In Action: Looking to Self First

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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.

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Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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  1. Christie
    February 27, 2009 / 6:07 PM

    I really enjoyed this post, Eden has her good and bad days, and sometimes it is hard for me to pinpoint the “whys” behind it! This has given me a few avenues to look into. Thanks!

  2. The Pinnt's
    February 27, 2009 / 6:54 PM

    This is a great reminder. Thank you SO much.You are a good mom! I hope you’re sleeping well! The new baby is coming soon!

  3. Corinne Doughan
    February 28, 2009 / 12:25 AM

    I can TOTALLY relate to this blog. I just went through a similar situation with our 2.5 year old. Such a good reminder!

  4. Salina
    February 28, 2009 / 12:42 AM

    You made a very important point: that Brayden needed one on one quality time. That sounds like that may be his love language. If you haven’t read the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, I really recommend it to everyone. There is the regular version (which really helps with knowing how to love our spouce) and one for children. He explains how we all feel loved in one way more than the others by quality time, words of encouragement, physical touch, etc. We also try to love others in the way we want to be loved. It’s very interesting!

  5. *~*a.l.s*~*
    February 28, 2009 / 1:34 AM

    Thank you so much for being transparent to your readers. My daughter is only 6 months old so we have yet to deal with serious behavior issues but it is so encouraging to see how to analyze and fix things step-by-step. Thanks again!

  6. ghornsey
    February 28, 2009 / 10:29 AM

    Thank you for sharing! We have expereinced a similar situation just this weeek. Our 2 year old daughter had several days of ‘melt-downs’. I think it is for many of the same reasons you experienced with Brayden. We will be welcoming a new baby girl any day, so I am tired and working to get things ready, unintentionally not giving the first child enough attention. We have incorporated some of her favorite activities into the day and changed a few other things, and hopefully are back on track! I know we will see some more changes as we adjust to a new family life with an infant! Thanks for taking time to encourage and support others through this blog!

  7. Todd Kortus
    February 28, 2009 / 3:35 PM

    This is really silly, but I’ve actually lost the question that I posted to you yesterday. I can’t seem to remember what I posted it under. Will I receive an email notification when you answer it? I am afraid you may already have and I just can’t find it.

  8. GledBlog
    February 28, 2009 / 10:57 PM

    Hi there… I am an avid reader of your blog and have found it so helpful doing babywise with my little guy! Jake is now 19 months old and our next boy is due to arrive any day. For the past couple of weeks Jake has been waking up at 5:30 am! He use to sleep 7:30pm to 6:30am. His nap is the same… diet is the same… routine all the same… his bedroom did change a bit (furniture) in preparing for the baby around the same time the sleep issues started (he is still in a crib though). I cannot figure out what is casuing him to wake up early and how to get back on track (and quickly!) before his little brother arrives. We’ve tried CIO but it hasn’t seemed to get him back on track like it has in the past. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!-Kate

  9. Kristin
    March 2, 2009 / 5:32 AM

    I am loving your blog SO much. Generally if I have a question, I can find the answers I need by reading posts and following links in them. It has been so wonderful! Thank you.My question isn’t really in relation to this post, but I’ve read so many posts tonight that I’m not sure where I read it. You mentioned some BW support groups or other type BW groups that you are a part of. How did you find them? Are they online? Etc.Thanks again!

  10. Plowmanators
    March 4, 2009 / 6:26 PM

    You are welcome Christie! I am glad you can learn from my mistakes 🙂

  11. Plowmanators
    March 4, 2009 / 6:27 PM

    Thanks Pinnt’s! You are nice. I am sleeping well right now. I had a few weeks where I couldn’t sleep past 5/5:30, but some rearranging of pillows and covering all light in the room helped that. Hopefully it continues!

  12. Plowmanators
    March 4, 2009 / 6:28 PM

    Corinne, I am glad I am not the only one! 🙂

  13. Plowmanators
    March 4, 2009 / 6:31 PM

    Thanks Salina. Yes, I have read the love language book and I love it (the love language blog label in the post will take you to my thoughts on it). It is what made us think of that as a solution. Brayden has always been high in words of affirmation, but we never knew for sure about quality time since he has never been deficient in it before. This experience really showed us how important it is for him.

  14. Plowmanators
    March 4, 2009 / 6:32 PM

    You are most welcome a.l.s.!

  15. Plowmanators
    March 4, 2009 / 6:33 PM

    You are welcome ghornsey! It is good to try to figure out how to balance it all since when baby comes…it requires more balance 🙂

  16. Plowmanators
    March 4, 2009 / 6:34 PM

    Todd Kortus,It is on Early Morning Feedings Before Waketime. I will be answering it in just a minute.

  17. Plowmanators
    March 4, 2009 / 6:36 PM

    Kate,I would wait until the time change and see if that fixes it. Brayden is a sun riser and has been waking earlier than he did in the winter also. With the time change, you will move clocks forward an hour and he would be back to 7:30.

  18. Plowmanators
    March 4, 2009 / 6:38 PM

    Kristin,They are online. There is the ezzo_mommies yahoo group, a growingkids yahoo group, and a babywise group on They all require approval to get in, but it isn’t a problem to get in.

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