Our 5-year old seems to have begun a new phase: the apparent growth of his conscience. In recent weeks he’s become uncharacteristically concerned about his misbehavior, even to the point of self-condemnation. It’s nothing we’ve ever seen in him before.
Example: he and his 3-year old sister squabble over a toy. He grabs for it, yells at her, and pushes her roughly. I intervene and correct him, and – when he throws himself on the floor in protest over the unfairness of it all – send him to his room for a minute to cool off. When I meet him there he is near tears: “I’m always doing wrong things. I do the most wrong things of anyone in the world!”
The first few times he expressed these types of feelings, I told him that we all do wrong things, explained temptation, and said one key is to pray to God for strength to do something different just as he’s about to sin. “God’s the one who gives us the strength not to do wrong things; He helps us and gives us self-control,” I told him. He accepted this; we prayed together. Similar scenes of him coming undone over his wrong actions occurred. Typically during the misbehavior phase he’d be defiant and naughty; it wasn’t till afterwards that he’d morosely express his sense that he was a boy filled with wrong-doing. (more…)