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Am i too strict or is this okay disciplining my toddler? i know it's long but i really need another mom's prespective

DS will be 4 in september. he is our only child so he gets all our attention. i wouldn't call him spoiled, but he sure is strong willed. yes, often times extremely stubborn. my DH complains i'm too hard on him at times. he's the soft one, so i assumed i gotta be the one to discipline.
DS is kind of a child who doesn't listen the first time you tell him not to do something. gets his way done. he's one of those kids you see in the store who's kicking and throwing a tantrum in the store (on the floor!) when their mommy tells them she can't buy them candy/sweets/icecream. he doesn't do it every time when i tell him he can't have whatever he's asking for but once in a while he will.
so just to break his habit i sometimes would say no where my husband thinks it's okay to let him have what's he's asking for. i believe that's spoiling him more. agreeing with whatever he wants.
like today at dinner he won't eat his food. he's gotten into a new habit of keeping the bite in his mouth long enough till he gags it out. he has this favorite pair of pajamas. those one-piece bodysuits in fleece material and zip up from the front. so i got him 5 of these. they were great for winters but now the weather is getting warmer i was thinking about putting them away. but he throws a fit if i bring out any other kind of pajamas. there is this purple one which was his favorite. honestly i was getting sick of them. it's a battle getting him into school clothes in the morning because he wants to stay in his pajamas. and as soon as he returns from school, or anywhere else, he starts like a broken record "purple pajamas, purple pajamas purple pajamas"
so at the dinner table he did his gag-drama again. i knew he was doing it on purpose. he's been doing it for about a week now and i would let it go. but today i had had enough. i threatened to throw away his purple pajamas (which he was clutching to his chest, i promised he could wear it after he was done with dinner). he spit out his food again! i was so furious that i snatched the pajamas from him and threw the pajamas in the trash. sent him upstairs with dessert.
he was in tears but honestly i was too angry to care.
my husband came to me and told him that he was sobbing and hiccuping when he went up to cuddle with him and do the story time. he says i'm always too hard on him. but if i'm not he just does NOT listen. trust me i've tried everything!
so yes, i do need an unbiased advice. am i really too hard on him considering he's an EXTREMELY strong-willed child who actually does the opposite of what you ask him to do. requests and coaxing...forget about it!
what would you do if you were in my place? and this is not just about those Godforsaken pajamas! this happens everyday with everything!
any advice????

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Asked by cookie269 at 8:37 PM on Apr. 7, 2014 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 25 (22,244 Credits)
Answers (17)
  • I had one of those kids too and I learned two very important things: 1. Pick your battles. Things like him wearing jammies that you feel are too warm, too scrungy, whatever... Just let it go. He'll figure out that they too warm, etc on his own. In the meantime it comforts him and it's really not hurting anything. 2. Keep all discipline directly related to the misbehavior so he sees the connection between "I was naughty" to "now this happened". So when he messes with his food he's excused from the table until he can eat properly. He's young so if he's hungry later get his food out, and same rules apply. He'll figure it out. So it's not a question of being too hard just keeping it a learning experience

    Answer by Nimue930 at 8:46 PM on Apr. 7, 2014

  • The PJs would be gone. If he freaks that much about them. I do not believe in kids getting attached to things like that. I do not think you are to hard on him. I think your DH is to soft. You 2 need to be on the same page.

    Answer by louise2 at 8:46 PM on Apr. 7, 2014

  • 1. Tantrums. Do not give different reactions! I do agree he should not get everything he wants. You CAN tell him he gets to have ONE THING. And only that one thing.

    2. Don't get in a power struggle over the food. If that's what he wants to do, DO NOT give it a reaction. Ever. Let him do the spitting thing. When all the food is gone, he doesn't get more in replacement. He'll find it boring when you no longer react.

    3. Let him wear the pajamas at home. This is not a battle worth having. He can wear them till they don't fit any more. Doesn't matter what YOU are sick of here. But regular clothes for school are non-negotiable. THAT'S where you insist. You can tell him he can put the pajamas back on the second he gets home.

    I'm going to suggest you pick up 1-2-3 Magic by Thomas Phelan and BOTH of you follow it.

    Answer by gdiamante at 8:49 PM on Apr. 7, 2014

  • child throws a fit
    husband thinks it's okay to let him have what's he's asking for.

    this is why child still is throwing these fits
    if he gets his way 1 out of 20 times, it is worth it to the child to try the fit to see if this time is the 20th
    the fits works for him, it gets him what he wants at least some of the times

    Answer by fiatpax at 8:51 PM on Apr. 7, 2014

  • Nimue said exactly what I was thinking. I have a dd who is a year older, so this is all fresh in my mind. I would also add that your best asset is an even temper. Easier said than done, I know. Choosing to throw out the pj's as punishment was less helpful and likely a result of anger and frustration. Avoiding that by choosing a calmer, " no pjs until after dinner, leave the table until you will eat nicely" approach will keep you sane.

    Answer by tessiedawg at 8:54 PM on Apr. 7, 2014

  • You and dad need to be the same page and back up each other. Kids learn way too fast to play one parent against the other. Discuss issues together and agree how they will be handled.

    Answer by silverthreads at 8:56 PM on Apr. 7, 2014

  • fiatpax: DH doesn't say i'm being too hard on him infront of our son. infact he really never interferes when my son and i are having our battles. he knows that the discipline is my job. like if my son is asking for something and my husband knows i won't give it to him at that time, DS automatically goes to daddy. so my husband just tells him "go ask mommy, i'm not sure you're allowed to have it or not"

    Comment by cookie269 (original poster) at 8:56 PM on Apr. 7, 2014

  • DH would tell me later when our son is not around that i should take it down a couple of notches. but i can see everyone's point. he does needs to be disciplined, but i need to pick my battles.

    Comment by cookie269 (original poster) at 8:57 PM on Apr. 7, 2014

  • I believe it's important for limits to be about limits, not angry & not about control/force.
    For me limits are mostly protective (they are about protecting people or property, as well as honoring personal limits--such as something I'm just not willing to do or permit, even if it might be reasonable, or something that could/would happen at another time. Such as climbing on me, or playing with an item of mine.)
    I think it's important not to engage in battles over control the child appropriately "owns" (such as food.) I know that if you've already got a dynamic going around eating, it is really easy to feel like you "need" to force an issue. But I think it only reinforces the existing dynamic, and creates MORE of the ongoing issue. Plus it opens the door to impulsive emotional leverage!
    When control has become a "thing" around food/eating, I think it's important to address that fact by taking control OUT of the equation.

    Answer by girlwithC at 8:58 PM on Apr. 7, 2014

  • The same could be said of the pjs (pushing back makes it a "thing," a power struggle) and backing off (or picking your battles) addresses that.
    When it comes to getting dressed & he balks, that is when the limit comes in. If he must take off the pjs in order to get dressed for school, then that is your limit! Make room for his feelings about that (validate that he doesn't like it at all, he's really upset, he wants to keep wearing the pjs) and hold the limit. Don't bargain or coax, trying to end the tears with promises that he will wear the pjs when he gets home. Just acknowledge that he's so upset to have to change, and kindly hold the limit that he must. This will show him that his feelings are not too overwhelming for him or for you, and that he can get through disappointment & survive. (Also, that you can tolerate his emotions without needing to compensate him in some way, essentially acting like he "needs" to be rescued.)

    Answer by girlwithC at 9:08 PM on Apr. 7, 2014

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