Are teenagers more challenging than toddlers?

Are teenagers more challenging than toddlers?

Are teenagers more challenging than toddlers?  This is a debate a friend and I were having the other day and it was an interesting one too.  She has children aged between two and five and of course, mine are all older now and I am the proud owner of two rather lovely teenagers. But we both felt quite strongly that our stage of parenting was more of a challenge.

She is exhausted.  The ‘twonager’ as she fondly describes her son is at that rampaging stage where he wants everything his way and no other way will do.  His response to the word ‘no’ is a full-on, throw himself on the floor stamping and screaming. HIs three-year-old sister is much older and wiser and although she isn’t as demanding as her brother, she does have her moments. She has already learnt to manipulate her parents through the not so subtle art of turning on the waterworks at the drop of a hat.  It is an impressive sight to behold and one that she has off to a fine art.

I get it. I’ve been through the toddler stage four times no less and interestingly each of my children was completely different. At the time, it did seem exhausting and at times terrifying.  The tantrums, the tears, the frustration, the lounge redecorated with Sudocrem (that one was a real highlight).

Looking back at the toddler years now, I would say that they are early preparation for what is to come as for me the teenage years are far more of a challenge. I can see where the terms ‘twonager’, ‘threenager’ etc have come from. The comparisons are obvious.

Let me just make it clear that the teenage years are not all bad.  They really are not.  I love my boys with all my heart and at times they are a delight to be around.  We have some great conversations when they are in the right mood and can be really fun to spend time with. But. Teenagers are challenging. They themselves,  are finding these years challenging with all of the emotional, physical and hormonal changes they are going through.  These changes are reflected in their behaviour.  Aggression, mood swings, complete and sudden changes in personality, these are all normal, expected behaviours in a teenager.

In fact, I would go as far to say that teenagers and toddlers are very similar. Aggression. Defiance. Tantrums.  Mood swings. Refusing to accept decisions. Hitting out when things don’t go their way.  Manipulating those around them to get what they want. That all sounds very familiar, doesn’t it?  The only real difference is that as a parent of a teenager, you could now be dealing with a young adult who is up to six feet tall and with the worries about drinking, drugs, sex and mental health issues added in, it can all feel a little bit overwhelming at times.

My husband and I have reflected on this a lot over the last few months and we wholeheartedly agree that this stage of parenting is so much more challenging.  For all of the tantrums, toddlers do (for the most part) wear themselves out and go to sleep at a reasonable hour.  Teenagers do not.  In fact, most teenagers think that they do not need any sleep and keep on going many hours longer than their frazzled parents. A toddler can be contained within the house or garden.  Teenagers cannot.  They have a tendency to storm out if things aren’t going their way and as teens generally go out a lot with friends, getting them to come home at a reasonable hour can also be a challenge. You may worry what your toddler is doing when everything suddenly goes quiet but you worry far more about your teenagers and what they are up to, who they are with and what is going on in their heads.

We knew that these few crossover years would be tricky ones with two teens in the house at the same time.  Some people laugh and tell me that the real fun will come when the smallest one is a teenager.  Apparently, teen girls are even more challenging. Deep joy.

I think I would rather have my whole house redecorated with Sudocrem.

What do you think, which are the most challenging years of parenting, the toddler years or the teens?

Are teenagers more challenging than toddlers

Are teenagers more challenging than toddlers
Article Name
Are teenagers more challenging than toddlers
Having put the toddler years behind us, I now feel that as the owner of two teenagers, the toddler years were a doddle in comparison
Publisher Name
Stressy Mummmy


  1. January 7, 2019 / 9:23 am

    It’s a close one! I’ve been pretty lucky with my teenagers and haven’t had to deal with many of the things you describe. But parenting teenagers is still tiring and frustrating and one of mine in particular certainly has his moments!
    I’m aware that one of my teenagers is still only 15 and I have a 12 year old set to become a teenager very soon, so I have many years of teen parenting to come.
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted…Concussion and recoveryMy Profile

  2. January 7, 2019 / 1:15 pm

    Yes 100x yes! I roll my eyes at parents when they just have NO IDEA what trouble is coming when their slightly mischevious toddler is a fully screaming teenager lol

  3. January 7, 2019 / 1:18 pm

    Oh gosh! I am already so scared to parent my two daughters through the teenage years because the toddler years have been tough enough!

  4. January 7, 2019 / 3:42 pm

    I was a nightmare for my parents when I was a teenager! I can imagine its a more stressful time for parents than toddlers because the emotions are so raw when you’re going through puberty!

  5. January 7, 2019 / 6:14 pm

    I have a 14 year old and so far he isn’t too bad! I live in fear though!

  6. January 7, 2019 / 11:11 pm

    I have a 10 year old and a 12 year old that went through puberty at 8 and seems to have already come out the other side. It’s a nightmare – the backchatting, moodswings, door slamming … TODDLERS, any day of the week!

  7. January 8, 2019 / 9:22 am

    I have heard many people say this – I found the toddler years incredibly hard so I better get myself prepared!!

  8. January 9, 2019 / 5:15 pm

    As the proud owner of tots and teens (and beyond) I would totally agree with you. I thought I had got away with until my daughter turned 16 and then she turned overnight. We are the best of friends again now, but I wouldn’t wish that stage on anyone!!

  9. January 9, 2019 / 10:12 pm

    I’ve got a 14 year old son and overall he’s been good, of course we have our days with him though! But I have twin girls who are 9 and I don’t think life will be quite so easy with them!!

  10. February 12, 2019 / 2:20 pm

    I believe that every age has its very specific difficulties, and it’s very difficult to decide which is better or worse. First you’re worried if they are breathing, why they cry and so on, then you worry about teeth, walking, falling, then comes the school… Having kids is really just one big challenge where the love is combined with nerves and worrying. I can’t wait for my daughter to become a teenager, but I am also very scared of it, because I still remember me as a teenager, and I was a handful.
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  11. March 9, 2019 / 12:34 pm

    Raising teens is certainly will test your patience and may even drive you to the edge of homicidal maniac at times. There are moments when it is utterly heartbreaking too. When your 13 daughter expresses to you that she is depressed and has been cutting, you feel frightened and helpless. My 15 year old son feels so out of place right now. He is lonely and feels he doesn’t have friends. Yet when they were tots, they were absolute joys…always! I very fondly remember those years and hope to come out of the teen years happy and healthy too.

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