This is a good book:
1) Your Three-Year-Old: Friend or Enemy (Paperback)
by Louise Bates Ames (Author), Frances L. Ilg (Author)
2) Raising Girls (Paperback)
by Melissa Trevathan (Author), Sissy Goff (Author)
You can get it both at Amazon.com
Or there are books on "spirited children."
But mostly, I believe each age carries with it a certain "problem" and trade-mark behaviors whether it be positive or "negative." Any child expert will say that in addition to any "discipline" method.... you need to also "see" what a child is like at any given age....it's all about stages and ages.
Okay so to solve the problem is always many-pronged. Main thing is you are not being too hard, but firm. There is a difference between "discipline" and 'teaching.' But in some situations you have to be hard-lined and they have to learn boundaries and cause/effect of their behavior, on and on.
For some kids, (like my daughter), simply just asking her "WHY are you doing that/behaving like that/yelling like that/screaming like that...." does the trick. For my girl, she NEEDS to be able to "talk" about it... instead of just me always putting her at the end of a short stick and talking "at" her. Other times, I just say "NO." and walk away... in the midst of her screaming... and do not interact, period. I also tell her that when she is like that, she can go in her room and scream all she wants...BUT she cannot take it out on anyone else. I "teach" her that we all have GRUMPY intolerable moments, and it's okay (even adults get grumpy...)...BUT we do NOT take it out on anyone else, we are Family and we are a "team." Then I tell her... how would you like Mommy to be like that to YOU?" Of course her answer is that she would NOT like a Mommy like that.... so then I tell her to reflect on that.. and to realize....what she is doing. For my girl, being the way she is, it works. If I tell her about the situation and then shine a mirror of it back at her... her light-bulb switches on and she has an "a-ha" moment.
Other times, she loses a privilege. Cut and dry. No choice. But I pick my battles.
At this age, 3 years old IS a tough age... they are changing a great deal in intellect, emotionally they are developing 'new' feelings, and in impulse control and in 'patience' and expectations upon them. At this age, they are typically "expected" to be "a big girl...." and to know better...but I feel, 3 years old is still a "baby-child" age. They are still kinda "baby" but also realizing that they are "growing up." THIS throws them for a doozy. It's not easy for them....
My girl is now 5 going on 6 years old. But, in light of that... I manage my response to my girl. I "discipline" her under the veil of "teaching." And, for many girls, their relationship with the "Mom" goes hot and cold. It's not personal...it's just a thing they go through as they find themselves in the process of developing and "finding" their own opinions etc. A Mom is the most dear thing to them... and as often happens...those that are closest to someone ALSO suffers their wrath. Same for a child.
Adults are never the same mood everyday, we get stressed and moody and grumpy and have "ugly" moods too... so to "expect" a child to be even-keeled every moment is not going to happen. BUT we have to manage them and teach them... THIS is the thing.
Find your daughter's achilles heel... reach out to her that way... use it positively instead of just as a "punishment" or "discipline" route. A child's heart is tender.... and the way I deflate my daughter's "monster" moods...is I immediately tell her "I love you....even when you are like this..." then I hug her... and I give her that moment...and it composes her. Sometimes...my daughter tells me that "I'm just a little girl Mommy...please don't expect me to be grown up...." or she'll tell me "please don't rush me... I can't keep up..." or, "wait Mommy, I need time to think...." or "I need a break..." And it REALLY puts my brain in perspective. Fast. But no, my daughter is not the "boss" and she knows completely what the boundaries are. I trust her... and she trusts that I trust her.
As one Mom told me "it's great our kids are good students and well behaved at school, they know their place. But at home...this is where they feel safe and can vent. It's okay... at least they know we are there for them..."
Sure, discipline as you see appropriate. But hopefully, age appropriately. Lots of times, a child is EXPECTED to act a lot older than they are.
Sorry for rambling, just my own thoughts. That book is really great though and has great reviews...it's an easy fast read... and simply gives you a "window" into the minds and emotions of a 3 year old... so we can understand "their" world.
*Going back to her screaming at the sign-up for swim class....um, okay, is this something that she hates taking, or does she really enjoy it? I'm not saying give in or let her dictate what classes/recreation she takes...but, if she hates it, she will fight it tooth and nail. Maybe she might benefit more from something she does enjoy. Then maybe later, revisit swim classes. That is what we did, and some of my friends. My daughter enjoyed it a lot better when she have the "want" to take it.
I know sometimes, my daughter will turn on a "monster mood" when she is wanting attention... or feels that I am not "there" for her.
All the best,