who they are, I’m left trying to keep up!

19. They Both Need Unconditional Love

Our toddlers used to snuggle up in our laps, but make no mistake about it, our teens need just as much love, assurance, acceptance and snuggles. They might be bigger on the outside, but they’re still little on the inside. 

20. They Both Need Their Mama

Mama, mommy, mom, dude… mom’s name might change through the years, but she’ll always be their safe place to land – right in her loving arms. 

About Morgan Hill:

Morgan Hill is an essayist and humorist. She has written for many online and print publications including Insider, Your Teen Magazine, Revel, and MASK Magazine. She is the mother of freshman and senior sons in high school. When not writing, she can be found at flea markets, in her garden, photographing architecture, taking cooking classes, or eating the stinkiest cheese she can find. You can also find her on Twitter @MorganHWrites or Instagram @MorganHillWriter

If you enjoyed reading, ”20 Ways Teens are Just Like Toddlers,”  check out these other posts!

23 Things That Threw Me for a Loop When My Kids Became Teenagers

75 Hilarious Tweets About Raising Teenagers That Are So Relatable

Life with Teenagers: 20 Things I Really Wasn’t Prepared For

Why Not Join Us?
I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Join over 3.000 visitors who are receiving our newsletter and learn how to optimize your blog for search engines, find free traffic, and monetize your website.
RAISING TEENS TODAY is a resource and safe zone for parents to share the joys, challenges, triumphs and frustrations of raising our oh, so imperfect (but totally awesome) teens. PLUS, sign up and you'll receive my FREE e-Book "Scoring Scholarships!"

You may also like

Leave a Comment