Our 3.5 yo is starting to talk back to us in the typical futile yes/no/yes/no pattern of opposites. The other day it was hooking his straps on his car seat; I asked him to put his arms in (like we always do) and he said "no, arms out." no amount of reasoned conversation could change his mind, and everything you said resulted in a stronger repetition of "NO. OUT!" by the fourth iteration he was in total meltdown/tantrum mode... a wild 180 degree swing from the happy sunny disposition he had been in for the previous couple hours.
Some other pairs:
- "here's your snack, go sit at your chair at the table and eat it." ... "I go sit on soo-fah." (I don't even know where he learned "sofa", we call it a "couch". And we never eat anywhere near the couch, always at the table.)
- "ok, pick which book you want daddy to read to you." (at bed time, standard ritual.) ... "no, mommy reads."
- "put your coat on so we can go outside." ... "no, take OFF."
Now here's the rub. Several of these are just verbal... he's not following through with what he's saying, he's doing what we asked. (the eating at the table/sofa one is an exception... he did carry his snack over to the couch area.) For example, with the car seat one... as he's saying "No, arms OUT!" he's actively slipping the seat harness over his shoulder to put it on.
The part of this that really kills me is that we've recently learned he was being bullied at day care, some of the bigger kids knew he wouldn't fight back and wouldn't tattle, so when the teachers were distracted they were bossing him around and telling him he couldn't do this or that, whatever he was doing at the time. We've started to work on teaching him to stand up for himself in these situations and I really don't want to undermine that... but he seriously works himself up into a massive meltdown with these and I really want to bring a stop to them.