From Toddler to Teen: 12 Things Your Teenager Will Never Outgrow

In SO many ways, the toddler within your teen lives on...

by Nancy Reynolds

This Post: From Toddler to Teen: 12 Things Your Teenager Will Never Outgrow

Written By: Morgan Hill

Our teen’s toddler years… if we close our eyes hard enough, we might be able to picture them sitting on the couch with their sippy cup in hand watching their favorite show or hearing their sweet giggles when we leaned in for a little tickle time.

And, even though we’re all likely convinced life is completely different now, there’s a saying that goes, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” and boy, does that hold true for our kids. 

The truth is, your teen’s toddler days may be long over, but the toddler in them is still alive and well. Here are some things your teenager will never outgrow.

From Toddler to Teen: 12 Things Your Teenager Will Never Outgrow


1. Blankies & Naps

Swaddled in one as an infant, dragging a tattered and worn one behind them as a toddler, and, finally, tucking their favorite one away to take to college – there are just some things our kids may never outgrow and having a special “blankie” is one of them. They also love naptime as much as they did when they were toddlers, maybe MORE! Who knew having teenagers would involve SO many blankets and long naps?

2. Stuffed Animals

Walk into any teenager’s bedroom and you’ll likely find a few (or maybe a BIG pile of) stuffed animals on their bed or tucked away in a corner of their room. Even our boys, who act way too cool for stuffed animals, have their favorites they refuse to part with. And, who can blame them?

Those soft “stuffies” are what they cuddled with at night when they were little, that scared away the monsters lurking under their beds and that they carried around until they were (literally) falling apart. Now those same cuddly stuffed animals are the comfort they need to remind them of their early childhood days. 

3. Finicky Food Preferences

Remember those days (oh, wait… years) of cutting the crusts off of every piece of toast or sandwich to appease your finicky eater? Well, not much has changed only NOW your much bigger finicky eater only eats chicken nuggets with ketchup, french fries, burgers, or pizza. Maybe they have a specific drink they just have to have or a favorite breakfast bar you have to buy for them when you’re at the store. Yep. They still have those finicky (okay, sometimes weird) food preferences… that may never change.

4. Santa, Elf on The Shelf, the Easter Bunny, and Other Magical Memories of Childhood

Maybe they woke up on Christmas morning to a pile of gifts under the tree from the man in red himself. Maybe they got a shiny quarter under their pillow every time one of their baby teeth fell out. Or maybe they built a trap to finally catch The Elf on the Shelf in action. (Which never worked! Hmmmm.) Okay, okay you may have lied to them, with good intent, but your teenager will never forget those years of magic you created. And, it’s those magical memories that make them cling to those early days and want to revisit them every year. LET THEM…

5. Childhood Movies

Cinderella, Bambi, Peter Pan, Snow White… does your teen ever pull one of these movies out and hunker down with a big bowl of popcorn to watch it? Your kiddo is soaking up those wonderful childhood memories. Just wait, chances are they’ll be watching those same movies with their kids one day. 

6. Trick or Treating

While there might be a few teens who cave into the notion that they’re “too old to trick or treat,” the majority of teens – yep, even the 6’2″ 17-year-old boys – still get a kick out of dressing up and hitting a few houses just for old time’s sake. Their costumes might not be as elaborate. Heck, some just toss on a pirate hat or a football jersey while they’re running out the door, but they still crave revisiting those childhood memories AND sifting through their trick-or-treat bag for their favorite candy.

7. Snuggles (Albeit, Teenager Style)

No matter if it was part of a special routine or just the way to spend an afternoon watching a cartoon movie, snuggle time was the best.

Your teenager remembers that feeling of closeness too, as evidenced now by how they lean into you for a hug or drape their legs over you when they’re sitting on the sofa to watch the latest Netflix drop. A snuggle from Mom can still fix pretty much anything.

8. Bedtime Stories

Once upon a time, you cuddled up in bed and read to them while they drifted off to sleep. Now your kiddo can get themselves to sleep, probably long after your bedtime! But that doesn’t mean they don’t crave a good bedtime story while you’re both making a late-night snack in the kitchen or hanging out in the living room. In fact, don’t be surprised if your teen turns the tables and tells YOU a bedtime story about their day, some drama they’re experiencing, or the latest school gossip. Sure, the stories have changed, but that closeness you shared is still lovingly there.

9. Picky Clothes Preferences

Remember those days when your kid only wanted to dress up as a superhero or a princess? Sure, they pick their own clothes now, but there’s a good chance they still have their own picky clothes preferences  – which, by the way, have become WAY more expensive than any superhero costume. Concert shirts or pajama pants? Only Converse, Vans, or Nikes? Adidas, Lululemon, or some other expensive name-brand? Some things just haven’t changed since they were toddlers.

10. Toys

You used to be able to pick up a $10 toy at Target and it would keep them occupied for hours. Now their toys cost (quite literally) hundreds of dollars – gaming equipment, video games, cell phones (which are kinda like toys to a teen), and other tech toys – whether your kid is a toddler or a teenager, they will always want and need their “toys.”

11. Plenty of “Fun Time” with the Family

A day at the park. A trip to the zoo. An afternoon at the waterpark with the family. Don’t think for a minute that your teen still doesn’t crave no-pressure, “fun time” and adventure with you and/or their friends. Plan a day at the amusement park, go zip-lining, or venture out for a long hike up a mountain. Those carefree, fun adventures, laughs, and memories in the making are what they’ll carry in their hearts forever.

12. The Need for YOU

Of all the things your teenager will never outgrow, this tops the list. They needed you when they fell and skinned their knee. They needed you when the world felt big and they needed a comforting hand to hold. And guess what? They STILL need you but in a much bigger, deeper way.

Now they need you to guide them with their life decisions, they need help navigating complicated relationships and they need your help learning how to become a responsible, capable adult. Mostly, they need to know the unconditional love you showed when they were a toddler still holds true no matter how many mistakes or fumbles they make. Your love made them stronger when they were a toddler and it makes them even stronger now that they’re a teenager. They’ll always need you… no matter what.

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, “From Toddler to Teen: 10 Things Your Teenager Will Never Outgrow,” you might enjoy reading these posts too!

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What Teenagers Really Need From Their Parents

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