First, I want to acknowledge that you are right: kids go through stages, and this kind of thing is not abnormal and not a reflection on your son's character (and likely not even on your parenting). Breathe a sigh of relief.
Second, I hear you when you say you don't know what to do. I originally thought I'd type a big post full of tips, but I am realizing that there are books that will tell you the same tips and more, and they are worth the investment of time. My all-time favorite is Becoming the Parent You Want to Be
by Janis Keyser and Laura Davis. No matter what, it is really a must have. The book is in two parts. The first part is mainly on values clarification for parents. The second part is the practical part, and it convers many topics very specifically and with great examples. As someone mentioned, Dr. Sears also has a book out that I haven't read in full but have skimmed. It's called The Discipline Book
Though far more coercive (which many AP folks and even I bristle at), I do know a number of Mothering moms who have used adaptations or parts of 1-2-3 Magic
and Love and Logic
. The reason I mention them is I think they are particularly valuable for parents who are inexperienced with children and trying to make an escalated, out of control situation manageable. However, the standard recommendation for those seeking to parent without coercion is Unconditional Parenting
This thread actually has an even better forum than either Toddlers or Parenting, and that is the Gentle Discipline forum
. I bet you would really enjoy spending some time there, and I am sure you would not be the first to post about a tantruming three year old.
On a final note, I will share this. Sometimes as parents we need a reality check. I would tend to see what is happening for you in a very positive light, as hard as it may be. It is a chance to ask yourself what kind of parent you want to be, what kind of discipline framework and model you will choose, and where you want to set limits with your child (as well as where you would like to remain flexible). When my ds was just 17 months old, our six month old foster daughter arrived in our home. We had to set priorities with our children, and be more clear about values and limits than we ever had prior to that. Our expectations for ds actually increased...and you know what? He was able to meet much higher expectations than we'd previously dreamed. He proved to us, and more importantly to himself, that he was very capable
. Though I do sometimes wish ds had a longer time as an only child (of course, however, I'd never
in a million years give up dfd and the time we had with her so early in her life), ds and dfd have a strong relationship and have both benefited from being raised together. I think the clarification process we went through when all of the sudden, we couldn't devote every ounce of energy and pure joy and enthusiasm to ds and ds alone was actually a postive one in many ways. It gave us a focus, and also helped ds start to understand (to the extent it is developmentally possible) that others have needs too. Now he is (usually) the sweetest older brother ever!