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#1 of 11 Old 02-18-2009, 08:41 PM - Thread Starter
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My 36 month dd is a spirited child and has a mind of her own. She sometimes decides that she prefers me over my dh. I realize that this can be a normal stage but sometimes dd freaks out if she wants me to do something that I just can't be there to do.

This morning I was getting ready for work, and dressing my son for daycare. My dd decided that she wanted me to get her dressed not dad. Well when dh took her into her room to get her dressed, she lost it. She refused to let him change her. I looked in the bedroom and he had her pinned down with one leg while he put on her pants, I don't know how he managed to get her shirt on, but it didn't matter because he left the room when she was dressed only to come back five minutes later to find her dressed in her PJs again. I kind of half giggle now, retelling the story...

It bothered me to see my husband forcing my daughter to get dressed like that because I know what I feel like when I feel forced...I feel trapped and very uncomfortable... But I understand why he was doing it...we both had to be at work, and he was trying to help me.

My son who is 12 months also is a mommy suck so it is not like the situation would have been better switching kids.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how we can have our kids cooperate without physically forcing them to do it or is this something that comes along with parenting?

I find my husband "forcing" our dd to do things sometimes and I worry that it may turn into a major powerstruggle over everything one day...or am I crazy to think that arguing with a three year old could cause "bad blood"...

Thanks for any insight...

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#2 of 11 Old 02-18-2009, 08:58 PM
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That is a tough one, but my instinct is to say that forcing her cannot be good in the long term and will just create bigger problems. Not only in that it will create resentment and power struggles- I don't think, as you say, that it fosters a good mental/emotional situation to be forced into something by a bigger/stronger person, it's not a good feeling- but also, did it work? Did your dh, you, your dd feel good about the way things happened? Did she wind up wearing what she needed to wear at the end of it? (lol on that last one..) I don't have an easy alternative though. Is there a way, for example, to give her more choices- either daddy helps you, or you have to do it yourself? Or, you do this with mommy today, and daddy tomorrow- trade off somehow, to provide some consistency/stability? Not sure a three year old has that sense of time carrying over for that to work though.. if it is the same issues over and over, you could even make a chart, or let her know that you will help her do X every other day, or every weekend, so she knows when she can expect that? That said, it may be better to approach it in a way that would teach her to be flexible, as I am guessing you and your dh want to be able to trade off parenting tasks without a set schedule for each one.. Another option could be to try for natural/logical consequences- not sure to what extent you are willing to push it, but for example, if she is not willing to get dressed, then she goes in her pjs, or doesn't go? I don't know if any of this is useful, just sorta thinking aloud.. I have a few years until the toddler stage

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#3 of 11 Old 02-19-2009, 12:31 PM
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The PP had some good ideas. My fav would probably be to let her go in her pj's if she won't dress herself -- that's the best short term solution I can see. In all honesty, we've held them down a few times (think diaper changes!), I don't think you'll see much lasting damage from a 1 time occurrance.

I'm really laid back about clothes, though. Could you dress her in her "street" clothes the night before? There's no law about having to wear pj's... I actually heard/read about a psychiatrist having his daughter do that because she was too slow to dress in the morning.
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#4 of 11 Old 02-19-2009, 01:07 PM - Thread Starter
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I don't know if I could let my dd go to daycare or preschool in pjs...and she would!

I like the idea of giving her a choice to get dressed on her own though...we will have to try it...

Beacuse my daughter is so strong willed, we have had to wrestle her to the ground to get dressed many times (more dh than me)...It is hard sometimes because she has such a strong personality that she makes things so hard on herself...I have heard that these types of children can grow up to be very successful adults...I just want to raise her to be well behaved, but at the same time, to keep that "spark" alive in her...

Thanks again for your comments...
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#5 of 11 Old 02-19-2009, 01:53 PM
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I have a couple of additional thoughts...

Did he allow enough time for her to get dressed? My dh always procrastinates (and sometimes even I do to), and it's 10 times worse when you're running late.

Second, it sounds like a power struggle. At some point, whether she really wants to get dressed or not, she digs in her heels and refuses. At that point, the parent has already lost the battle, because even if you win, you lose, KWIM? Enlist her cooperation in any way you can, and try to avoid letting her know that it's more important to you than it is to her.

Letting her choose what to wear is an easy place to start, even if it's a choice between two options. Allow enough time for her to dress herself as well as she can. Depending on the child, this might mean, "as soon as I button your shirt, you can put on your fuzzy sweater!" Slip-on shoes are a must.

Show her how it's to her advantage to get it done. "Your friends are waiting for you at school... let's get going so you don' t miss out on playtime." "I bet your teacher will be surprised to find out that you put your socks on all by yourself this morning!" "What snack do you want to take to school today? Okay, then, let's get those clothes on so we can get it!" Then there's the non-bribe bribe: "After you get dressed, you can carry my purse to the car for me!"

In a pinch, I have put on the clothes OVER the pjs. I don't mean to sound like I have a formula for how to get the child dressed... it's a daily chess game when you've got a devious and independent LO.

Dawn - Mom to : Jack 11/04 and David 5/08
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#6 of 11 Old 02-19-2009, 03:17 PM
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At that age that is a struggle I just wouldn't get into. I'd let her wear her PJs to school. Just tell her teachers as you drop her off that she chose to not get dressed on time to leave for school and that she has a change of clothes in her bag when she is ready (I'd say it in front of her and include her in the conversation so she's knows that when she is ready she can change herself).

Our son's Montessori school has no trouble with kids coming in PJs or miss matched clothing - the child is in control of their dressing and will eventually figure it out.

I'd bet after a few days, with plenty of set up time (picking out her clothes the night before, having them ready for her to put on herself, and plenty of time to get herself dressed) she'll get into the swing of it pretty quick. I'd simply tell her she can handle it. When I tell my son I know he can do something (in a supportive way, not a told-you-so way, just to clarify since you can't "hear" how I'm saying it) he will either jump right in and try it or he will dig in his heals and take a few more times before trying it. Either way, he eventually gets it.

When my son reached that age we would not physically "fight" him on things, we didn't want him to learn that might means right (unless, of course, he was in danger).

Because she is so strong willed she can grow into a very productive adult but if you challenge her at every turn it might backfire. My son is pretty strong willed, too, and we have learned to pick our battles. If it involves personal or property damage we will step in but if it means he goes out in non-matching shoes or doesn't want to brush an awful head of bed hair or doesn't want to eat at the moment we are eating we don't battle over it.

The best lesson we've learned as parents is to ask ourselves why something upsets us. If we stop and analyze why his behavior pushes our buttons we usually figure out that it is because of something that happened to us when we were little (or it reminds us of someone else) and our fear/anger take over. When we're able to let go of our past "issues" and simply look at him and try and figure out why he is acting that way we are able to stay calm and meet him where he is. It's really helpful.

Best wishes - it's a tough one and I hope you find a solution that works for the whole family.
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#7 of 11 Old 02-21-2009, 12:32 AM - Thread Starter
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You both had some very good points...

...and it definately is a power struggle!

I'm going to reconsider the pjs to school may work...
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#8 of 11 Old 02-21-2009, 12:39 AM
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There are certain times that merit 'forcing'. I have forced DD on different occasions to wear something or buckled her seatbelt while she was crying hysterically. It's one of those 'pick your battles' kinda situations for me.

Momma to DD (12/04) hearts.gif and DS (11/09) hbac.gif.
I survived 16 mos! Ask me about breastfeeding a baby with posterior tongue tie, high palate, and weak oral motor skills- whew!

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#9 of 11 Old 02-21-2009, 02:02 AM
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Let her wear cute sweat pant outfits to bed. Then all you have to do is check her face before school.
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#10 of 11 Old 02-21-2009, 09:13 AM
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Knowing that they're both mom-centred (it can be overwhelming at times, even with just one) try working with that. What about getting DH to do all the 'extra' stuff (lunches, getting things together, loading car, etc.) while you do all the kid and yourself stuff.

...that said, I couldn't trust DH to remember everything I needed for the day (especially since I seem to leave a trail of random things in random places) it helps to do as much ahead of time as well. And I always dressed DS in what he was going to wear the next day when he was in daycare- then it was just a quick potty and off we go!

Laurie, wife to guitar.gifDH (Aug/04), mom tobikenew.gifDS1 (Nov/05) and bfinfant.gifDS2 (June/12).


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#11 of 11 Old 02-21-2009, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by philomom View Post
Let her wear cute sweat pant outfits to bed. Then all you have to do is check her face before school.
Yes, let her sleep in her clothes. This is a battle you don't need to fight.



"If you find from your own experience that something is a fact and it contradicts what some authority has written down, then you must abandon the authority and base your reasoning on your own findings"~ Leonardo da Vinci

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