Teens V Toddlers: Which Age Is The Most Challenging?

17/04/2011 18:43 | Updated 22 May 2015

teens v toddlersTeens or Toddlers? Ever wondered which age is the most challenging for parents?

Shona is mum to one just-teen and one toddler (plus two children in between her eldest and youngest). Here's her hilarious A-Z guide...

A: Answering back

Teenagers perceive it as their given right to backchat, dig heels in and vocalise loudly. Usually happens when something needs to be done in a hurry or Grandma is staying. Call it a stage, call it a growing sense of independence, call it whatever you want.

Teens win hands down.

B: Bodies

Toddlers are unashamedly proud to display bottoms and belly buttons at every possible opportunity. Once, my daughter, aged two, stripped off and stood in a shop window totally nude whilst I tried on trousers in the changing room.

Teenagers are prudes. Everything happens behind a locked bathroom door. And usually for hours.

C: Cute factor

There is nothing cute about a hormonal 14 year old bemoaning the fact her life is 'boring' and everything is 'unfair.'

Give me a two-year-old sticking her fingers up her nose any day.

D: Daylight

Toddlers see more of it.

Especially the sunrise bit.

E: Eye rolling

With puberty comes all sorts of strange changes to the body and the involuntary sky-wise movement of the eyeball seems one of the most common. I often look at the ceiling in our kitchen wondering just what is so interesting up there to hold my daughter's weary gaze so constantly.

F: Furniture

Teenagers endlessly lounge on it, toddlers use it as a climbing frame.Both hide wrappers under the cushions.

G: Grunting

Tots and teens do a good line in a monolithic lingo. But teens might just have the edge.

H: Helping

Toddlers are willing and eager to help but one has to ask if, really, it might just be a bit quicker to unload the dishwasher yourself and put the plates away properly (rather than piling them up in the dog basket).

Teens are notoriously reluctant to do anything outside their own stratosphere but when pushed to be of assistance can actually be useful. Sometimes.


This is a letter both tots and teens use with equal frequency, normally followed by the word 'want.'

J: Joy

What they bring us. Honest.

K: Knighthood

What you may feel you deserve having survived both developmental stages.

L: Last word

This will always belong to teenagers. Go on, let it go. It's a small price to pay.

M: Music

Wheels on the bus or The Wanted? Let's be honest - both sound awful when repeated, endlessly at full volume.

N: No.

This was the first word all my children learnt and they used it profusely until about the age of three. Gets a tad disheartening when it's the one answer to every question asked, especially: Do you love Mummy?

O: Owner

This is a slightly fluid concept in a household with both toddler and teen. Nothing is sacred. Thought that lipstick was yours? Doh.

P: POS (Parent on shoulder)

Those with teens who have discovered the world of online chat will know what this means. Those of you who have no idea – rejoice and relax. For now. Enjoy that cuddly toddler on shoulder instead.

Q: Quiet.

Teenagers are silent before 8am, toddlers after 8pm. If, like me, you have one of each - get earplugs.

R: Reminisce

Remember those days when your eyes could be at the front of your head? Good, weren't they?

S: Sick

When toddlers get sick you may as well cancel all other engagements to wash sheets and mop up vomit. When teens say they're 'sick' it means they're actually cool or awesome. Apparently.

T: Technology

Teenagers know how stuff works. They can troubleshoot the family computer and do signal tests on the Skybox. If it's got a screen they couldn't be more helpful. Just don't ask them to find the remote control.

U: Underwear

Well, there are pants and there are nappies. You decide.


It's the victory sign. Honest Mum.

W: Whatever.

Don't we just love that word? Nuff said.

X: X-rays

Face it. You're going to spend hours in casualty either way.


Or put it this way... Why, why why? (Is the sky blue? Do I have to do that?)

Zzzzzz: Fact: Teens sleep a lot, it's good for their brains. Toddlers don't. (Which might explain why they think sticking peas in their ears in a good idea)

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