Mercury in retrograde.
Wildfire smoke in the air.
Whatever it is, we want something to blame when our kids suddenly start acting in ways that have us questioning our sanity.
Here are 5 factors that may have your kiddo acting out of sorts - maybe some you hadn't considered yet.
1) Brain development - there is almost always some element of this one involved. Kids develop in spurts and there are periods of relative ease and then periods of chaos. I most often find these aligned with a period of disequilibrium when the brain is going through a growth spurt and things like "self-control" take a back seat. Ages 18 months, 2.5, 3.5, 4.5, and 5.5 are the first and most consistent times. After that, they space out considerably.
2) Minor sickness - as kids age and their immune systems get stronger they may not appear sick in the way you're used to seeing. Some days they feel clingy and whiny and they really are fighting off a bug, they are just more efficient at it so you can't tell.
3) Your stress - kids are sponges - when you're stressed they absorb it. When you're anxious, they feel it. When you're angry, the tension weighs on their shoulders too. We all feel these things, but do your best to take some time every day to just play. Release yourself and your kiddo from the burden. When we don't we'll see them attempt to get rid of that feeling and since they don't know how, it usually looks like a wild, crazy, mess!
4) Going back to school - this can be a HUGE transition for kids. New environment, new people, new rules, new expectations. They want to fit in and do well so they most often hold in all of their fear and anxiety and frustration all day and come home and see you, their safe person, and dump it at your feet. That looks like a total meltdown, shouting, slamming doors, crying, demanding, or otherwise acting like they've lost their mind. Don't take this personally. Empathize with their feelings and offer some grace. Soon the routine will kick in and the newness and fear will fade and you'll have peace again.
5) Missing you - this was the big one for us this week. I took a teaching position and had to go set up for the whole week. I was away from my kids for some part of 8 of the last 9 days. I've missed bedtimes and lunches and tea parties. I've missed a lot. And my kids are confused and hurt a little. I know they don't mean to be a mess when I come home, I know they are just young and confused and missed me and have to get out those big scary feelings they don't want to hold inside.
So, I snuggled.
I focused on staying present in the moments I had.
I had real conversations with my kids.
I played with them.
And we made it through.
The next three days I'm all theirs and once their preschool co-op starts they will be with me on my work days again and we'll just have to navigate the other 4 items on the list.
Whatever is causing your kiddo to feel out of sorts - there is something. Put on your detective hat and kid goggles and see what you can come up with to really empathize with their experience. Create connection any way you can and you too will get through the crazy!