Toddler or Preteen. Which stage is worse?
My sister-in-law still has a toddler running through her house, climbing up the walls, diving in the trash, hanging from lights, and grabbing knives. Yes, knives! When confronted, the little cherub innocently says, “I sorry!” and smiles like the most beautiful, but beguiling, child on the planet. Oh, she’s smart. Too smart.
On a good day, my sister-in-law’s sweet little ninja tot throws a toy across the room hitting her square between the eyes. The poor mom calls it shrapnel. “Incoming! Watch out for baby shrapnel!” Crackers, toys, blocks, bricks, an electric drill. Duck and cover takes on new meaning with her child.
But, on a bad day, the little angel brings her mom a plate with poop on it. Not kidding. A piece of poop. On a plate. Who knew a toddler could even go there? There should be a line that even a toddler won’t cross. Apparently there isn’t.
I can laugh because I don’t have a 3-year-old anymore. (Or so I thought.)
Is life better after toddlerhood?
Let’s face it, for some moms “the terrible twos” stage is really just a code word for “the terrible four years after the child starts walking and realizes they can take over the world because mom can’t run fast enough, climb high enough, or endure long enough to stop the child before it’s too late” stage.
Ask just about any mom of a busy toddler and you will most likely find that she is in a constant state of exhaustion and she just can’t wait until her kid is out of toddlerhood because then life will be easier.
I mean, I’ve been there. My daughter, Lady Bug, was a quite the dangerous little thing. She broke my nose with a bottle of Tums one day when she was two. (You never realize how hard a plastic bottle is until it is used as a weapon against you.)
So as my oldest daughter approached the preteen stage and my youngest exited toddlerhood, my brain was throwing a party.
Literally, a brain party. (Cue the celebratory music) No more diapers! No more getting them dressed! No more struggling to get them to go to bed and to stay in their bed! No more chasing a miniature human that knows “Tot Kwan Do” and is a danger to herself and others! (Ironically, this is the criteria used to determine if someone should be locked up as an adult.)
Life will be easier now. Right?
Enter preteen, stage left.
Meanwhile, as my brain is doing the happy dance, my oldest daughter, Ariel, somehow starts the hormone raging stage. All of the sudden, unbeknownst to me, her brain takes a vacation and her emotions start running the show.
The first time she went all crazy on me, screaming and crying and chasing me around the house and accusing me of things that didn’t happen, I began to wonder if I needed to get medical help for her. When I tried to get her to go to her room so I could have a break, she said, “What? You don’t like me?” I was dumbfounded.
Turns out this is completely normal for her age. What? Who knew? Welcome to the world of crazy.
Sometimes when the hormones are raging it almost feels like we are back in toddler land again. And then I can’t laugh about being out of the toddler stage anymore.
Can’t we all just get along?
She is literally a completely different girl on certain days. Like the aliens came down from outer space and swapped her brain out. Where did my sweet, young daughter go and who is this raging maniac screaming, “Well that’s just stupid! You are ruining my life!”
Sometimes when I try to get her to do chores or even just to go get a shower, she suddenly develops excessive exhaustion. She somehow can’t support the weight of her own body and collapses dramatically on the couch. Then she rolls onto the floor, only to army crawl a few feet before completely giving up and whining about how her life is horrible.
And then there is the arguing. Oh mercy in heaven! The arguing! If I tell her not to argue with me, then she argues about how she is not arguing with me. And then she argues about whether she argued about us arguing. I’m not making this stuff up.
Oh mercy! And then there is the crying. So much crying! (As I begin to weep at the thought of it.)
Well, people, I’m here to say that the preteen stage is just as exhausting as the toddler stage. Although, I do get a break while she is at school. So that is a bonus.
The Key to Survival
Yet, despite all the crazy that I never knew was in there, my daughter is still my baby. I love her to pieces and back again. I’m just learning a new kind of patience that I never knew existed. And I am discovering all kinds of amazing qualities about her.
The key is to see her potential and look for the positives.
She really has a nice personality and she is growing up and becoming a beautiful young lady. She is taller than me now and likes to point that out. Sometimes she even stands beside me to measure us. She has to make sure I know she is taller.
She is fun. She still laughs at some of my jokes. She still thinks I’m great and wants me to love her. She wants to do crafts and cooking with me and she wants to hang out and watch chick flicks with me. It’s like we have our own little club. We like the same music and we both love reading and she is quite intelligent.
Best of all, she is really good–the kind of good where I can be proud of her choices and trust her to do the right thing when I am not around. I hope this part lasts.
For now, I’m adapting to yet another child development stage, hanging on for dear life, and hoping that I somehow don’t make too many serious parenting mistakes before it is all over.
9 Awesome Tips on How to Love Your Crazy Hormonal Preteen Daughter
Here are some things that I am doing to help my preteen daughter to be happy and feel empowered and to show her that I love and respect her.
- I give her space when she needs it. (Or when I need it.)
- I let her have her opinion. (And I tell her dad to stop trying to change her opinions.)
- I try really hard to listen when she talks. (Even when there are way too many details and she is talking faster than my brain can process.)
- I am giving her opportunities to go and do fun things and to be with her friends.
- I am encouraging her to exercise and I am trying to exercise with her. (Exercise helps with happiness.)
- I trust her to make a lot of her own decisions in her life. (Within reason of course.)
- I do fun things with her that she likes. Just the two of us.
- Sometimes I spoil her a little. (She loves milkshakes!)
- I pray for her every day!
So if you have a daughter nearing the preteen stage, good luck! I hope you are ready. Preteens need a lot of love and patience. It can get kind of crazy and a little scary at times, but at least you don’t have to change diapers anymore. And there won’t be a miniature human bringing you a piece of poop on a plate anymore.
Thanks for stopping by! Leave a comment below if you have tips on loving your hormonal preteen daughter. Keep it real!
-Julie For Real