My 3 and a half year old is usually pretty well behaved compared to most, but I'm reaching my wits end when it comes to getting him out of the house in the morning... He just refuses to do anything without a battle. Getting him dressed and fed and out the door to preschool is taking me TWO HOURS!!! We follow the same routine every day, but from the moment he wakes up it's a battle. He wakes up happy enough, but refuses to get out of bed... then refuses to get dressed. Any outfit I put out he refuses to wear, and I know it's just to be difficult because a shirt he loves one day will be refused the next. Then breakfast drags on because he will have a fit over how much cereal is in his bowl, or how much milk, etc. Then he follows me around telling me he doesn't want me to be his mommy or that I'm bad blah blah. EVERYTHING takes at least 5 times as long as it should. It's a combo of independence and brattiness. He does the same thing with my husband. I'm at my wits end with this kid. I'm a working mother, and I'm getting up at 6 and not getting into the office until 9! And I have no commute! It's all time wasted with stupid little stuff like him refusing to let anyone else zip his sweatshirt, or wanting to make his own bowl of cereal etc. And bedtime is an issue as well. He FIGHTS sleep until 11 pm a lot of nights. I have tried bribery, tried telling him he wouldn't get to do something fun if he doesn't get ready, tried ignoring the whiny tantrums, tried taking toys away, and NOTHING is working. At preschool he is a perfect angel... the teachers tell me how mature and helpful he is, etc. Said he is one of the easiest kids they have had. I'm at the point where I'm convinced he is just trying to make our lives more difficult. Since I work I have the typical working mom guilt, so he gets a ton of attention from us at home and on weekends. My husband and I get no alone time because we spend all of our time with him (and during those times he is pretty chill so it's delightful to be with him.) Have I just created a brat by giving him too much attention? Has anyone else dealt with this? Honestly, if I had a regular job I would probably be fired for showing up at 9 everyday. I've considered just waking him up at 5, but I know he is not getting enough sleep as it is!! What can I do??? I'm about to sign him up for baby boot camp or something!!!! What am I doing wrong?
Toddler Refuses to Go With the Flow
My 3 and a half year old
It's a combo of independence and brattiness. He does the same thing with my husband. I'm at my wits end with this kid.
I have tried bribery, tried telling him he wouldn't get to do something fun if he doesn't get ready, tried ignoring the whiny tantrums, tried taking toys away, and NOTHING is working. At preschool he is a perfect angel...
What am I doing wrong?
I cut out what I think are the pertinent parts :-)
He's three, it really is his job to try to control everything--it's super fun, I know :-) I think the reason nothing is working is that he is better at fighting things right now than you are! And he is getting something out of these exchanges--lots of attention and time, even though it is not happy attention. If there is even a hint of something you don't want a three year old to do, most of them will not stop until they have done it.
You say it's taking two hours now, what if you prepped everything that is vital to do in the evening and had it all in one room before he wakes up? Then make EVERYTHING into a game, the same game, in the same order every.single.day. Say your new routine takes an hour, just go with it. At some point you will be able to shave more time off, and you guys will have fun rather than fights every morning. Your still an hour ahead of the game, right?
Examples of games we play:
"And now we put the sock on your head--wait a minute this is really hard to fit, maybe it goes on your ear...hmm I know it's your foot!"
"Come over so I can brush your elbows and your feet, what do you mean that's not right? I am the mommy so I could never be wrong, hurry up and put the toothpaste on your toes" Hysterical giggles and he shows me how to brush his own teeth.
Pick two or three things you have to have him do each day, and then figure out what your kid thinks is fun or interesting. Mine is a stubborn little guy, but he totally cracks me up most of the time :-)
Whatever works for your family, but this has really made my day easier with the hardest child to "rush" I have ever met--my third is a pill and a half when he wants to be, and when I am in a bad mood or a hurry he will always drag things out.
It sounds like he needs to feel more in control. Give him tasks he can do. Maybe put his cereal in a little plastic pour-container (the kind with a lid that one side flips open) and let him pour it in the bowl himself ~so what if half of it spills? Easier and quicker to clean up than to fight with him, right? Getting dressed: lay out two or three options and let him choose ~you're probably already doing that and I know they often choose NONE, but your wording made me believe maybe you were the one choosing his clothes. A three year old should really be allowed to choose their own outfits. If he won't let anyone zip up his sweatshirt then leave it open. So what?
I highly recommend the tips given on Dr. Laura's website: http://www.ahaparenting.com/ Her sections on toddlers and preschoolers probably have some advice you could use about now.
And one more thing: I feel for you. Please try to remember he is not out to get you and he is not acting this way to annoy you. He is being a typical 3 year old doing what is developmentally appropriate. He can sense your attitude, even if you're not saying it in so many words. If you think of him as a brat, he feels that and it only fuels his acting out more. You set the tone and if you consider your mornings a battle, so will he.
Take a few deep breaths and remember: this too shall pass.
Yes, Dr. Laura Markham is GREAT! Her website changed my whole view of parenting.
Have you considered making a little morning routine chart with pictures of what he's supposed to do?
Wake up, go potty, eat brekkie, get dressed, etc.
It helps in that you don't have to nag about the same stuff every single day. It's not you bossing him around constantly -- it's just the "routine."
But yeah, I agree -- he needs as much control over his life that's possible and age-appropriate.