Parenthood comes with its own set of uniquely challenging moments, that test the mental, physical, and definitely emotional capacities of any human being. I'd argue, however, that nothing is more challenging than attempting to handle a toddler. Sure, I only have one kid and right now we're in the mind-numbingly frustrating throes of toddlerhood, but getting my grown-ass woman pants on and dealing with his tantrums and mood-swings can be, well, difficult. Of course, there are ways every grown-ass woman handles her toddler, so I just need to hone my skills and practice some patience and wait for it to get better. I mean, it does get better, right? (Pretend this is rhetorical and please don't let me know if it doesn't. I don't want to know. Not even a little.)
Toddlers are learning to come into their own, and define what their "own" actually looks like. They're exploring, testing boundaries, and attempting to learn how to control their emotions. They play it fast and loose with the world "no," leaving you to wonder when you should listen to your toddler and respect their wishes, and when you should be the authoritative figure they need. They're dressing themselves (or wanting to) which is sometimes adorable, sometimes impossible and sometimes unnecessary. They're starting to fight nap time and they're probably potty training; both difficult situations that can be time-consuming and soul-crushing. Honestly, they're tiny patience-pushers who act like your worst drunk roommate from college far too regularly for you to consider it "cute."
However, there are ways of successfully dealing with a toddler; ways that a grown-ass woman is going to use at length and with great thought. A toddler is stressful to anyone, but when a grown-ass woman uses these 11 ways to handle a toddler, that stress level can at least be manageable.
They Don't Take Tantrums Personally
When a toddler throws one of their many, many tantrums, they're not doing it to drive you to the brink of insanity. It can feel that way, especially when/if their tantrum involves hitting or slapping or biting or throwing or screaming or, well, anything that is capable of making a bottle (or four) of wine seem like an absolute necessity. But in reality, a toddler throws a tantrum because their prefrontal cortex is underdeveloped. A grown-ass woman knows that their toddler's ability to control and regulate their emotions and/or social behavior is still evolving, so when they feel scared, confused, frustrated, in pain, hungry or tired, they throw fits. It honestly has nothing to do with a toddler attempting to be vindictive or manipulative, and everything to do with a toddler just being a toddler.
They Get On Their Toddler's Level. Literally.
A grown-ass woman isn't going to tower over her kid when explaining an answer to a complicated question or disciplining her kid. Instead, she is gong to get on her kid's level so she can look him or her in the eyes. Squatting so that you can look your kid in the face establishes a solid connection, promotes understanding and assists your toddler in actively listening. A grown-ass woman isn't going to rely on scare tactics to help her toddler understand whatever it is they're struggling to comprehend but, instead, would rather meet her toddler at their level and assist them through the process, one step at a time.
They Practice Patience...
A grown-ass woman isn't going to shy away from the harder parts of parenting, and being consistently patient is easily one of the hardest parts. Patience is an outright necessity when you're handling a toddler and, because no one is perfect, every parent is bound to lose their patience a time or two or three or a thousand. But with each day comes a new opportunity to parent correctly, and a grown-ass woman is going to take those opportunities to practice the art of patience, so she helps her toddler instead of adding to their frustration.
...And The Art Of Internal Screaming
And, you know, every grown-ass woman handling a toddler is the absolute queen of the internal scream. Your toddler, developmentally or otherwise, can't deal with their emotions, but you can, so you do. You grit your teeth and wait for the storm to pass and just, do.
They Find Alternative Forms Of Communication
If your toddler isn't capable of communicating via complete (or even slightly complete) sentences, there are other ways to effectively and successfully understand your toddler, and visa versa. A grown-ass woman is going to think outside of the box in order to make it easier to understand her toddler, and have her toddler easily understand her. Whether it's sign language, showing and/or pointing, leading by example or encouraging talking with books; a grown-ass woman is going to learn how to effectively communicate with her kid until talking becomes second nature.
They Let Their Toddler Make Certain Decisions
Believe it or not, handling a toddler doesn't mean making every single solitary decision for them. A grown-ass woman knows that there are some moments when you should let your toddler have the final say. Whether it's deciding when they're full, deciding who they want to hug, or picking out their outfit; learning to let go and give your kid more control over their person, is a big part of healthy parenting.
They Know When To Give Their Toddler Space...
It's important to give your kid a sense of safety and security, but it's also important to give your kid space and time. Just like adults, toddlers need the room to calm down, assess particular situations or just be by themselves. A grown-ass woman is going to give her kid that ability, whether it's backing off at the playground or letting them spend some solo-time in their own home.
...And When To Give Themselves Space
And, of course, a grown-ass woman is going to realize when she needs to give herself some space, too. Handling a toddler is frustrating and stressful and difficult, and putting yourself in a position to say something you don't mean or act out in a way that isn't truly indicative of your parenting style, isn't helpful to anyone. Learning when you need to walk away for a moment, collect yourself, take a deep breath or simply relax, is essential. It's not selfish; it doesn't mean you're a horrible mother; it doesn't mean you're failing, it just means you're a human being that values themselves as much as they value anyone else.
They Set Positive Examples
A grown-ass woman knows that a toddler learns by observing, just as much as they learn from playing or learn by specific instructions or directions. If you want your toddler to eat their vegetables, you'll eat your vegetables too. If you want your toddler to put their toys away, you'll help them by showing them where they go. If you want your toddler to learn to love reading, you'll read to them. Handling a toddler is less about telling them what to do, and more about showing them what they should be doing.
They Don't Handle Their Toddler By Themselves
A grown-ass woman is going to know when to ask for help, at any time but especially when it comes to handling a toddler. She won't see it as "admitting defeat" or "failing" or some other negative connotation, and she definitely won't consider martyrdom to be part of motherhood. No, instead, she is going to ask for help from either her partner, a family member, a friend, a nanny, a neighbor; whoever is her support system who can give her some much needed, much deserved self-care time to do literally anything else but handle a toddler.
They Cut Themselves Some Slack
And, of course, a grown-ass woman isn't going to be horribly hard on herself. Parents (yes, even mothers!) make mistakes, and everyone is going to mess up a time or two when they're attempting to deal with their toddler. You'll lose your cool, lash out irrationally, say something you didn't mean or fail to handle a specific situation/question/comment/tantrum "correctly." You'll probably feel guilty because, hey, guilt and motherhood seem to go hand-in-hand, but don't be too hard on yourself. There's no such thing as a perfect parent.