The Trouble with Three Years Olds

I wonder sometimes, how you can absolutely love and admire an individual’s personality trait that drive you insane at times.

Alena is… stubborn. She challenges me constantly. There’s never an easy ok Mommy to a request. At best, there’s a I have to do this first, at worst, it’s a resounding No! to any request I make. Including teling her to pee, to put her clothes in the laundry basket, to eat her dinner, you name it.

She’s stubborn (man! she’s stubborn) and strong willed and determined to do it (everything) (anything) on her own. Last night after we read a bedtime story in my bed, Leila obediently headed into her room while Alena continued to do “tricks” (AKA bounce and jump and roll around) on mine. It turns into a confrontation of us both digging in our heels, me dragging her to her own bed, often tears and punishments. It feels like no one wins. Sometimes it feels like I don’t know how to parent her.

I don’t want everything to turn into punishments or threats, but she refuses to do what I ask (anything! It doesn’t matter what it is) just to refuse. And so I use the only thing that works, that I know what to do If you don’t, then I’m going to take your bear, or not read you a story. It leaves me feeling sad and tired and frustrated because that’s not the type of mom I want to be.

Often I give her choices, (You can brush your teeth yourself or I will) but she drags her heels and doesn’t make a choice and then we’re back at square one.

Steve doesn’t have the same problem, she just listens to him.

She’s stubborn and head strong and independent and I love that so much about her. I am proud at how strong willed she is and I know it will serve her well in the years to come. But it really makes parenting a three year old difficult.

I’m not a dictator-style mom, and I want to meet her in the middle, I want to encourage her resolution, but her little three-year-old self won’t budge. And then, after she’s brought me to the edge of insanity, after I’ve raised my voice and told her she’ll get no story tonight, she lifts her sweet little face and smiles and her dark eyes glint love and happiness and mischievousness and all is not only forgiven, but forgotten, because that girl owns the string to my heart.

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