Sometimes we have to go back to the drawing board.
My sister had had a quiet talk with her three-year-old son. He wasn't getting along very well with his cousin. He needed to learn about sharing. After she finished talking with him, she asked him if he understood what needed improvement. He nodded his head gravely. Then she told him to go off and play with his cousin.
He walked over to him, grabbed the Power Ranger away from him, and told him, "You have to share." Of course, bedlam erupted once again. And it was decreed that everyone needed some quiet time!
Parenting isn't always easy.
What can you do when your best efforts go awry and you find yourself back at the drawing board?
It's helpful to begin by recognizing that children - and adults, too, for that matter - have a natural affinity for good. Goodness is natural. Kids really love to be good, and it is self-evident that they are happiest when they are good. While to some this may be stating the obvious, it's an important reminder. Children, like adults, love good.
On a day when the spirit of crankiness or selfishness seems to have possessed our children, we have some strong spiritual resources at hand. And they can put an end to it. We can start helping by changing the thought "You're impossible today" to "You're the child of God today." It is because we are all the children of God that we love good and love to be good.
Have you read the 100th Psalm in the Bible? The third verse goes, "Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." Doesn't this mean that we have the nature which God gives us, the one He has created?
What happens when we challenge the idea that a child is bad? We find that he or she starts behaving better. How do we do this?
A good place to start is to stop finding excuses for bad behavior. We are tempted to say, "He missed his nap"; "She's not feeling well"; "He's overexcited or hyperactive"; "He ate too much sugar." The list goes on. If we attribute a cause for bad behavior, we're likely to find its effect all too evident.
On the other hand, if we deny that such things have true power to affect our children, we can find these negative influences are annulled. How could a child be tired if he has the infinite strength of God, the divine Spirit? The energy of Spirit is seen in happiness and a sense of well-being. It is constructive. It manifests the control of Spirit. If Spirit is ever present - and it is - then its good effect must be ever present in our children and in ourselves.
God expresses in each individual the Christlike qualities of peace, goodness, kindness, obedience, love. Because they come from God, they are eternal. They can never be lost. If we look for the evidence of these qualities in our children, the divine Mind of the universe will reveal them to us.
The Christian Science textbook reminds readers of Jesus Christ's example: "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick. Thus Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is intact, universal, and that man is pure and holy" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pgs. 476-477).
When we know that all of us - children, women, and men - are the work of God, then we expect to see the evidence of God's handiwork. Crankiness and stubbornness are not the attributes of God, and therefore they do not belong to His children. Cooperation, unselfishness, and obedience are natural. They are not dormant. They are alive, filled with the energy of Spirit, and so it is inevitable that we express them.
It's a truism that children compel their parents to pray. And that's a good thing, because prayer is the factor that restores harmony and goodness in the home. Prayer is a recognition that God, infinite good, is present and in control. And that is a healing fact that cannot be denied.