I remember thoxe days. My DS is almost 3 and the battle of the wills is a bit different now. Toddlerhood really caused me to search a lto abdout developemtn etc. The young toddler si at astage of development that is frusdtraitng for them, so then they pass it on to you. They want to be able to do stuff, but moslty they can't yet. I found that giving words where my son could not was sooo helpful. Adress that he was sad, frustrated etc. I learned to let him knwo that being uposet was OK, btu there were ways to show it tat were OK adn others weren't. I found my getting upset only added to the problem.
I especially found it was not about being good/bad or punishemnt. I ahd to do waht I coudl to structure things so that he could be successful, and end things that didn;t wokr. A few examples:
I sat down one day to feed him applesauce ,wchich he lovede. Well he refused to eat it, pretty mcuh thre a fit. I soon realized that HE did not want ME to feed him, yet he was nopt yet able to get spoon food into his mouth by himslef. So I backed off and became mroe creative witht he finger foods. Ocassionally bringing out stuff for the spoon, sot aht he could practice.
WIth food throwing we would tell him if he threw anything agian in that meal that he was all done. Once he threw the enxt thing we CALMLY wiped him up, and put him down. He did nto stop throwing food for a long time, but we were consisten woith this and he did learn. In the eman time we had less mess, because he didn't jsut sit and throw all his fod on the floor.
If I was out and he was havinga lot of trouble, we quit what we were doing and went home, I usually gave him a verbal warning. ie, "If you can't stay woith mommy we'll have to leave." Soemtime we'd have to leave. This was quite disrupotive for me and my agenda, but better than the battle we'd have.
One big key, and it's HARD, stay calm. Use a calm tone. Get in close and talk firnly and calmly. Sya take a deep breatha nd then do ti, repeat it a few times. Show them how to calm down. SHow them to hit the pillow if they want/need to hit. Also, think a bout how you phrase things, they understand WAY more than you think they do. When ds threw the blocks - and he knew not to throw them, I said it looks like you are having trouble handling the blocks today, maybe they will have to go away. It's your choice, if you continue to throw, we'll take a break form the blocks. (Usually very soon the blocks, or whatever had to go away.) But this was not a punishment, it helped him to learn about controlling himself. The focus wasn't on losing the toy for some epriod of time, but on what he coudl handle. At this age too, they are so momen to moment. Toys were returned the enxt day, becasue we were so beyond that by then, yet if the beahvior repeated then the scenario woudl repeat. IF I felt he really coudl not hanlde soemthing I just did not bring it back, but also I did nto bring it up. Toddlers don;t understand nagging.
Also, punishment esp physical can be a very confusing to a child at that stage. Both time pouts and spanking are hard for them to really connect to their actions. At this age they need to see the connection - thus seeing the blocks go away. At this age too, tehy haev BIG emotions that they don't understnad. They need help navigating these emotions rather than feeling wrong for haviong them. Some kids do need a time out to calm down. Some kids need a quiet moment with mom. Play a song on a CD and dance, read a book whatever... OVerall the more tools you can giove them to deal with their emotion the better they will be able to respond to you, even in the strong willed moments.
Something else I learned, a tired kid has trouble behaving and coping. Npas and a good night sleep make a huge difference. Somtime the meltdowns come when a nap is needed. On the flip side soemtime ds jsut needed to run around. Thsi especailly happenned on the weekends. Soemitme he'd jsut be increasingly ahrd to deal with, until I said to DH let's take him to the aprk. A couple of hours later we'd be back hoem a lot more relaxed and happy. DS had run off a ton of enregy and because we could focus on him, and not on our to do list, we enjoyed him too.
When ds hti thsi toddler stage I read Positive Discipline, The First Three Years. It explained so much about my child's and gave me so many tools to sue in dealing with him.
That was a lot of info, but I so get where you are. I will say that you will get through it and onto other wonderful stages with your dear children.
ds Ezekiel 1/2/02 (34wks due to pre-e)
dd Naomi 6/25/04 (38 1/2 wks PIH)