Here I am, sitting on the floor of my 2-year-old's room, my back to the door. She's also on the floor, several feet away from me, but she's naked, kicking, and screaming. Kate didn't want her diaper changed. She doesn't want to get dressed.
Meanwhile, I'm trying a new tactic. While Kate screams and I watch her, occasionally reminding her that everything is okay, I'm writing this article in my head. The topic: qualities that will help the parents of toddlers survive -- and even benefit from -- typical scenes like this one. Right now, for instance, I'm working on achieving perspective (a cooler, calmer one) in the face of out-of-control emotions. It doesn't come easily to me.
Now in my second go-round through the trials of the toddler years (Kate's older sister, Anna, had her fair share of kicking-and-screaming episodes that I somehow managed to endure), I've been reminded more than once that raising kids is about my personal growth as well as theirs. "Having a toddler will challenge you in new ways -- ways that require some of the most mature, empathetic, sophisticated, and confident behavior that a human being can muster," says Ross Thompson, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist at the University of California at Davis.
This includes marshaling great patience, stamina, creativity, determination -- and a robust sense of humor. But in order to make it through (and beyond) your child's irrational, exciting toddlerhood with a sense of fun and without going crazy, also allow these five traits to blossom in yourself: