Hello. Our DD is 3.5 yrs old.
She is very smart, very verbal, pretty independent, usually fairly rule orientated, and usually a happy, pleasant and kind child. She is also pretty head-strong, stubborn, passionate, expressive and energetic.
Although she has always been a fairly "high needs" or spirited child, we have done pretty well in keeping her happy while at the same time keeping a balance in our family.
We have always practiced attachment parenting and more gentle discipline parenting styles. We go along with playful parenting much of the time, and it usually works. Although, the older she gets, the more work playful parenting is getting.
We have been very challenged by our DD behaviour over the past while.
She is testing the boundaries almost constantly. We have come up on a few power struggles lately. And we are at a loss of being able to deal with it. We have struggled with being gentle, playful etc. It seems like it doesn't really work so much anymore.
We have found ourselves trying to bribe, threaten, find natural consequences, etc.
Being playful doesn't seem to help, being gentle isn't working. Nothing is working well for us right now and the whole family is a lot less happy. We find ourselves in a struggle daily with this child and it doesn't feel good for anyone.
She is 3.5 yrs old.
We had twins 1 month ago. So she went from being only child to two newborns. Plus, with a twin pregnancy, it has been more than a month with her having less involved mother. Physically anyways.
She goes to pre-school. And so I believe she has learned that there is possibilities to acting other ways. And she is testing some of those ways out. She tests out on us behaviours that some of the other kids have that are discouraged by the teachers. Although, at school she follows all rules. She is very rule orientated.
Some of the things that she has been doing:
A little hitting at kicking. Although this was a big problem a few months ago. It seems to be minimal now.
She fights brushing her teeth almost every.single,time. She never used to do this. And doesn't particularlly even dislike it. I think she has chosen this for the thing to have a power struggle about. We refuse for her to not brush her teeth. She has some tooth decay that we are working hard at trying to slow down or reverse, so not brushing her teeth is not an option.
She fights getting ready in the morning or for anything really.
Basically she fights anything. We know it is a way to struggle with us. To gain some independence. To fight boundaries, etc.
What we do:
We do a heck of a lot of singing. I find making up a song and singing or playing or getting one of her stuffed animals to do things works. Using a stop watch an racing or timing how long it tkes her to get dressed etc sometimes works.
We do some threatening. Like, if you do not get ready for school there will ot be any time to do advent calendar before you go. This rarely works. She doesn't really care. She is more invested in the struggle than she is anything that we may not let her do/have.
We started a star chart for her. She gets a star on it for brushing her teeth, getting ready, cleaning up toys, or just happy faces when we are happy with her behaviour. Although she enjoys getting a star, and has always enjoyed when we have told her we are impressed with how well she did something...it doesn't even minimize the daily struggles.
She seems most invested in the struggle than anything else.
We have always given her choice and leaway in helping to make "the rules".
We give her lots of time in the morning to do her thing. We don't rush her out the door.
We give her choice in foods to eat and how much she eats before she determines she is satisfied
We spend lots of time with her. Although sometimes she has to wait for the babies needs to be met, we make a point of making the babies wait for her needs to be met.
It seems like she just needs to struggle with us. Even though it drives us crazy, we are thinking that maybe we just need to let her do so. That we need to rethink what are the things worth fighting for/about and let everything else go.
But we do worry we will be creating a monster. That she will feel like we have given in and so up the ante to get a rise from us.
Is this just what being three is about?
Will it end?
Are we making it worst?
Should we hunker down and win these battles?
Should we give in and let her win the battles?