Lila is now 3 years old and beginning to display some of the habits Ethan started at the same age. She's stalling about everything: bedtime, nap time, eating, taking a bath, etc. She thinks everything is a negotiation and when told no she keeps pressing forward to try to get her way.
In the past, I have given her too many options and let her get away with it taking 30 minutes to get her to do what she should've done on the first try.
Today started out great. The kids and I played, did some art, played with playdoh, put together a race car track and a remote controlled skateboard. I've been working on spending at least 15 minutes out of every hour on the floor playing with them. I've noticed that when I can do that they fight less and we all yell less.
This afternoon was a different story. Ethan, who typically is not very good at taking direction was occupied in the front room. When I told Lila it was time to go to bed she immediately screamed, "5 minutes!!!" Not exactly the best way to start out nap time. I gave her 5 minutes to finish coloring but after her time was up I started putting everything away. She complied hesitantly and we headed to her room. Little did I know that it would take an hour to get her to stay in her bed.
She wandered around her room for a few minutes as I told her it was time for bed. She dawdled around picking up her babies and making a cup of tea in her kitchen. I told her again it was time for bed and that she needed to get into bed. This is where it got interesting. She started screaming, "No!" over and over again. Everything I said was met with a "No!" We spent close to an hour with me telling her, "if you don't get into bed you will lose ____." She's always up for a good challenge so she continued with the no's. Finally she gave up after some cuddles from me and a quick "I love you" with no buts she climbed into bed and went to sleep.
In the process she lost her play kitchen for a few days, her water cup because she'd told me she didn't want water and then ran out to get it. She's constantly changing her mind when she makes decisions. "I want mommy. No, I want daddy. I want mommy!" She wants things to happen on her terms, much like someone else I know named Ethan.
About halfway through getting ready for nap time I realized I was calm and firm and it felt good to be taking charge. I know I have a long way to go before I'm super mom, but today even though it took me an hour to get her to stay in bed she is going to begin to know that mom isn't going to put up with it anymore.
I think she needs the stability of knowing what the rules are and we all do better when we know what the expectations are. I'm going to try really hard to be more consistent and firm.
Parenting is not for the faint of heart. It's the hardest job I've ever had. When you first come home with your baby you think that first year will be the hardest of all, but then your children grow into the next phase of life and things change. Things aren't necessarily harder, but different. Just when you think you've got this parenting gig down it goes and changes on you.
So the challenge is on. My kids are going to get my full attention for at least fifteen minutes out of every hour. In that time I will get off my computer, my phone and checking things off my to do list. I will remain calm because if I'm calm they will hopefully match my calmness. I will try not to yell but to say what I need to in a quiet and firm voice. I will only give 2-3 options instead of open ended options.