Our 3.5yo DS has always been a painful child, highly strung, tense, defiant, tantrumy etc, but I'm starting to wonder if there's more to it than just being a difficult child. He NEVER cooperates with us - the simplest task involves so much negotiation and discipline that life with him is borderline unbearable. We are very strict and consistent with him, but he ALWAYS has to question and resist every tiny little moment of the day. Putting on shoes, coming through a doorway etc etc etc.
In swimming lessons, all the other kids do as asked by the teacher at least most of the time, but he just questions and refuses everything. He's very capable, fairly confident, 110% understands what is being asked of him, yet pushes against everything. It's like a power struggle that he has never won, yet relentlessly tries in hope that we will give in and let him do whatever he wants at whatever pace he wants. To be honest it makes DH and I sometimes feel like we can't stand him.
My sister has a 3yo girl and while she certainly has her challenging days, she will mostly do as asked when it's a simple task being asked of her, and she delights in being praised for doing something well. Does our DS sound extreme to you? I dread to attach a label to him, but I am really at my wits end.