My son is 3 1/2 and extremely strong minded, opinionated and stubborn. I know that describes most 3 year olds but he just seems 'more'. My current disciplinary style isn't working, We are is constant battles. He wants to turn everything into a debate and always 'knows better'. I try to be calm, firm and consistent (but of course sometimes I yell and get exasperated). I try not to give in but at the same time give him choices and allow him to negotiate when possible ( he loves to suggest 'how about .....?). I think where I'm falling down is I try to make him do what I want by threatening consequences i.e. 'if you don't get in your car seat now the library will be closed'. He never does what he's told just because I said so. An example of this is the other day when we were waiting in line for a sleigh ride. He was playing on a mound of snow and I saw the sleigh coming so I called him over. He said 'I can't see it' and didn't come. DH had to fetch him. Anyway, now when he wants me to do something he tries to force me by threatening dire consequences. I try to disengage but he won't let me. He gets louder and louder if I ignore him. When I do anything he doesn't like he'll yell 'hey, that's not very nice'. I know I need to find a new tack but I'm not sure what. Redirection and distraction have never worked very well with him. I use time outs a bit but I'm not consistent. I also put him in his room if he is having a total meltdown but that's a last resort. He is also very sensitive and has some anxieties. He won't go upstairs on his own, doesn't want me to leave him at preschool, etc. He recently started sleeping in our bed again.
I think maybe I need to find a way to be more playful and work on our connection so he wants to do as I say but I don't know how to practically go about this. Any thoughts?
First off let me say that this is normal 3 y/o behavior so it's not like you are doing something "wrong":) At this age discipline is still more about "doing" rather than "telling". In other words if you say it's time to clean up and he just stands there you go get him and help him get started. Rather than focusing on him doing things "because you say so" focus on picking your battles and connecting with him. Playful Parenting is a great book for this age as it shows that when your child's "cup is full"(from being connected with you) and you use playfulness to diffuse tense situations, things become easier.
Cathy mom to 13 y/o DD, 10 y/o DD, 7 y/o DS