Ellen is my youngest and she is 4. She is articulate and advanced and hilarious and delightful but also a stinker. She is stubborn. She likes to fight about clothes and shoes and sides of bed and color of cups and how her hair is done and she will rarely do anything I ask her to do or wait patiently for more than one second. I feel that she needs her will broken and I wonder how to do it.
When my other kids have hit this stage I've had other babies already or been pregnant so they were just out of luck. I was laid up. Out of it. Didn't care about them anymore and they knew it. They learned their place in the grand scheme of things. But this one--how will she ever learn that? Half the time I am strict, structured, follow-through and parent her very awesomely. The other half of the time I let things go, am extra "nice", decide not to fight stubbornness with more stubbornness, and I roll with the punches. This half and half strategy has served me well with the rest of my kids. They are turning out OK. They aren't perfect but if you ask them to put something in the garbage for you they do it without making a federal case of it.
But there's more than just the half and half going on. Each of my kids are also strict with Ellen half the time and lenient with Ellen half the time so that's six more halves and they often conflict. I find myself yelling "Don't give in to her!" and "Just do what she wants!" alternatively. The great thing about having your kids get older is that they can help you with the littler ones. But then you find yourself in this alternate hell-dimension parenting them about how to parent her while also parenting her much differently than you parented them and still also parenting them normally about other stuff and pretending like you aren't a hypocrite when you give her extra computer time just to get her off your back but don't let the older kids have it even though they are nice and deserve it.
So anyway, I've tried being strict and dealing with the fall-out. It's a lot of fall-out. One day I was nice and cheerfully did everything she asked and tried to teach her through my example how to be amiable, flexible, and helpful. It actually worked pretty well. But it wasn't 100% effective and I simply can't sustain that kind of cheerful subservience unless I'm getting some kind of pay off. Parents of youngest kids who aren't spoiled: How?