This morning my kids and I visited a friend and her 4- and 6-year old sons. For the past week plus, our two oldest (4 1/2 and 2 1/2) have been going through a rough patch- one of those when you wonder, “Is there something in the water? What the heck is going on here?” Both have struggled with unusual moodiness, defiance, and difficulty holding it together over even minor issues. Sometimes kids just hit seasons like this for no clear reason and you just have to work with them patiently and help them ride it out. But it sure can make for taxing, head-scratching, prayerful seasons for the mom!
Before we arrived at my friend’s house, I talked with the kids about how we behave – polite to our hosts, kind to each other, share, etc. Fine. In we went, and within the first 10 minutes both behaved terribly. They fought over the same toy, displaying some of the grabbiest and rudest behavior I’ve seen. Nor were they receptive to my correction or direction to amend their ways. I was sorely vexed. Some of my annoyance no doubt stemmed from the fact that this was our first visit to these friends’ house and my kids’ behavior painted us all in a poor light (a good humility lesson for me); a bigger part was sheer discouragement – feeling like our childrearing efforts were pointless. I mean, why bother pouring into children at home and training them intentionally if they are going to act this way when we go out? Things did improve somewhat and we had a nice time, but other episodes of whining and disobedience occurred and my son left reluctantly in a pouty and less than polite manner. Among outings of this type, it was a low point. (more…)