The first Sunday of last February, Brayden had a really bad day as far as behavior goes. It was the worst of his life thus far. He was disobedient, defiant, and flat out told me no when I instructed him to do something. The crowing act was when he took Kaitlyn's cup of milk. I told him to give it back, and he ran away. He then threw it to me. It wasn't an aggressive throw at me, but he threw it to me and that is obviously something we don't allow.
At the end of the day when Brayden was in bed, my husband and I discussed the day. We knew something was really off for him. This was such odd behavior for him. We tried to figure out the reasons for his disobedience. We didn't talk about what a bad child he was or anything like that. We looked to ourselves to see what we had done to contribute to this problem.
First, this was a sudden major swing in behavior. He was fine one day, terrible that one day, then fine the next. However, we knew there was something (or several somethings) that needed to change. It was a once-in-his-lifetime occurrence, but something that showed us something was wrong.
The first thing we acknowledged is that the day before he had not had his naptime. We had driven a few hours to visit cousins, visited a dinosaur museum, and driven back home. He had spent a lot of time in the vehicle and hadn't had any rest time, not to mention independent play or anything. Then the day in question, he had a shorter than usual nap because of church. By the way, his behavior at church was fine. Our problems were only in the 4:00-8:00 PM hours. But it seemed like all day :).
We knew this lack of normal routine and rest for two days were definitely contributors to the problem. Brayden has always been one who needs his structure. However, at 3.5 he is a lot more flexible and has experienced worse disruptions in the recent past without the disobedience problems. We knew it was a factor that contributed to this problem, but it was not the cause.
My husband realized he had been rather impatient with Brayden that day and very picky about his behavior. He was very fast to point out every wrong step Brayden took that day. He was looking for ultimate perfection. We knew this also would have been a contributor. Brayden does not do well behaviorally with criticism. It usually makes him behave more negatively. This is something my husband knows well because my husband is and was the same way. This was another contributing factor to the behavior, but we knew there had to be more.
I realized that we had been really busy lately trying to get things ready for our baby's birth. We have been remodeling a room and I have been sewing the baby bedding. We realized Brayden wasn't getting enough one-on-one time with his parents. An important thing for him is quality time. We have also been really busy with our service activities and other various activities. Story time before bed had been severely shortened. We decided we needed to put back in place our long story time before bed. We alternate nights of which parent reads the story.
We also put more conscious effort that we spent quality time with the children doing things they enjoyed, not just being with them in presence but mentally also. We figured Brayden was feeling neglected, though I doubt he could verbalize the feeling he was having. Kaitlyn is also around a lot more now that she has basically the same schedule that he does. So he doesn't have as much opportunity for one-on-one time with parents.
The lack of parental one-on-one time proved to be the main culprit of the problem. Brayden loves to help do things. We have been sure to include him in our activities. He loves it. He even loved the day I had him help me scrub the grout on the tile floor. Our story time is back up to thirty minutes before bed. This means we have to be sure to be home and ready for bed in time for 30 minute story time. We are sure to do fun things with him individually where he is our only focus.
We were able to find the underlying problems. He then had some extenuating circumstances that basically 'pushed him over the edge' and he basically snapped that day.
We had that one bad day that taught us a lot as parents. As parents, we always need to be evaluating ourselves and what we are doing to ensure we are offering our children the best we can. Brayden has been awesome ever since. He has been better than ever. Our realizations and efforts have helped him to feel more loved, which has led to him being more obedient, which has led to all of us being happier.