My 3 year old son is really bright, has an amazingly long attention span, and can be loads of fun but lately he is fighting absolutely everything. It takes ages to get him dressed as he won't do it himself, but he will throw a tantrum if you do it for him. He was doing really well with potty training, having gone 6 days without a single accident, but now he's having several accidents every day. He ignores me and my wife like we're not there and we can talk at him all day to where you think he's not listening, but if we then say "well I guess you don't want x" after all suddenly he's rushing to cooperate.
I am doing my best to be patient and my strategy has been to let him do things himself as he has the skills and is motivated to do so. He can dress himself completely, and has no problem using the potty at all, he's very independent. He's using this independence to decide he's not going to do these things, but there are times that I simply cannot wait to let him do it on his own. Take dressing, I start the process 30 minutes before I have to be out the door, yet frequently I'm late because he simply refuses. I know it is for attention, I just don't know how to deal with it constructively - I have to get to work!
As for the potty training we started in May, and he just started anticipating in October. It was great, he was going to the potty on his own, we were doing things we couldn't do when he was in diapers, but then in the past week or two he's stopped all that and is now willfully going in his pants all the time. We've tried just ignoring him and telling him to change his clothes, we've tried all the strategies, but we've had to go back to reminding him every half an hour to go or he's wetting or messing himself at least 4-5 times per day.
I'm concerned that my wife and I are developing an adversarial relationship with him, and I don't know how to stop it. It's like an arms race, both sides keep upping the ante and the confrontations just get worse. Yet if we don't push him somehow we never get out of the house! Rewards don't seem to work, and I don't want to punish him as punishment seems like an empty strategy which is more about retribution than learning the right things. I can threaten to take his favorite toy away if he gets really bad, but that's not the type of father I want to be! I want to be a calm, measured dad who talks soft and is listened to, but I'm more and more often having to shout at him to get him to cooperate. It's getting to the point where I don't enjoy being with him.
Any suggestions on how to break this cycle? I want him to have a sense of independence, and I think his self confidence is great, but it has to be tempered with an understanding that there are some times when you have to do things even when you don't want to. I need his cooperation in getting dressed, and I need him to start using the potty instead of peeing himself all the time. And I want to do it in a way where I'm not having to come down on him all the time!