I have to admit that I’m finding parenting a very frustrating task at the moment. Particularly my eldest who is almost three. He knows exactly how to push my buttons and manages to choose the times when I am trying to feed or calm the baby to really wind me up. I know he’s just being a toddler and I’m trying my best to maintain a form of gentle discipline but I am finding myself shouting and getting angry several times a day now. I really don’t like it. But apart from the little things that wind me up on a day to day basis there are two big ones that I really don’t know how to tackle.

Firstly – food. He used to eat a wide variety of things but now he has become a very fussy eater. I know this is not unusual and I’m trying to be relaxed about it. In fact I decided a while ago to go down the ‘unfooding’ route and let him have free access to a basket containing a wide variety of foods. Various blogs and forums I’ve read suggest that kids who aren’t limited in what they eat will overall make good choices and not just eat the unhealthy stuff. Well, they haven’t met my son! He loves chocolate. Really loves chocolate. It’s the first thing he asks for in the morning and continues to request it throughout the day. I tried just letting him choose from the basket, which always contained some chocolate along with other things, and to start with he only picked the chocolate 50% of the time. But then that percentage started to rise and now it’s the only thing he’ll pick out. Even though all the other stuff in there is things he has previously eaten and enjoyed. Now if there is no chocolate in there he just comes back to ask for it, and screams if I don’t give him any. And he’ll no longer be happy with nutella on toast or bread (which he used to eat happily) – now it has to be a proper chocolate bar. How on earth do I encourage him to eat other food? Remove all chocolate from the house and deal with the tantrums? He will eat chicken nuggets or fish fingers with chips and sauce but that’s about it for proper meals. Oh, and he’ll eat fruit. Sometimes. So it’s not like chocolate is his sole food source, just a big one.

Secondly –potty training. He’ll be three in a couple of weeks. I know not all kids are potty trained before three but most are and it’s frustrating me that we don’t even seem close. He showed some readiness six months ago when I was heavily pregnant with son number two but I didn’t want to do it then as I didn’t fancy potty training with a newborn around. And given the issues the baby had for his first few months there is no way I could have coped. But now he’s resisting all suggestions that he use the potty or toilet. He can use them and has a few times but now he says it is scary and screams if we try to put him on there. He will deny that his nappy is wet or soiled and is perfectly happy to run around all day in the same nappy even if it’s leaking and his trousers are wet (yet if he spills a few drops of water on his trousers he insists on being changed immediately). We use cloth nappies and I always thought one of their advantages is that kids can feel they are wet and therefore potty train more easily. My son just doesn’t seem to care if he’s wet. We tried rewards but he just got so focused on the reward that he would be sitting on the toilet in tears because he didn’t like it but not wanting to get off because he wanted the reward. If we offer the reward for just sitting there but not necessarily producing he’ll sit for 2 seconds then say ‘Finished!’ and ask for his reward.

Argh!! Need to come up with some strategies to get through this because they are really getting to me right now.