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Contrary ds (nearly 3)... help me find the 'yes OK Mummy' button

(13 Posts)
JimmyMcNulty Wed 24-Jun-09 22:44:06

Some examples:

Me: "It's lunchtime!"
Ds: (looking horrified) "No! Not for me!"
Me: "OK don't eat it then." (calm, starting to take it away)
DS: "No! Don't take it away! (crying) I WANT lunch!" (eats)
- we do this every mealtime, every day without fail. This might not seem like a problem, since he ends up eating lunch, but he's been doing it for a good 6 months now and it's been slowly eroding my will to live.

He also often says things like "I like hitting people" (he isn't a hitter, never has been, but talks about it a lot), and "I like being sad". Today when I commented on the fact that it was sunny he said "No, I think it's raining." This kind of thing is pretty much his usual response to any statements I make.

There must be times when he agrees to something I say, but I can't think of any lately... He has a huge sense of humour, makes us laugh a lot and likes to pull our legs so I wonder if it's linked to that, but it is SO wearying when it's all the time.

Why is he doing it STILL, when he presumably isn't getting the reaction he's hoping for? Is there a better way of dealing with it than constantly calling his bluff?

(He also of course has tantrums when we have to do anything he really doesn't feel like doing, but I've always assumed that was what toddlers do anyway).

Any way of making this phase (please say it is just a phase) shorter? Am expecting ds2 in a month, feeling huge and tired and fully expecting my reserves of patience to disappear completely.

strawberryplanter Thu 25-Jun-09 01:30:26

I think you need to find some playmates for him as other little children love this type of banter. Is there a pre school you can enrol him in? Mums and toddler groups?

He's clearly bright and enjoying making language work for him. Why not try waiting until he's hungry before announcing lunchtime? Ie give him some control. What can he do for himself? As you have a baby coming,(congratulations!) things like getting shoes, clothes he can out on himself help enormously and boost esteem.

What are the roots of the tantrums? What are the triggers? How often does he go outside to play? Little boys need lots of outdoor exercise to tire them out.

It sounds as if you are exhausted so please try to call up some support and get your ds off your hands a bit more so that you can get some 'headspace'

cory Thu 25-Jun-09 09:20:36

ah, reminds me of my dd age 2

every statement of mine was greeted with the question: "how do you know? did you read it in the papers? did you read it in a book?"

funnily enough, she is now at secondary school and seems a lot more willing to accept that Mum might actually know something about life

the tantrums have stopped

but she is still somebody who loves playing with language and questions assumptions- at this age I find it very reassuring

she's not going to be a walkover for the first person who tries to persuade her to smoke skunk or go to bed with them

'how do you know' is not actually a bad attitude to take with you in life

JimmyMcNulty Thu 25-Jun-09 10:05:50

Thanks Strawberry
I think you are completely right about giving him some more control. He just wants to be the one to decide things. Though sometimes he insists 'I'm a baby' especially when it comes to things like taking shoes off etc and wants me to do it for him, or to feed him with a spoon.

We haven't long moved to a new area so he's not got so many friends very close by anymore. He's due to start pre-school in September and I'm hoping that will be great for him. Unfortunately in between all the groups seem to stop and I'm having the baby around that point.

I will try letting him decide when he wants to eat and see what happens... I can see him having breakfast then not eating till 4pm though (he's not a snacker either) as he just doesn't think of it. When he does eat it tends to be a lot, but he is thin as a rake. He gets a fair bit of outside exercise. The proper tantrums come when I have to make him do something he doesn't want to (like come with me to see the midwife instead of staying at home to play).

You're right about him enjoying language. He likes changing random words of songs to different ones and knowingly gives the wrong answers to questions as a kind of game. We had a hard time at the opticians lately as though he knows his numbers he kept saying the wrong ones and then laughing his head off hmm.

My parents and dh's are coming to stay at various times around when the baby is due (parents staying), so hopefully that will help.

JimmyMcNulty Thu 25-Jun-09 10:06:50

sorry thanks cory 2 (x-posted as didn't refresh the page!). That is encouraging!

SoupDragon Thu 25-Jun-09 10:07:22

It does exist and usually looks like this

JimmyMcNulty Thu 25-Jun-09 10:13:42

soupdragon grin

yes we used those at the start of potty training... Kind of worked except that he started demanding two, then three, for anything he produced. Then he started asking how many he would get if he did a poo, and what about a really big poo... and if he didn't like the answer we didn't get it in the potty.

SoupDragon Thu 25-Jun-09 10:25:06

Yes, DD was like that. At 2.7 she was apparently utterly clueless at potty training, then she asked to have her toy watering can filled up and I told her she could if she weed in her potty. She sighed, rolled her eyes, performed and then said "there you go. Now fill my water can up." From then on I realised it was a matter of "breaking her spirit" and I won that battle. I'd like to give you hope, but she's still <<ahem>> "spirited". I pick my battles, try not to react to some and let some go.

With your lunch example, I would serve lunch and then leave it there. When he says "no!" just say "well, it's there when you want it" and walk off with no fuss.

Apparently as a child my favourite way of responding to something my mother said was "But why mummy?" and would not accept anything she said without a full explanation.

Fennel Thu 25-Jun-09 10:30:39

Try asking questions it's harder to say no to. Such as:

Do you want lunch now or in five minutes?
Do you want cheese or peanut butter in your sandwich?

Obviously a 3yo can manage to say no to this too, but it fools a lot of them, for a while. Or distracts them a bit.

Or, for the lunch, if he says No, just say Ok, and you carry on eating. Don't take it away. let him decide whether he's eating it or not, but minimise the drama. If it gets tense try reading a book while you eat and while he thinks about eating - or chat to someone else.

Or, bribery. Works well with mine. IF you eat your lunch, then there might be pudding. etc. and then just don't care whether he eats or not. If you don't really care if they eat a particular meal, the pressure's off and it's harder for mealtimes to become a battle.

strawberryplanter Thu 25-Jun-09 11:02:20

Letting him choose what to eat is fine as long as there are some basic rules:
Lunch before pud!

My ds only eats his lunch under bribery (so I use the dessert as a reward!)

herbgarden Thu 25-Jun-09 20:00:38

My DS is 3 next month and difficult to handle. One thing I find re food is that I make sure he's really starving before lunch starts.....If he's had a snack too near lunchtime he's much less enthusiastic.......

WowOoo Thu 25-Jun-09 20:12:08

My ds is 3 and sounds very similar. Plus I have another on the way in a month too.grin

Mealtimes are very often like this. Even when I give him a choice he'll say NO. Or say that he wants something that we don't have on that day. Grr!

I bribe alot and just say he won't have energy to play with X so we won't go there/do that etc. the occassional 'oooh yummy' makes up for it.

Have been praising loads for being bit more independant - trying to brush own teeth, remove clothes, shoes, tidying up without me nagging and so on.
I get 'I can't do it, it's too easy/ bummy/purple' ???!

God,Give me strength...

KTNoo Thu 25-Jun-09 20:32:14

Not much advice but sympathy from me as my dd1 was just like that. I think we just plodded on through it tbh but it was very wearing. It was so hard even to play with her as she ended up so annoyed all the time, e.g. I would put Barbie's dress on but no that wasn't right, barbie wanted trousers etc etc.

dd2 (age 3) is now quite similar but I must have learned a few tricks over the years as I seem to take it all more calmly than I did with dd1.

I worried that dd1 would end up a miserable loner as she was so negative about everything, but she's now a lovely 8-year old who I think is approaching normal. She's still very pedantic though - "no to everything" has now moved on to finding faults in every statement either me or her siblings make. grin

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