Intense and willful (like mama)

…says “Want some plums?” five times, and each time I answer, “Yes, Daddy’s getting you some,” and she continues to reach for the bag they’re in… and when I’m not looking, her reaching knocks them over onto the floor.

…repeats things over and over when upset — during a timeout, when she doesn’t get the answer she wants, when she’s cranky (i.e. even when the answer IS what she wants). She can’t listen when she’s doing that — nothing can be done to help.

…can have a solid conversation about what you can do when you’re upset, frustrated, or angry, but is rarely able to keep herself from hitting, kicking, and scattering / throwing things.

…invites me to play cooking with her with the kitchen set and table in her room. She brings me a bowl of yogurt, a wooden skittle cookie in a cup, a plate of grapes, and a bottle of milk. After she prays, I start to pretend to drink, and she says No! Not yet! And can’t explain why. I explain that it’s okay — that I can eat my things the way I want, and she can eat hers the way she wants. She can’t even listen to me — just No! No! I eat my cookie, and grapes, and the same reaction. Nothing I do is acceptable to her.

I had to tell her I wasn’t enjoying playing this way, and I went to do something else. She was upset about that, too, of course.

I have to keep trusting Brazelton, Leach, other parents, my own intuitions — it won’t be like this forever; she WILL learn more impulse-control, her emotional and psychological maturity will catch up to her verbal ability — she’s NOT doomed to be a bully or an outcast or anything.


Edited to add:

It’s 9:33, an hour and a half after bedtime. Right now she’s lying in bed (I think) talking to herself, which I don’t mind too much. But every single night, she gets out of bed and plays with toys or stands under the drapes looking out the window. Sometimes seconds after we say goodnight and leave the room.

It’s not like she’s doing anything terrible, and it doesn’t SEEM to be making her crankier in the daytimes.

And yet! It’s just pure and utter willfulness — we want her in bed, and she knows that; we don’t mind if she talks and sings but don’t want her up playing or standing by the window, and she knows that; she runs and gets back in bed when she hears us coming to tell her to; she just doesn’t care.

And that’s kind of maddening.

But it’s not the hill I want to die on.

And yet…


5 thoughts on “Intense and willful (like mama)

  1. Perhaps because of her verbal ability you are attributing more maturity to her than she can actually handle. I found at three that you need to talk to them less and take action sooner. She does sound like she’s got your number…and of course that gets her lots of attention. Three year olds crave nonstop attention for sure.
    Hang in there.

  2. Jan,

    You’re right, we’ve had that temptation since she started talking, the temptation to think she’s more mature than she is. I have been trying to take immediate action with many things, like throwing toys, and going to her room as soon as I hear that she’s gotten down. I don’t even talk to her — just going to the door is enough to make her get back in bed — temporarily. I’ve contemplated removing all the toys from her room, but a) that seems drastic and b) there’s still the window, and her dresser (she can open the drawers). And I try to save the serious conversations for when she is calm and content — I don’t try to talk during tantrums.

  3. Ian has his willfull moments, too. Lately, his getting out of bed has been increasing again. What has worked for us is to give him a warning about the next time: “the next time you get out of bed, we’ll take away xxx (some current favorite toy).” He doesn’t like it, but it has worked. Only a couple of times, have we had to remove most of the stuff in his room. I’m not a fan of taking away all the toys, but a few key toys did it for us. The blankies (sacred ground) were only taken away once or twice.

    I do agree that even at Ian’s age (3 1/2), he’s not mature enough and wants to set his willfullness through. He does understand that if he doesn’t stay in bed he’ll loose “stuff.”

    Not that I’m an expert. But does that help?

  4. Dominique,

    Thanks! Taking one toy or two doesn’t often faze Amy, but it’s still a good idea. I don’t think I could ever take away a blankie.

    I think I need to have more playdates, too — maybe being around a few other kids more often would help.

  5. You know, it might (being around other kids). As much as I’m not a fan of putting kids in daycare, I sooooo appreciate the teachers at Ian and Zoe’s daycare. They go 3 days a week, so I can work pt. Ian has always been a very social and extremely active child. I really believe that the daycare has helped quite a bit – being around other kids his age keeps him stimulated. Of course, I’m not advocating that you do the same, but I know for Ian it has been a really good experience being around kids more often. [For Zoe, too, but she’s so laid back she’d enjoy anything. 😀 ]

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