Friday, November 5, 2010

Three . . . It's the New Terrible Twos

I've heard that age two is when most children exhibit their unruliest behavior, but all of my daughters went through their toughest stage at age three. I experienced a particularly difficult patch with my youngest girl.

I've always lovingly referred to her as "independent," but I've come to realize that she is by far the most strong-willed of my four daughters. My experience in raising children amounts to a hill of beans when dealing with my youngest. What in the world was the point of raising my older kids if nothing I learned works with my baby? My usual arsenal of weapons, such as the stern look and the mean teacher's voice, are useless. Forget about time-outs or counting to one two THREE! She is so strong-willed that I made the mistake of Googling "oppositional," which led to my discovering "oppositional defiance disorder," which resulted in the subsequent taking to my bed in a state of despair.

My daughter is definitely oppositional, but after much reading about ODD, I am convinced that she does not suffer from that particular disorder. She's a contrary little thing, to be sure, but she's not hostile or violent or mean. She likes to be the boss, to control the situation, to make sure things are done her way or the highway, but she doesn't throw tantrums, freak out (too much) at her sisters, or deliberately hurt our pets. I'm not sure exactly where she gets her independent streak, but I'm starting to have my suspicions. The other day, I caught myself snatching something out of my husband's hands while snapping, "I can do it myself!"

Aha moment.

I realized that I am oppositional. Er, I mean strong-willed. Or is it independent? Whatever it is, I am it. My daughter seems to have inherited that particular trait from me. On one hand, I am very distressed about this revelation; on the other, I am relieved. When I see her pitching a fit, I am pierced through the heart at how childish my own argumentative nature must seem. At the same time, I now have better insight into her frustration and irritability when others try to tell her how to do things or, Heaven forbid, refuse her demands to let her do them by herself!

I don't know if she will learn from the mistakes I've made over the years because of my oppositional independent ways—that would involve actually listening to and valuing what her old fogey mother has to say, and that's not likely to happen until she's a grown adult with a strong-willed child of her own—but at least I know how to start praying for her. And myself. Patience, unconditional love, wisdom, and humility. Oh, and patience.

Dinner last night: chicken-veggie soup, cheese-garlic bread

Exactly one year ago:

Exactly two years ago:


Tara said...

I have a mostly strong-willed, independent 2.5 year old and got slightly sad when my OBGYN told me it usually lasts until about 3.5. Then before I walked out of his office, he told me he hoped the next time he saw me back, I was pregnant. This whole two year old stage plus potty training has made me re-think having baby #2.

I am exactly the same way though so I know where he gets it. My mom always told me that one day I would pay for my raising. I think she actually knew what she was talking about. I wouldn't trade him for the world though.

Unknown said...

contrary. That's a good word for my three year old. She doesn't have odd either, just a daddy who is thoroughly wrapped around her finger and gives her anything she wants. ANYTHING. I don't know who's pissing me off more, him or her.

Karen M. Peterson said...

See, this is why I don't have kids. Because I don't want to be smacked in the face with my own idiosyncrasies. :-)

Katherine said...

I definitely think that 3 is harder than 2. At age 2, they are still mostly babies and can be easily overpowered. 3 is a whole different ball of wax. I see many of my own personality traits (especially the ones I'm not that fond of) in my children.

Unknown said...

I thought three was a more difficult age than two with both my boys - sigh. But I also TOTALLY understand trying to raise a child that a bit too much like you! My youngest is me made over - God is laughing :)

Unknown said...

I think 2.5 is tough! Ask me in a year when I'm really in the brunt of it, but for now he is the decision maker of the household.

Anonymous said...

We also had much greater difficulty when they were three, but four thankfully is getting better! My kids are both very strong willed and when they start fighting with one another..... Oh boy, you better hang on because nobody is giving in!

Wonder where they get that from? LOL

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

I agree! The 3's are a TOUGH age, aren't they? Asher is a touch better at 4, but still stubborn as a mule! I think she is just fine. I have seen true ODD children, and it is NASTY stuff! She sounds like a little girl who knows what she wants!

motheroad said...

HOLY GUACAMOLE, BATMAN. I also have one of those children. She is our first child, and also our only child. Coincidence? I think not.

When I try to explain to the other parents - the parents of Naturally Compliant Children - what my daughter is like, they cock their heads to the side (somewhat condescendingly, I might add) and appear to disbelieve me.

Is is wrong to want to hurt these people?