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My daughter who is now 3 1/2 years old is just driving me insane. Everything is a fight bc she dosent want to anything this way or that way its got to be some sort of a twist created by her in order for her to want to do it.

Like right now she wants just choc cheerios for breakfast (okay its late but she has yet to eat at all today) I told her she can have a mix meaning choc cheerios, chex, kix, multi grain, etc she eats this mix all the time. She says no just a bowl of only choc so there she sits without any food bc she wont agree to what I offered her.

Its little things like this all the time now! This morning when she woke up & needed her diaper changed (yeah training her is impossible) I sat on the floor & asked her to come there she said no change me over here so I moved over to that spot then she cried that she wants to be in the first spot I was in. I told her no so I then had to wrestle her & she pushes me well time out for her it was.

I know this is normal but by golly it certainly does wear you down thats for sure! Just a rant I know many of you ladies are also going through the same exact things I am its simply her trying to have control over some things (not that she dosent often times get choices etc). Thanks for listening hope you all have a peaceful day with your headstrong toddler!


Asked by Mel30248 at 11:38 AM on Jun. 7, 2011 in Preschoolers (3-4)

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Answers (13)
  • Sorry, mama! It sounds to me like you have a pretty good girl overall and the power struggles in particular are really locking you up, making you feel manipulated, making you see her negatively. (Which makes sense, especially if at some level this feeling of being manipulated triggers fear, such as not knowing what to do to ensure a good outcome, worry about how the future will play out. Whenever we feel irritation, annoyance, anger, or any outward or "other" directed emotion, there generally are more vulnerable, painful feelings like fear or self-doubt underneath them. It is less threatening to self to feel the criticism & judgment of someone else than to feel the uncomfortable, threatening feelings.) So, your situation makes sense to me.
    Maybe you could explore some reflective listening with her, rather than tending to respond literally on the level of yes/no, allowing & agreeing or not. If you focus on the person & wishes

    Answer by girlwithC at 7:22 AM on Jun. 8, 2011

  • 3.5 is a rough age!! We are going through the same stuff with my daughter. She never threw a real tantrum till this age.

    I have no advice besides don't cave in to it. Discipline is still a must!

    Answer by anng.atlanta at 11:44 AM on Jun. 7, 2011

  • Meals- she eats what you want her to eat. Or nothing at all. she will eat, eventually. Everything else. She does it you way, Period.

    Answer by louise2 at 11:48 AM on Jun. 7, 2011

  • If a child is starving to death they will eat anything so telling her she gets nothing won't harm her. What do you do for punishment bc if you don't punish this will not stop I had a three yr. old I didn't punish half the time bc I thought he didn't know better and now he still does it at 4 1/2. I realized he was playing me when he had friends over and he was spitting out rules I have been trying to make him understand for 2 yrs. She is playing you. My son also has a whining problem and I was giving him time outs for 5 min. Yea that didn't work either. He doesn't like playing in his room and I would make him play in there for the rest of the day. Sounds mean to do it all day but he isn't hurt and the whining has dwendled to almost none.

    Answer by Kimkh at 12:33 PM on Jun. 7, 2011

  • Kimkh- 90% of the time I dont do a simple time out its straight to her room for the rest of the day & night she goes. Time outs dont usually have as much of an affect on her but if I need to go somewhere or be somewhere then a time out is better then nothing. Usually if its before 3pm she once calming herself down can come back out of her room but it usually takes her at least an hour before she gets herself all calmed down enough to come back out. She has certainly gone to bed at 3pm before though & stayed there the entire night & not come out until morning. She has books & toys in there plus has water etc so she is fine & if she screams she is hungry then she is given a bite to eat in her room.

    Shes simply stubborn & yes she is playing me but I dont believe in spanking, hitting or soap in the mouth. Counting does nothing. I do take away toys for two days if she did something bad with that toy.

    Comment by Mel30248 (original poster) at 7:54 PM on Jun. 7, 2011

  • (cont)
    rather than on the content of the request or demand, you can validate her (rather than simply engaging the validity or not of what she wants.) This simply means reflecting back to her or "mirroring," giving her understanding & acknowledgment. It's what we did with our babies, before they could talk: smiling back when they smiled, reflecting them back verbally ("Oh, you like that, don't you! That was fun/yummy/exciting!" or "Oh, you're feeling cold?" or "You just don't like this at all, do you?") Children need to be seen & understood; being understood & accepted as we are is the way all humans EXPERIENCE love, or experience themselves as BEING loved. It's what makes the connection between the love we feel for them & their actual experience of it. So being seen is a primary need (& that need isn't met when we are assessing or evaluating their expressions.) Reflective listening is a key way to avoid power struggles in the

    Answer by girlwithC at 12:47 PM on Jun. 8, 2011

  • first place, though most of us experience power struggles as inevitable with young children because we habitually relate in more disconnecting ways that inadvertently negate & invalidate kids, setting them up to struggle or to defend against the suggestion that they are not valid, that they are wrong simply for what they want & feel. When we mirror, our orientation is about staying in tune & really "getting" what the other person is communicating. Behind everything a child says & does is a feeling & a need, and even when we can't or won't grant a request we can validate what is behind it.
    In the situation you describe with the diaper change, this would mean instead of deciding whether you would/wouldn't go where she was indicating, you'd reflect back to her that she wanted you to go over there to do the diaper change. (She can give you feedback as to whether you got it or not.) Once you accommodated her & went over, but she

    Answer by girlwithC at 1:08 PM on Jun. 8, 2011

  • cried & wanted the first spot after all (I can totally understand how triggering this kind of thing is, btw!), rather than engaging the validity of the demand & deciding whether or not you'd accommodate her this time & responding about THAT, if you are oriented toward reflective listening you would acknowledge her upset (you can reflect by literally describing what you notice, that she's tense, red, yelling, crying, holding her arms stiff with her hands in fists, whatever) and reflect that she wants to do the change in the other spot. You are not caught in giving her a "yes" OR a "no," and when it comes to that you already have given her the space & validation that HAVING her feelings & wanting those things & feeling mixed up is okay. Validation is not about agreeing, being glad that something is the way it is, or WANTING it this's about accepting it as the current reality & understanding how a person's feelings make

    Answer by girlwithC at 1:18 PM on Jun. 8, 2011

  • sense from their point of view. There is a kind of recognizing and allowing. This is about the person, not the demand or request, but often demands escalate & struggles ensue because when we simply respond with a yes or no (the "yes" responses are no problem, obviously; it is the "no" that introduces conflict) we are, by default, denying kids validity routinely & often. This creates emotional baggage.
    The longer your history of responding reflectively, the less "excess" frustration your child is carrying (from being negated/invalidated ON TOP OF not getting what she wants at times) so that her feelings in the moment are just related to the trigger--grief, sadness, disappointment about the thing at hand. The more you can accept that her feelings make sense, can allow them without punishing or trying to stop them, the more likely they will be temporary & even fleeting things: feelings that flow through her & then change. She'll

    Answer by girlwithC at 1:54 PM on Jun. 8, 2011

  • be able to feel frustration, anger, sadness, disappointment, express them fully, and then let them go. This is sometimes quick, and sometimes (once a child has gotten pretty baggage-free & isn't getting a lot of unintended negations on a routine basis) it doesn't even have to happen because the child accepts things without raging against the disappointment.
    I do tons of reflective listening, but even so I can forget (particularly when it's a statement or request that sets me up to answer, granting or denying it.) If I am not aware, I can slip into kindly letting the kid know why it's not possible right now, and I totally miss the opportunity to validate the child & the wish (and I set up a power struggle.) This dynamic of insisting & demanding often is NOT about the "thing" or the apparent object of the struggle, but more about defending her validity. If you can grant that (they aren't "wrong" for wanting ice cream, wanting TV

    Answer by girlwithC at 2:08 PM on Jun. 8, 2011