I wrote in another thread recently that my 3.5 year old DD is "struggling with authority." Now it seems like we are struggling with EVERYTHING, and I am completely overwhelmed. I need help. Big time. I'll try to make a list of the many issues we're having and the ways I've tried dealing with them:
1. She's having gigantic meltdowns All. THE. TIME. The second I say no to her about anything, even if I offer alternatives or choices, she starts crying and hyperventilating and flinging herself around - the works. It lasts for a loooong time. She'll spew out really dramatic statements, like "You CAN'T put away my clothes!!! If you put it away, I won't EVER be able to play anything every AGAIN!!!! If I can't have cereal, I will climb up on the counter and get it for my SELF and then I'll have to run AWAY!!!!" You get the picture. I think she's probably spending, like, half of her waking ours freaking out about something. I try to stay calm through it, but the noise of it just irks me and at some point in the day I end up getting angry. I've tried telling her that she is welcome to freak out like that in the bedroom, but not in the rest of the house. She just says, "NO! I don't WANT to go in the bedroom!" And then we tack on an extra argument about that.
2. She doesn't want to do anything I ask her to do, no matter what. And if I enforce it, she freaks out, as above. I can generally get her to comply using the calm persistence method, but it takes a looooooong time, and more patience than I always have. This is where the authority issue comes into play. I'll say "It's tooth-brushing time." And she'll say, "No, I say it's NOT tooth brushing time. I say it's dance class time!!!" Or I'll say "Okay, your show is over, it's time to turn of the TV, just like we agreed." And she'll say, "NO! That's NOT ACCEPTABLE TO ME!!!!" Or "No, that's NOT the rule in my house!!!!" She's struggling against policies that we've had since her infancy, like no shoes on the bed, or washing hands after she eats. I didn't even think of these things as rules until these struggles started. Now they're cropping up all throughout our day.
3. Constant negotiation. If she's not fighting me, she's bartering or negotiating. If I tell her it's time to get in the car, she might say okay, but then add a bunch of stuff she needs to do first, like "I need to bring my baby." Here's your sneakers. "I want my WATER shoes (has to take off socks)." Then she has to buckle her babies into the car in a particular way, etc. Everything takes forever, and, as a result, I feel like we NEVER get to do anything anymore. It takes us from 7:30 a.m. until 10:30 to get ready to get out of the house (that includes a lot of my morning chores and whatnot). By 10:30, it's almost time for us to have lunch, and we've missed all the preschool activities, and I'm so frazzled I just want to sit and bury my head.
4. I feel like I am lecturing all. day. long. I guess because she pushes me for explanations. And when she pushes, I give them to her, and they involve a lot of "People don't like it when you treat them like ______," "I can hear that you want to make some decisions for yourself, but I can't talk about things with you if you're going to freak out everytime things don't go your way." Sometimes I can't stop myself. She pushes, I keep talking. Ugh. I hate talking. It's awful.
5. I feel like she's always doing something that I need to correct. She always has her hair in her mouth, and I think it's disgusting. I have some REAL ick issues with saliva that I don't think I can get over, and she's constantly licking her self, sucking her hair, sucking her fingers, etc. while expecting to be close to me. It's gross. Spreads germs, and just...yuck. So, that's one big thing I'm always correcting. She always forgets to keep her hands out of her crotch. So that. She's constantly tipping back her chair during meal. And she has this habit of adding assumptions to anything I say, like "We're going to the store." "We're going to the store to buy BREAD?" "No." No, no, no. All day long.
6. I feel like she spends 80% of her time....compromised. In this weird mood in which I can't seem to get through to her. She elongates her words, talks funny, asks thoughtless questions, refuses to try anything, etc. I don't know if this mood means she's tired, hungry, lonely, understimulated, overstimulated, or what. All I know is that it happens a lot, and I just never feel like she's at her best.
7. She is so NOT independent compared to her peers. She would always rather not try. She gives up on hard things almost instantly, and as a result, there are many skills her friends have that I feel like she will NEVER have.
Okay, if you've made it through this whole saga, thank you. I'm guessing none of this is atypical for a child her age, but it's really wearing me down. I just feel confused, like even though my reactions are relatively consistent, they're not helping the problems to go away. So then I feel like everything I'm doing is probably wrong. Help, please! It's a disaster over here. And I have a cold :(