Independent 3 Year Old

I have a 3+ year old boy. He has always been very independent...wanting to do everything by "myself!". On the contrary, there are also multiple times a day when he wants ME (and noone else-not even Daddy) to do the most simple task for him. For example, he may drop a toy in the tub and then say, "mommy pick it up!" when it is right in front of him. Or he won't finish eating his food until I spoon feed him, which he can clearly do himself other times. One time, he threw a ball in the neighbor's yard and the neighbor brought it back to him but he wouldn't accept it unless I went back and got it for him where it landed. I most often refuse and stay strong until he'll give in and do it, which usually turns into a big battle, but then there are times in public or in a hurry where I just do it for him to avoid conflict. I feel like he is trying to control me. How would you recommend I handle these situations and do you think there is a reason for his doing this?

Reason 1: Well, if you have given in, then it almost becomes a game. A child's thought could be something like - she did it once, so if I ask long enough she'll do it again.

Reason 2: And the other big one - attention. Sometimes, even if they really have all the attention in the world, they aren't sure - especially around other people (which is what it sounds like is happening).

Solution 1: I feel like it is a phase that will pass - so its more about enduring or getting through it. So, I would just totally give in - end the game. Everytime. Just do it. But, you don't want to feel like your three year old has the one up. So, what if you tried to get the last word (so that you feel like you are teaching him something). In other words, switch tactics.

So, when he asks you to do something respond like this, "When you ask me so kindly it makes me really happy to help you." And if its asked in more of a whine, then I would repeat his sentence exactly with a kind tone and add a please. Usually a child will repeat. If he doesn't. Still, say somthing like, "I really love the word please." And then help him.

Solution 2: I would seriously feed him everytime he asks for about 5 days. And then, once you have switched tactics, start trying to work on it from a different angle. So, with the food, when he is eating by himself be sure to say something like, "Wow, are you a four year old? You are sure using your fork like a big four year old. You must be four." Or something that resembles genuine praise. Then, when he asks to be fed - make sure it isn't any fun. Just do it really absent mindedly - in fact, get on the phone or something. The message being, you will get more attention from me for your good behavior.


Ann said...

i love your suggestions! they are creative and innovative-always an idea i hadn't thought of. i really appreciate your advice on everything!

kate Brown said...

You are absolutely a life-saver! Thanks so much for answering my question. I cannot wait to try these ideas and I think you nailed the problem/solution on the head. I'll let you know how they work!