My Sweet Boy

Defiant Toddler

I had another post planned for today about my September wish list. But I couldn’t bring myself to put it together when all that’s on my mind is my little guy. (And don’t worry, that list will be coming tomorrow. I needed a mental escape from my parenthood struggles!)

I’ll warn you in advance that this post is a little all over the place. I can’t get my thoughts together and don’t even know exactly what advice I’m looking for, but here goes.

In the past 5 months, Lawson has given up his pacifier (or maybe I should say we took it away from him), potty trained, moved from Los Angeles to Denver, started sleeping in a big bed and started preschool. The first two changes were tough but short lived. He adjusted well to sleeping without a pacifier. Potty training was easier than I ever could have imagined. 

Ever since we left California in mid-July to spend a month on the east coast with Jim’s family and then arrived in Denver, it’s been a struggle. He refuses to take a nap, which turns my sweet boy into an aggressive, defiant toddler. 

At least 99% of the time, I think his actions are normal for an almost 3.5 year old that is becoming more independent and has gone through as many changes as he has. But then there is that other 1% when I wonder if he needs help that we can’t give him. 

It used to be that he pushed his limits every other or every two days. Now it’s from the moment he wakes up until he goes to bed at night. We can’t get him to listen at all. While it would be nice if he were more agreeable, what has us really concerned is when his safety is at stake. 

If he doesn’t want to leave the park, he’ll take off running across the parking lot. He rides his scooter in the middle of the street. It’s gotten so bad that I don’t like to take him anywhere, especially when I have Sybil with me too. How can I keep both of them safe? If I have to pick him up kicking and screaming and carry him to the car, what do I do with Sybil?

He also gets very aggressive with Sybil. The poor girl has had water sprayed in the face with a hose (to the point where she was crying hysterically) and been pushed and kicked. Oh, he also threw books at me when I was in the middle of changing her diaper the other day. Trying to shield us from flying books while also wiping her poop was really fun.

I know many kids his age no longer nap, but he’s seriously a different kid when he gets that extra sleep. At this point we’ll try anything though. So we’ve given up on naps for now and instead are trying an hour of quiet time each afternoon. He can sit in his room and read books until the time is up. The first day he made it 45 minutes with only a couple of escapes. 

I’m honestly at a loss how to help him. We’ve tried praising his positive actions, endless love and encouragement, time outs, giving him options, consequences. Nothing has worked. Time outs don’t work because he’ll just leave the room unless you physically hold the door closed, which doesn’t feel right to me. (No judgement if you’ve done this – I have too when I’m at a loss and frustrated.) 

If I take a step back and assume Lawson’s behavior is normal for his age, I think it’s less about him than it is how we react to it. I want to be the loving mother that sets boundaries, but lets her kids be kids with all their joys and frustrations.

But how do I keep from getting frustrated?? I’ve cried at least once a day for the past week. Not to mention feeling like a terrible mother for getting frustrated and yelling.

This is probably a phase, just like the many other phases that children go through. The terrible twos have nothing on three years old for this guy though!

If you’ve gone through something similar, is this normal? Do you have any tips or advice to help all of us through this period?


photo by Nicki Sebastian photography

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