For the last month or so my 5-year-old has been acting out. A lot. The usually sweet and loving big sister who rushes to help us do chores has been belligerent and hard to handle.
It’s usually so tempting to fight fire with fire, so when she gets all grumpy and mean I usually get mad right back. This weekend however, in a moment of calm, I finally had the time to sit with her so I could really talk to her about what was going on.
It didn’t take long for her to admit that she was anxious about the start of school, opening the door for me to discuss how her first day was going to go and what we’d do to prepare for it. We talked about the school, her new teacher, where she’d rest during the after-school program, and even what we’d be packing for her lunch. At the end of the conversation, she was calmer and more playful, a step back to being herself.
Of course twenty minutes later she was once again picking on her little sister and fighting for a coveted toy, but her anger wasn’t as deep, neither was her desire to spread her bad mood to the whole family.
Next time she’s having a truly off day I need to remember to dig deep beyond my own annoyance to the place where cuddles are welcome and a hug does more good than a stern word or two.