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Toddler just testing waters... for now
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Q: My almost-3-year-old has started saying things to me that border on disrespectful. Overall, he’s a very obedient little boy who knows he’s not in control of our home. First, when I begin to do something, he will yell, “I will do it!” When it’s something he can do, fine, but if it’s not, then I just say, “No, mommy will do it” and that’s the end of it. He also tells me, probably 10 times a day, “No nap, Mommy! No nap!” When it’s naptime, however, he goes upstairs and gets in his little bed without a fight. Finally, when I tell him to do something, he’ll say, “Ummmm, no.” But then he turns right around and obeys. Should I make an issue of any of this?

A: Not unless you want to begin creating a problem where one does not currently exist. Concerning your son’s harmless little displays of chutzpah, your great-grandmother would have said, “Leave well enough alone,” and when it comes to children, your great-grandmother is my role model.
Older 2s and 3s are very imaginative and experimental. I’m thinking your son is simply experimenting with being oppositional and (at times) insolent, but in your most blessed case, it seems experimenting is as far as it’s going to go. If you respond to these declarations with consequences, you stand a good chance of making a mountain out of a molehill, in which case you may end up with a power struggle on your hands.
You’ve done a great job of responding very matter-of-factly to his pretend rebellion and preventing it from going further than pretend. Keep up the good work.

Rosemond, a family psychologist, answers questions at his Web site:
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