My nearly 3 year old DD is super smart, very verbal, curious, funny, loving and pretty darn adorable. She is also totally defiant - let me repeat TOTALLY DEFIANT. If I ask her to pick something up, she says no and walks out of the room. If I ask her to stop throwing food, she does it more to see the reaction. Seriously, I would pass out in shock if she ever did anything I asked without a battle of wills starting.
My husband and I are pretty sure we are handling this wrong, but not not sure how to deal with it. I negotiate, threaten (If you don't do X we won't be going to the park today) and spend a lot of time pleading. My husband bullies - he either puts her in time out (a complete waste of time and energy) or physically makes her do it.
I need a book that gives me concrete ideas of how to deal with this constructively. Every parenting book I've read talks about empathizing with her emotions, speaking to her like a caveman and controlling my temper. I try to do these things but I still feel like we are banging our heads against the wall. Does anyone have any book suggestions that would direct me to do X when she does Y?
So, my DD is not that defiant but she has her moments. Don't know if you have tried these already, but these have worked for me (in moments when negotiation or offering choices is not necessarily appropriate):
1) "Do X by the time I count to 5" (every now and then she can choose the number I count to, in non-urgent situations.) I have no idea why this works for us but it does. Kind of like a game.
2) If she doesn't want to do something I ask her to do (like pick up a toy) I remind her that I might not do something she wants me to do, like read her a story. Then follow through accordingly. Usually she picks up the toy; if she doesn't, I say no nicely the next time she asks me for something and remind her that she hasn't picked up her toy yet.
3) If it's something really important, I will say "If you don't do X, I will have to take away your dollies (favorite dollies but not comfort lovies). I only had to follow through once on this and now it always works. Bwahahaha. (More immediate for a kid who really lives in the now, rather than saying we won't go to the park.)
4) If it was something like throwing food on the floor on purpose after I asked her not to, I'd take the meal away and then ignore whatever screaming followed.
I would also recommend Positive Discipline for Preschoolers by Jane Nelson--some really good insights there about why kids make the choices they do and the feelings behind them. Look for the "mistaken behaviors" section/chart.
Hope that helps!
I am trying not to use a lot of threats or bribes because I feel like our goal is to teach our son to behave because he wants to (with the hopes that it means he will still do the right thing even if no one is watching when he's older). That isn't to say that we shield him from the consequences of his actions. It's a balancing act, like all of parenting!
With that said, I find this blog really useful
I find a lot of things she suggests to be very helpful with my little guy (who's 2.5 and seems to be getting more defiant every day!)
One of my favorite things right now is her suggestion not to confuse capable and able when it comes to doing tasks, and secondly, not to ask a child to do anything you aren't prepared to help them actually do. For example, many times our guy will pick up toys with us. Sometimes he won't, even when asked or directed. Then I take him by the hand and lead him over to the toy and sometimes even pick it up and put it in his hand and then walk him over to the toy's place (sometimes retrieving the toy from where he has put it on our way). Then once it's away, I say "next time you will pick it up and put it away yourself". The trick to this working (and it really seems to) is to stay emotionally neutral.