You know, we demand a lot of kids. I demand that he be respectful, quiet and gracious in a lot of circumstnaces. I'm very strict. Loving, but strict. A lot of people say "too strict." I don't know what that means, but there it is.
DS has been defiant. lots of push-back on minor things. sometimes just not doing something that we ask (ie putting on shoes in the house, not walking out in socks to the car and then putting them on). when he gets a firm 'no' due to safety, he might do something risky out of anger.
So, i went looking for a few solutions. First, to the kindy (steiner), where they asserted that my strictness and DH's lenient-ness is a role reversal, but normal overall. It's within both steiner and peaceful parenting bounds (no punishment/rewards, just consequences at this age, and they are direct: if you don't relax and come with us now -- rather than freaking out and having a melt down over nothing -- we won't be able to go swimming. do you want to go swimming? DS says yes, calms down, and we go swimming.).
then it's dealing with the frustration/aggression of the certain familial needs that we have (and under stress, we are not always awesome anyway). so, i went looking for a few more resources and happened upon this idea of a "child day."
It was actually designed for teenagers who felt really constrained. A small study was done out of a practice in CA with teachers struggling with depression and defiance. Taking out any major issues in the family life as well as noting that the parenting methods were not deeply authoritarian (as ours are not per se), the psychologist suggested that the family choose a day where the teen get carte blanche to do waht s/he wants for the day -- within healthy, agreed-upon limits.
What he discovered is that the teens were way less defiant in school and home, much happier overall, and most overcame their depression with limited counselling and no medications.
So, I was like. . . hmm. that might work with a 4 yr old. So, we agreed to do it once a month just to test it out. First time was really nice for him. We did what he wanted to do. . . having set up the basic rhythm of the day ahead of time and choosing simple options for him to choose. Then we did what he wanted.
The next couple of weeks were really great. He was relaxed and happy. . . easy going with all of my strict-ness. LOL We are coming up on the next one, so he's been fractious this past week. He's also been going to bed late (our fault) which might have something to do with it.
Anyway, it's been working well so far.