My nearly 3 year old son is developing very poor behaviours and both myself and my wife are really struggling to manage him. He can be the sweetest little angel when he wants to be but more often than not, at home especially, his behaviour is very bad. Some examples:
* Over the last year, he has developed a habit of not sleeping until at least midnight. We have tried everything including all lights out with the rest of the family sleeping in bed but he will still run amok until his energy is gone and then he will finally lie down and sleep quite quickly. Some nights it's been getting to 3am in the morning before he will sleep. His days are very active and full of activity. Monday-Friday he is in day-care 9am-5pm. So he is woken up at a regular time, has a regular routine and seldom naps for more than 1-1.5 hours during the day.
* At home his behaviour is getting very bad and oppositional to both of us. Any normal routines like eating dinner, brushing teeth, putting on clothes after a bath/shower turn into hour long battles where he refuses to cooperate. We've tried picking our times when to be strict and when to let things slide but that hasn't helped. I've tried being more firm but also not seeing results from that. I really don't want to smack him to get his attention but have resorted to that 3-5 times now when he's been aggressively physical with me such as kicking in the face, punching in the face, etc. Strangely, when talking to his day-care centre they say he doesn't have any behaviour problems there. Based on that advice it seems to only be at home.
* I'm more keen to draw lines in the sand and say 'no' whereas my wife is more lenient with him and doesn't like me being so firm. She likes to bribe him with sweets and lollies to get him to cooperate but doesn't seem to understand this is setting us up for future pain - which I can already see : he is beginning to only want to eat sweet things at home and wants to avoid meals. Whenever he whines, my wife prefers to please him to stop the whining, ultimately guaranteeing our son sees whining as a good method to get what he wants. I'm really finding this difference in opinions on parenting styles when its patently obviously the 'softly-spoil-no hard rule' approach isn't working. Also this lack of consistency undermines my stricter approach of no meaning no.
Otherwise his development is going well. When he behaves well he loves his parent's - I can't get away from the day-care morning drop-off without accepting his offers of a kiss and hug. The lack of sleep doesn't seem to be bothering him - he is full of energy and happy to go do day-care most mornings. He also doesn't seem to be over-sleeping at nap times. His spoken language is coming along in leaps and bounds and he loves have long descriptive conversations with me. Counting and vocab such as colours, days and months are all good. He is sleeping independently now in his own room after we get him asleep. Toilet training, while not complete, is going well with most of the day in undies and only using nappies for sleeping. We both use positive re-enforcement of good behaviours. The day-care he goes to (Montessori based centre) does an absolutely wonderful job of providing a nurturing learning and development environment.
But even with all those good things, I'm dreading evenings because of lack of sleep, the constant fight to get any cooperation from him and the disagreements with my wife on how to approach the issue.
A key factor here seems that this bad behaviour only occurs at home, so it's likely the home environment and how we parent that has led us to this point.
We are are single income family so don't have much disposable income to access experts. How do I get help? How can I get an external opinion on our parenting techniques and feedback to improve? I really feel we need to get someone to articulate good parenting so I can get my wife to consider whether her preferred method is a good approach or not.
While we always hear about the 'terrible twos', I feel this is a little bit beyond that.