My son can be a very sweet, caring, bright and funny 3.5 year old. He's always been very agreeable (even the terrible 2s weren't that bad! I thought I had luck out!) and though he is not always perfect, he's always been a great little guy to be around.
Except in the past few months, he has a tendency to be SO, SO, SO contrary! We could come back from the best day at the playground, playing with friends, getting ice cream and I ask him "did we have a fun time" and without even thinking, he'll say "nope" or "no we had a bad time!" and then grin at me. I can play it off sometimes but goodness, it's so grating to always hear negativity.
If baby sister is napping, he'll come up to me and say "I'm allowed to be LOUD! i'm a bad boy!" and then I say that we're not and he says we are and tries to scream on purpose to wake her up. Randomly in the day he'll say "I'm bad! I don't love you, you're a bad mom!" and I'm just shocked where this is coming from??
Or if aunt/grandma/grandpa ask "Can I read you a book/can I take you to the park?" or something that he usually loves, he will say "No, I don't want that" and make a face or something equally rude :/ It's embarrassing sometimes because I can tell they think we aren't strict enough with him and that's why he "gets away" with this behavior. But honestly, I don't know how to convince him to be nice to someone. I tell him over and over that we must use kind words and if we don't want something we can just say "no thank you" and rarely he'll remember this but mostly he won't.
On the other hand, there are times he can be very sweet and come up and hug me and say "i love you, mama" or "I love my sister, that's why I want to wake her up" or "I am sorry" for something he did an hour ago. and I try to remember that sometimes bad attention is better than no attention but I try so hard to give him attention all day long! I just want my amiable and sweet son back! the other day I was putting him to bed and I thought we were having a sweet moment when he said "I don't love you" :((( I almost cried but I just asked him if that was kind thing to say and he said "yes" and I just didn't know what to say and asked my husband to put him to bed.
This was a ramble but my questions are:
Is this a phase and normal 3/4 year old behavior?
Should there be some consequence for the rude behavior toward me? I am inclined to think if it's a stage he will grow out of it, but I don't want it to be a habit and I don't want to be constantly disrespected. He knows it makes me feel sad because I tell him and he still doesn't care. Is this is situation where I should "nip it in the bud" like some are telling me or is there a different way to handle this?