Which Is Tougher? Tweens or Terrible Twos
When my kids were two and three years old, all I could think about was how long it was going to take for them to finally grow up. To not throw tantrums in restaurants. Or supermarkets. Or the back seat of my car. When my daughter was two, my life was spent in restaurant bathrooms - carting her to the toilet every time she thought she had the urge to tinkle when all she really wanted to do was play with the water faucet. But when I think about those years, I don't really remember them being terrible. Sure, my time wasn't my own, but at least my kids were exactly where I wanted them to be...by my side.
Fast forward one decade and now, I'm struggling with my headstrong and independent daughter who no longer has a fixation with restrooms. Instead, she's obsessed with her hair, whether she can finally wear make-up and if she can go to the mall by herself with her friends. My tween, who used to be strapped safely behind me in her car seat, now plops herself into the front seat and turns on radio stations that I would never listen to if she weren't there. My tween argues with me and her dad as if she were a lawyer. In fact, I often tell her that if she wants to pursue a career as an attorney, she'll probably be incredibly successful at it. She just doesn't quit. Sure, she doesn't throw tantrums and I can understand everything she says, but is she easier now that she's this close to becoming a teen? Nope. Not at all.
As for my son, who was always the easy going second child who never gave us any problems, things have started to change on his front too. He gets mad if we quiz him on his homework or an upcoming project. While we offer support to him, he thinks he can do it all himself and despite the fact that he sometimes brings home grades that are not as stellar as they used to be, he doesn't want to let on that he needs our help. He's stubborn as the day is long and try as I might, he sometimes doesn't want my help or anyone else's for that matter (my mom tried too and she got the cold shoulder).
What I can say about my kids nowadays is that when it comes to the restaurant experience, they are the ideal dining companions. They eat anything, they're polite and they don't spend half the time in the bathroom. They even complain when there are other kids nearby who are whining to their parents about not wanting to sit at the table. They engage in conversation and sometimes tell really inappropriate jokes. They're becoming people who I'd really like to hang out with. In a word, my kids are great.
So which is harder? The terrible twos or the tween years? I say, both have its challenges.
- A two year old doesn't know how to control their emotions. At 12, their emotions can sometimes be heightened to a point where you just want to run into another room and hide.
- A two year old does not sit still. A 12 year old can be a technological couch potato - telling you to wait one more minute as you try to get them out the door and on the school bus.
- A two year old lets you dress them. A 12 year old whines and complains that they have nothing to wear even though you just took them shopping for clothes.
- A two year old is a like a ticking time bomb. You never know when they're going to explode. A 12 year old is impatient and wants instant gratification. Otherwise, she will throw a hissy fit until she gets her way.
Whether you're a parent of younger children or if you're like me and have kids who are thisclose to high school, I'm here to tell you, it actually does get easier. I love my tweens no matter how much they drive me crazy. I love that they have personalities, can tell good jokes and really do look forward to spending time with their dad and me.
These days, nobody has time for a temper tantrum and that's why as much as I'd like to say that the tween years are tougher, it's truly a crap shoot. For parents of tweens, the key is to listen to your kids and not berate them if they've made a mistake. It's hard to do, but nobody ever said parenting comes with an instruction manual. Then again, if you need a little support on the homefront, take some advice from "America's Supernanny".