is it me?

Recently I have been thinking (or over thinking and worrying) about this age old problem of Theo's sometimes out of control behaviour. When I wrote the post about giving up on playgroups I wrote it because I was paranoid of what people thought of the way Theo behaved, and if they thought badly of him, but now I'm starting to wonder is it me that they are actually thinking badly of? Like I don't know how to parent my child and I'm raising an out of control son?

Since writing that post we haven't been back to any of the playgroups that we used to go to, but we still take him to his swimming lesson and Rob takes him to football class on a Saturday. In the last couple of weeks Theos realisation of his independence has just reached new heights and he wants to do EVERYTHING himself. He doesn't want to be told to do something when he should, or told to sit still and do what everyone else is doing, he just wants to do his own thing. For example at football when all the other children are sitting in a circle he just wants to run around the circle. At swimming he is really confident in the water, can do all the techniques and the moves, but never wants to do them when everyone else is doing them. When they are supposed to be floating on their backs being still he wants to lie on his back and kick his legs and swim backwards (which he can do really well!) when they are supposed to be kicking their legs he wants to turn around and around in a circle (which again he does well) and when they are singing songs he wants to float on his back! They only thing he is good at doing at the right time is jumping in, but then all he wants to do is jump in. It's frustrating because he's really good at swimming, but he just doesn't want to be told when and what to do. It's all on his terms.

So I'm starting to think whether I need to try and put a little more effort into controlling him, or am I better off letting him do what he wants? I mean perhaps it's not fair on the other children or parents that I just let him do the things he wants whilst they are doing what the teacher asks? If I try and make him do the songs or swim in the direction he doesn't want to go in, he wriggles and screams and tries to get away so I don't really know what's more disruptive?

Before we get in the pool we have a little 'pep' talk if you will, where I explain that he needs to listen to what Jo (the teacher) is asking him to do, and to try and do some of the activities then he can do lots of jumping in. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. He loves being in the water so perhaps he just gets a little too overexcited? Or maybe it's just me not trying to control him a little better?

Is that what children need, do they need to learn rules and boundaries or do they need to be let to explore and discover for themselves? I would think it's a mix of both personally, and I really don't like being the type of parent to be constantly hovering over his shoulder saying "oh no be careful, don't do that, don't do this" I want to let him be free to learn things for himself, with some guidance and input from me. But perhaps I'm too relaxed with this, and perhaps it appears as though I just don't have control over him and I'm just letting him run wild. I don't want to constantly give into Theo and just take the easier option of letting him do what he wants out of fear he'll have a tantrum, or whether I'm making a rod for my own back and making it harder in the long run? I feel that perhaps I don't go through with my actions enough, for example if I've given him a warning that we are going to leave a place because he's behaving badly and not following through on that, is he just learning that I don't really mean what I say?

So basically I just don't really know what to do! Maybe I've spent too long making excuses about Theo's behaviour when all along it's down to the way I am parenting him?

HELP!