Tuesday, July 31, 2012

combating the three year old stubborn

and other seemingly ridiculous attempts at parenting a threenager.

It appears that the age of three leaves these smart little creatures stuck somewhere between the ability to reason and the ability to do whatever their parents say. What is that called again… oh ya, free will!

Which leaves the parents somewhere between wanting to give their child the independence they crave and the need to guide them to make appropriate decisions (i.e. not wearing a sweatshirt when its 90 degrees outside or insisting they bathe).  Or it leaves these parents stuck there.

But we have pretty reasonable expectations of her, that she is well aware of. pick up after yourself, no whining and be respectful. We always give G choices – you can have a or b – usually, it’s not an issue and she picks something.  Except when she doesn’t. Then! Look out because she’s going down and taking you with her.

We attempt to pick our battles , as en example we know 9 out of 10 times she’s not going to eat her dinner, so we don’t make her – but she does have to sit with us at the table.  Sometimes it doesn’t really matter though – she wants what she wants and nothing else matters. No choice or discussion is going to make a difference.  Which is fine and I am assuming normal for her age.

But we are still struggling with her in a way.  We know she gets more frustrated when she is hungry and/or tired and there are a few things that we know will set her off (i.e. if her underwear are even a drop wet, she will lose her everlovingmind) so we are conscious of these things.  She is VERY vocal and articulate – but sometimes, she will literally just whine, whimper and cry about something that is bothering her, but won’t articulate what that thing is to us.  Some days, or sometimes several time a day, she just chooses not to listen (normal, I know) which tends to lead into a screeching, screaming rage over something ridiculous like asking her to put her shoes on the right feet.

More than anything though, I am struggling at figuring out how to help her learn how to handle her feelings and express them appropriately. it’s impossible to know most days what will set her off and when, which makes it hard to anticipate!

We are aware that we need to be more consistent with our initiation of discipline (i.e. counting to 3 or whatever) – she is always aware and we are consistent with her consequences – but getting there tends to be our issue.  And just figuring out how to get us all through this stage with our sanity, hair and eardrums intact is exhausting, quite frankly.

I know we aren’t the only parents to feel defeated by their stubborn preschooler, so feel free to provide any ass-vice you have on the topic.

I will say though – that she is still pretty much the funniest, most awesome girl I know.  Naturally.


PJ said...

Oh how I love the power of counting! I do it a lot with my 2nd graders and just started with my girls and it is awesome!

When do they start to rationalize? That is the hard part for me!

Also I think sometimes a choice is great but maybe the old, "because I said so, I'm your mom, I know what's best" should suffice. Old school - haha!

I don't know. Discipline is HARD! I have all of this experience and education and some days they get to me.

Rotten said...

OK, here's my ass-vice for you. I am reading a Siblings Without Rivalry right now and while her sibling is still on the way, I think some of what I have been reading might help your 3 year old as it is helping mine. The biggest thing is to validate what they are feeling. After you have counted to calm yourself down, you being with "I know how frustrating this must be for you...." or "I understand how this must upset you...." and so on. From what C is teaching me, 3 year olds are on that delicate cusp of still being mommy's little girl as well as little Mrs. Independent. They are testing their boundaries and pushing buttons to see how far they can get. It's ridiculously frustrating for us as parents because we just want what is best for them and when they don't want to play by the rules, you just want to scream. We have a marble jar in our house that we use for "listening" "being kind to B" "being helpful to mommy & daddy" and "pooping and peeing in the potty." It's brilliant. The more marbles you get, the more rewards you get. The more sass you give the more marbles come out of the jar. :)

Anyway, thats my thought as I sit here and attempt to raise a well behaved and thoughtful 3 year old of my own. Good luck and hold tight... it's only going to get bumpier from here on out.

alison said...

She is the most hilarious and beautiful 3yo girl I know, for reals.

We have the same problem with The Whining For No Reason, and The Refusal To Eat Supper, etc. Now that Jude is old enough to know what's going on and mimic, we're trying desperately hard to not have B teaching j that he can get away with bad behavior. As soon as the whining start ("but I don't yiiiiiike mashed potataaaaotes") then we get down to his level and say "I'm sorry, but you do like them, you've had them before. You can either sit at the table and be kind, or you can wait in your room while we eat supper." Usually he'll choose the table, but every so often, he chooses his room, and that's fine with me, it's his choice. My boys' particular brand of whining is worse when their blood sugar is low - so they might split a pack of fruit snacks as we get supper ready (snacks before supper, the horror!) but it makes a world of difference for us. It will get better, promise. She will be the feistiest, most independent woman - and we'll all be so proud of her AND you as her parents.

JJ said...

Aint 3 grand?! Yea...I can relate over here - I love this age, but Im also finding it really difficult to parent this age. Misery loves company right? The whiny mood swings are so tough! Hope we have more sweet 3 than grizzly 3 days!