These days, I wonder - Are all parents this terrified of their children?
Because these days, I walk on eggshells around Ads.
We managed to breeze quite happily through the terrible twos. But the tiresome threes hit us without warning.
My daily objective - get through the day without any major meltdowns or tantrums. Our baseline for appropriate behaviour has been so low for the last several months that a day which we can end with just a couple of tantrums and just 5-10 instances of rude behaviour counts as a "good" day. With an infant to care for, I have little energy left to enforce discipline - not that I used to do much of that even before Y's arrival.
I've always parented by instinct. I read some child development tomes and lots of stuff on the Internet and listened earnestly to more experienced parents dishing out advice. But I've always believed that you know your child best and you should do what feels right and what works best for the family. My model has always been - explain and reason with your child and he will understand and (hopefully) cooperate. This worked pretty well for us as long as Ads was a malleable toddler. As he grew older, he began to question and test his limits and in doing so, exposed all the many glaring shortcomings of my non-method of discipline. Ever since I got pregnant, we allowed him a lot of slack and this has now backfired on us.
The slightest scolding or admonition now sets him off and we have to deal with tears and worse. In addition, he has become manipulative. He sets S and me against one another and plays on the affections of grandparents. He clings to them and is extra-nice when he wants them to do something for him, but ignores them or is rude when he doesn't need them. I dislike this kind of emotional blackmail and manipulative behaviour and sadly, I don't think that this is just a passing phase. He is highly intelligent and understands the consequences of his behaviour very well.
I have now started enforcing some dos and donts and I notice that being strict actually works, as opposed to being nice and reasonable. I turn my heart into stone and allow him to scream and cry, his little body racked with heart-rending sobs, until he does as he is told.
Sometimes you have to stop being their best friend and just be a parent.