Truly. Her behaviour is getting worse and worse.
This all started a little bit when her older sister, my 5yo niece, started going to school full-time. But it wasn't too bad. Things regressed more when her Dad went away on a business trip for 5 days. She stopped walking into the house in the morning--has been carried in almost every single day since. Other little things popped up around that time. Combined with her no longer having someone to direct her every move the way her sister does, things really started regressing--like not talking clearly or not talking at all, just little noises we're supposed to interpret.
Then the baby (well, he was 12 months) started. The 3yo is jealous. She is attention-seeking. She is sometimes just willful and angry for no apparent reason. Also blaming others for things they haven't even done, like her falling and missing the last two stairs to downstairs--because she was sort of hopping from one stair to another--then blaming my son for it, even though he wasn't even in arm's length of her. It's not pretty.
Today there was an event that really had it clicking that I must direct her more. Things started off okay--she fell asleep on me (yes, her lack of sleeping well at home has definitely contributed to the issues!) and then napped for about an hour in all (I transferred her to the sofa at one point), after that, she found the Swiffer Duster and dusted, played with the baby (okay, so he's now about 13.5 months) and everything seemed pretty good. But something happened at some point, I'm not sure what--maybe she hit the limit to her self-direction, maybe she was tired of not having my son play with her (he was engrossed in a dinosaur book all morning), I don't know what, but the 16yo saw her picking her nose, said, "Ew, gross!" and within the next minute, she walked over, wiped that finger on his bag, went back to the spot she had been, and put on a face that was a mix of smirking and being put out for being told "Ew."
This from a child who turned 3 about 2.5 weeks ago. Mind you, she has a 10yo brother who definitely has his style of retaliative ways... ;0
I have no idea how Maria Montessori would have handled it. I was not impressed. Especially since she kept smirking after the 16yo told her to not do that and I can't remember what else. I guided her over to the sink, wet a new dishcloth for her, and yes, I admit it, annoyed and a bit angrily brought her to his bag and guided her hand to wipe off where she'd wiped her finger. She kept the smirk up until I got eye level with her and told her I can't even remember what. I then asked her to go sit down in the big chair by herself for a while (there were some books and toys there, so it wasn't as though it were some horrible isolation). She didn't go. (This has been another issue: outright defiance, dragging of the feet, etc.) I took her hand, brought her over to the chair, lifted her up and let her stay there a while.
I thought about how I'd handled it, but was quickly brought to the point of thinking: what is causing this behaviour? It's not like she's acting up mostly when the baby is getting attention. No. Even later in the afternoon, she found it unfair that my son was letting her older sister have some grapes, but not her (the 3yo). I asked him why she couldn't have any. I don't know what was behind it all, but he quickly said, "Okay, you can have some." Well, man oh man, she took her sweet time going down those stairs. Her sister took another grape from the very few that were left. I said to the 5yo to wait and let her sister get one before they were all gone, but the 3yo continued to do the very s-l-o-w movement down the stairs. I finally said, "Well, maybe your sister should get them all since you're not being very quick about getting to them." That got her moving. ;) But why drag her feet for something that she wanted?
Some good things from today: The 3yo did the dusting on her own, happily played with the baby for a while and did some puzzles next to me at the table. I helped her with a couple of them. Mostly I tried to just let her do them without me commenting much. Oh, she also wiped some windows. Need to keep her busy with practical stuff.
All of this means that what I've not been able to get myself to do in terms of providing her with consistent lessons and activities has turned into a crisis situation where I *need* to! An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I must remember that.