They are both exploring their world and pushing boundaries. The worlds are different in size and scope, but those boundaries are being tested like a Raptor on the electric fence. They want to see if you’ll still say no each and every time, or can they find a weak spot?
They are trying to figure themselves out. Teenagers are exploring their identity, overly fearful that who they are now will be who they will always be—but also testing out different personalities, like hats, depending on who or where. Toddlers are discovering self and the fact that they can, for example, say no and have their own opinions.
And, most importantly, they both want to know that they are and will be loved, even at their most difficult. Sometimes, because they are the most difficult. To know that someone will care about them, always. Perhaps someone who cares enough to say, “No.” Sometimes they just need a hug. Even the big ones.
Luckily, many of the same things that worked on my toddler… also worked in my classroom, both before and after I realized they were the same. Things like not engaging, explaining, or debating with the toddler tantrum or the teenage defiance/ misdirection. Or searching, sometimes desperately, for something positive to praise on those tough days. Or even something so small as taking a minute to greet the child (big or small) when I saw them—whether it was my son who has waited the toddler-equivalent of an eternity for my return, or my students who quietly wanted someone to notice they were there (or when they were not there.)
I had never expected that my young son at home would help me with classroom management. As I refined my methods in one arena, I found it spilling over to the other. I do silently chuckle when I hear my Momma-voice coming out in the classroom.
Though, I would never want a classroom of toddlers! At least teenagers usually use a tissue for their snotty nose, amongst other benefits.
Clair Dickson, high school English teacher, likes free eTexts and Project Based Learning to stretch her meager budget . Visit her store High School English on a Shoestring Budget to stretch your budget.