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3 year old struggling with authority

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I think the title about covers it. My 3.5 year old DD is having a really hard time lately understanding why things are not equal between us, that I am ultimately in charge. She seems to feel that she has no freedom, no voice, and that someone is constantly telling her what she can and can't do. We are far from an authoritarian household, but she's still fighting me tooth and nail in rebellion. Many times she's blaming me for laws of nature that just refuse to go her way. She asks me and I'm the one that tells her the bad news, so she blames the messenger. I feel like I'm handling her turmoil pretty patiently, but she just seems so sad and defeated that I really wish I knew how to help her. How can I help her feel more powerful? When will she start to have "the wisdom to know the difference" between things she can and cannot control?
post #2 of 6

Do you have an example of something that has set her off that is just the way it is? 

 

For me, having a phrase like "I don't expect you to like it. You don't have to like it. But it is the way it is," ( or ..."but you do have to do it." depending on circumstances) helps me for things like leaving a place when it's not a kid's idea of time to go, or bedtime, or similar.

 

I think it's appropriate for a child her age to have some control over what she wears (within reason),  sometimes how her hair is styled (as long as it's neat), what snack she gets (within options). 

post #3 of 6

You are mentioning 2 different issues here.  One that she doesn't accept that you are ultimately in charge, and 2 that she doesn't accept that you are not ultimately in charge for laws of nature.  

Since you didn't mention any examples of the issues you're having, I'll mention some that I've had with my kids.

It takes a long time for kids to figure out what you can save them from - like could you have saved that ice cream scoop from falling off the cone?  Well, no, you can't stop gravity, but maybe you could have pointed out that holding the cone horizontally would make the scoop fall off.  Could you have been (and should you have been) watching the child every second to save their ice cream?  Um, probably not, unless you want to drive yourself and them crazy :)  It seems that kids always want more autonomy until they get hurt and then it's mom's fault she let that happen to them :)  I do think kids need lots of autonomy to learn and make their mistakes and no "I told you so" from the parents...like if I tell my kid that he could get hurt by climbing while holding his car in his hand...if and when he does fall, I don't mention that I told him so... don't know if any of this is applicable to your situation...so ignore if not!

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Yes, I think there are two issues at play, but they're getting tied up with each other with the result that she feels I'm controlling her all the time. So, one moment she's furious that I'm enforcing our "wash hands after eating" rule (she can choose to wash by herself or have me wipe them); then she's furious that I won't let her put the tissues in the microwave; then she's furious that I won't give her some food that we don't have; and then I top it all off by telling her that her doll won't fit in the Duplo car. It's all the same to her.

She's also echoing many things I say, I.e. things I want her to do are "not acceptable", it's not tooth brushing time, it's dollhouse time, etc. She doesn't understand why when I say these things they "count," but when she says them, they don't count.
post #5 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by newmamalizzy View Post

Yes, I think there are two issues at play, but they're getting tied up with each other with the result that she feels I'm controlling her all the time. So, one moment she's furious that I'm enforcing our "wash hands after eating" rule (she can choose to wash by herself or have me wipe them); then she's furious that I won't let her put the tissues in the microwave; then she's furious that I won't give her some food that we don't have; and then I top it all off by telling her that her doll won't fit in the Duplo car. It's all the same to her.

She's also echoing many things I say, I.e. things I want her to do are "not acceptable", it's not tooth brushing time, it's dollhouse time, etc. She doesn't understand why when I say these things they "count," but when she says them, they don't count.

 

Hmmm...I guess you could ignore her trying to fit her doll into the Duplo car and let her find out for herself that it won't fit.  As far as the other stuff, what helped with my oldest when he was younger was showing him - "look how long your fingernails are and you have dirt under them" - this is something he could see, so he would agree to allow me to clip them.  Do you think it would help if you gave her more info?  Like, we're about to go to bed, let's get rid of the any food stuck in your mouth with this toothbrush.  Or "Oh, look we've got some food on our hands because we just finished lunch, let's wipe them so we don't get our toys dirty".  Some kids just need to have more understanding of the reasons behind the rules...and to me it's a bit of a test - if I can explain the rule, there's a reason for it, rather than I just do that because of a habit.  Sounds like your dd is a very smart girl who needs to know WHY she needs to do something... 

 

Oh and as far as the food that you don't have...my oldest used to do this too and still once in a while wants something that's impossible, that he knows is impossible but is very demanding for it.  What would help before, was to say, "well, I don't think we have it, should we look?" And allow him to confirm with his own eyes that in fact, Mom isn't hiding anything.  Now when he does it, it's usually because he's very upset about something else, and he just says it to vent.

post #6 of 6

I have found the phrase "you don't have to like it, but you have to do it" to be enormously useful. Kids can have feelings about the situation but that doesn't always influence the outcome. I offer examples of grown-ups also having do do things they don't enjoy as well, to show that the rule goes for everyone. I also tell him that as his mother it's my job to keep him safe and sometimes that means I get to just decide what's happening. 

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