From the Mommy Files…

3 year-old vs. Mom

Posted on: June 1, 2010

It’s the Battle of Wills.

Moms, you know what I’m talking about. Your preschooler is learning to be more independent and tests the limits whenever possible. In our house, the 3 year-old tests us in waves; we’ll have a rough week, and then she’s fine for a while. Just when we get too comfortable and think we’re over it, she’ll try another test. It’s kind of like the jealousy thing – it creeps back up on us when we least expect it.

BooBoo is learning new things; she’s incredibly smart and full of energy. She wants to do things on her own timetable. I love her inquisitiveness and her curiosity. She’s a quick learner. In fact, sometimes I forget that she’s only 3, and I expect more from her. I have to remind myself that she’s still little.

It’s been a trying few days at our house. School ended a few days ago, and I’m sure Boo is wondering, “What now?” So did this really shake up her world? I say this because ever since, she’s waged a new battle of wills. She is openly defiant.

I’ve read that I should take her head in my hands and make sure she’s looking at me. Repeat my request, then ask her to say it back to me, so I know she heard me and understands. You know what? This little one laughs in my face. I ask again, and then I tell her she will go to her room if she doesn’t stop. She laughs again. So I take her up to her room, and sometimes I take away a favorite toy or doll. She screams like she’s in pain. (Mom is so mean! No, she doesn’t say it, but I’m waiting for it!) After about 10-15 minutes of that, she wears herself out and falls asleep.

I’ve thought that maybe she’s tired and just needs a nap. Nope. She’s back at it soon after getting some rest. So then we analyze if the Green-eyed Monster is back. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. We try to spend more time with her. We recently let her stay up late and watched some kid-friendly movies with her. This technique seems to backfire – I don’t know if it’s because she’s tired the next day or if she finds it a reward for her poor behavior.

We praise her whenever we can, and try to channel her energies positively. I ask her to draw pictures, since she loves to draw. This lasts for maybe 15 minutes, and she’s on to the next thing.

About now you shake your head, and ask yourself, “Who is this kid? She CAN’T be mine!” Well, yeah, she is. And we were all that age before, full of energy, without fear and driving our parents crazy. My mom used to say to us, when we were misbehaving, “I hope your kids are even worse!” I wasn’t a bad kid. So how did I get the curse too?

I don’t give up – I don’t let her see that I’m upset or that she’s bothering me. I tell her, it doesn’t matter to me if she spends the entire afternoon in her room; she’s the one that’s missing out. Doesn’t always work, but I continue. I know she’s trying to get a rise out of me. I won’t give her the satisfaction.

She’s basically a good kid, and I wonder, is she bored? Just flexing her muscles a bit, to see what she can do? And can’t do? Every parent goes through this. I had to laugh yesterday when we were driving in the car and she asked, “Will you have some wine when we get home?” It was so out of the blue. We aren’t big drinkers. Maybe she thought she was driving us to drink! Ha!

Alas, we continue the battle of wills. I won’t let her win. I have to stay firm, no matter what. We’ll remain consistent, and try not to lose our minds. Hey! Can we send her back and summon her return when she’s trained? Just kidding.

An article on BabyCenter.com called “Defiance, Why it Happens and What to Do About It” indicates that preschoolers are less dependent on us than when they were toddlers, because they have a “stronger and more secure identity.” There are some sound tips there, some that I am already employing – and that do work for us, at least in the short term. Perhaps I should congratulate myself on raising such a strong and secure child. I know as she grows, there will be different challenges, so I must stay strong and secure.

Is this about the time that our moms imposed the curse? I promise – I’m going to try really, really hard to break that cycle. I don’t want anyone else to have to deal with this frustrating phase of child rearing. I’ll keep wishing; until that time, we’ll continue to fight the good fight.

So, umm, Mom, do you think you could lift the curse now? I think I’ve earned the reprieve. God give me strength.

I’m going to win this war. I am Mom, hear me roar! 😉

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