So, it has been a while since I last posted - I think I started this thread a month ago when things felt they could not get worse.
Since last posting, things have gotten so, so, so much better! It really affirms the thing I know, intellectually about parenting, but have so much trouble internalizing when things feel overwhelming - that so much of this child-rearing business is a stage and that this, too, shall pass.
So here is the update -
Temper tantrums, which used to occur multiple times (3 - 4) per day, now occur 4 - 6 times per week. And they seem to have lost their intensity - 45 minute ones have been replaced by 3 - 4 minute ones where she very quickly blows her anger out and begs me to hold her ("hold me!" has always signaled the end of a tantrum). She has more or less stopped saying hateful things. She has wildly branched out food-wise. She is now getting dressed on her own in long-sleeved shirts (under the beloved short-sleeved dresses). She no longer insists on only one pair of pajamas and happily is mixing up what she wears to bed. (To the PP who suggested I buy an extra set so one is always available, my own frugality has bitten me on the bottom in this case - her PJs all belonged to her older sister, and were thrift shop finds 6 years ago, so no dice there.)
IN short, this is a changed kiddo! Don't get me wrong - she is still MORE of everything - more intense, more loud, more energetic, more talkative, more thrill-seeking, more active, more quick to protest and to fuss than most kids. She is still very challenging and I feel I need to stay one step ahead of her much of the time. But the balance has really shifted and she is so much sunnier, so much less volatile. I am so grateful. I know it can easily shift back, but for now I am savoring this phase. To those still in it, remember, this too shall pass.
I just wanted to say a big thank you for the book recommendations. I've taken both out from the library and "Raising Your Spirited Child" in particular has really resonated with me. It describes my DS (and me, actually!) almost exactly. I am just about finished and will be having DH read it next. I can already see how helpful it will be.
I'm glad people have found those books helpful. They have been game changers for our family!
Glad it's getting better! I was going to suggest that we have found multiple short sleeve shirts a good compromise to the not wanting to wear sleeves. I have a 4.5yo DD who at one point bagged up all her long sleeved clothes and was headed out the door with them, telling me she was going to donate them. But she will wear 3-4 short sleeve shirts at the same time, which I figure is better than nothing.
Who said the twos were terrible?! I had terrible threes for both my children. Can totally relate, like so many of you - my 3 yo (turning 4 this month, signalling a change I hope!) daughter has the same sort of clothing drama as yours PennyRoo except hers is dresses *rolls eyes*. I have struck a deal with her for one day on, one day off and to my shame, I do sneak in things that look like dresses a couple of times in the week (longer shirts, "dress shirts" we call them!). I agree with the poster that talked about structure - I think if they know what to expect, there's a little less drama - they want to know that they have some control and so we need to find a way to give them some level of choice and keeping our sanity :-)
Good luck to all you wonderful mommies out there!