I'm feeling afraid of my 3.5 year old. I would call her spirited and I have always considered her rather difficult, but all and all I've felt as if I had a handle on things and that I had struck a good balance between giving her a sense of control and freedom, and yet not losing control myself. Today, and lately, though, things have seemed increasingly bad. We had a playdate at our house, which is not the norm, and my daughter was acting pretty out of control. When I tried to "discipline" her by taking her away from the group to her room to calm her down (this after several attempts to calm her down with reminders and by stopping her, looking her in the eyes and talking to her) she started kind of clawing at my ears and face.
We have a history of problems with her hitting, particularly when I say no or force her to do something she doesn't want to do. I do try to employ creative techniques to get her to do what I want her to do, try to let less important undesirable behavior slide, and give her choices when I can, but sometimes my lack of personal resources (energy level, patience) and time limitations make taking a stand and forcing the issue the only option. My only recourse with the hitting has been to give time outs and/or to tell her that if she doesn't hit that she will get an after dinner treat.
Anyway, it got so bad this afternoon (after playdate had ended) that she started saying things like, "If you don't do X, Mommy, I'm going to hit you all day and all night." I feel like I have a psycho child on my hands!!
I know it's hard to evaluate a parenting situation when you haven't witnessed it first hand, but I can tell you that we live a very predictable life and that my parenting is consistent about 90% of the time. This week is unique in that we just got back from vacation Sunday, my daughter's long term babysitter left two days ago, and I haven't been as patient as I usually am, but I feel like her behavior is really over the top, and I don't know how to handle it. I mean, how does one respond to, "Mommy, if you don't do X or Y, I'm going to hit you all day and night and I'm not going to do anything you want me to do!"?? I strongly believe that I cannot let really disrespectful words and behaviors stand, yet my only recourse (which doesn't seem to accomplish anything) is to give her a time out. I want to employ gentle discipline, but she is so strong willed and at times disrespectful that she may not have the personality for it. Yet, if anything, time outs seem to backfire. (she seems revenge driven, not just with time outs but with my telling her no about anything.)
Please advise if you can! Thank you for reading!!!