My 3 year old daughter has a hitting issue. She will hit me whenever I force her to do something that she doesn't want to do. She has difficulty with transitioning from one thing to the next, so I use a timer so that she knows how much time she has before it's lunchtime, dinnertime or bathtime. This often works, but sometimes, she wants to continue doing what she's doing so I will usually say, "ok, I'm going to count to 10. When I get to 10 you can come over here to eat your lunch or I can come and get you." The hitting will often take place if I have to pick her up and carry her to the table. The same thing happened this morning when I was getting her into the car seat. She was taking her time getting into the seat, so finally I picked her up and put her in myself since we were running late. She smacked me in the face. Today hasn't been a good day because I've gotten smacked twice by her and have responded very poorly, basically yelling at her very loudly the first time and putting her in her crib for a few minutes for a time out the second time. My very loud yelling is totally inappropriate, I realize, but unfortunately there are days when my tolerance/patience is low and I just snap. Then, of course, I feel like the biggest loser in the world, and I'm not even sure how to repair the damage I feel as if I've caused.
The other problem we have is my daughter's treatment of our animals (2 dogs and a cat). I have told her repeatedly for as long as I can remember that the animals are a part of the family, that we need to take care of them, that we must be gentle with them. Yet over and over again, my daughter will push them, make kicking motions towards them, jump very close to them (which obviously is nerve wracking for them) and even do this growling thing towards them. It's not a constant thing, but it is a regular thing. There is always at least one incident a day and usually a few. As with the hitting, I'm sick and tired of trying to teach her and be patient with her, especially because she is very smart, and KNOWS very well that she's doing something that is absolutely not ok.
How would you apply gentle discipline in these cases? I want to be the patient, calm mom at all times (and I do try) but I also don't know what to do when all I do is sound like a broken record and the behavior continues. And I don't necessarily know if I'm serving her by not giving her firmer consequences. Occasionally she gets time outs if the behavior is really bad, but usually I just tell her plainly that what she's doing is not ok. It is definitely not a communication/teaching problem. She KNOWS.
Thanks for reading!