(just fyi: I've been a member of this forum for four years I think, but my previous profile no longer fits who I am so I changed to this one)
My son is going to be 3 on Wednesday. He's either an alien from a race of fierce jungle tiger people posing as a child, or somehow fits that spirited child description. I am trying VERY hard to implement authoritative parenting in our home--you know, the ideal calm parent with firm boundaries where it matters and freedom of choice for the child when it doesn't matter as much.
It's not working.
Without relying on a melatonin supplement, bedtime is an epic 2-3 hour battle every single night. When I'm making breakfast in the morning, if it's something that DS didn't choose, he physically tries to drag me away from making the food while screaming at me not to make it. If he doesn't want to wear clothes but we have to go somewhere there is a crying screaming kicking fit that often ends up with me joining in the crying and screaming while trying to manhandle him into his clothes so we're not late.
I can see several sources of frustration or overstimulation or understimulation or wrong stimulation--we just started him in daycare because we're both full time students. He's probably not getting enough time with us, but it's usually because we're both exhausted by the end of the day when we pick him up and his only desire is to run around and be super active constantly. We live in an apartment near Phoenix, AZ and it's super hot outside so we don't have a) much room for running around or b) safe weather to run in. But he's also been pretty intense since the day he was born. We've always had one sleep issue or another, and he has always been more physically advanced than verbal. He's pretty intent on learning every physical skill possible--he recently taught himself how to swim because he was sick of using a floaty. Which, I'm proud of him, but it also makes him really strong and capable while fighting me on things so that increases the challenges I have when I'm trying to physically remove him from a damaging situation. I have resorted to spanking several times to get him to stop kicking me or going crazy on me, and I HATE that. I know it doesn't work long term, and I don't want him seeing me as a source of physical pain and I just hate the whole concept of spanking as a whole. So add a heaping helping of guilt to the mess.
I recently read Bringing Up Bebe, and I really loved it. While I don't agree with every aspect of French parenting, the description of how children *happily* allow their parents adult time and behave themselves at the dinner table without threats, screaming fights, bribes, cajoling, or emotional scarring, really caught my attention. I want so badly to have that for our family--firm boundaries, freedom, calm, loving correction and guidance. Instead I have self-doubt, screaming fights, exhaustion, and frayed nerves. And DS has stress, bad patterns, and anger management issues that will only get worse if I can't get a handle on things.
I love reading, and will research this to death, but if anyone has good ideas or reviews of the best books out there that could help with this specific age (Happiest Toddler on the Block was extremely useless to me, if that helps), I would be eternally grateful.