Ages One to Three

Three-Year-Olds and Opposition


My 3-year-old has been very contrary for the last few weeks. I recognize that it’s just a phase and he will come out of it sometime. But it’s still hard not to lose patience with him when his response to everything is No! Example: Me, “Do you want cereal or eggs for breakfast?” Him, “No! I don’t want breakfast!” Me, “Cereal or eggs?” Him, “No! I said I don’t want breakfast!!” (He puts his hands on his hips, stomps foot.) Me, “Okay, Mama will pick.” E, “Nooo! I pick! I pick!” (He starts crying.) How do I get through this stage?


Oh yes, three is such an oppositional age!

I agree with not engaging the opposition. With my daughter, I either don’t give a choice and put out something I know she’ll eat, or I reflect her feelings and leave it at that.

I don’t try to convince, persuade, or manipulate her into agreeing with me. We simply go through our day and she is welcome to express her feelings. If she is rude or expresses herself immaturely, I teach her how to say something appropriately, but I don’t expect perfection. Now that she’s getting closer to four, she’s having more shining moments.

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