About a year ago, we hired a wonderful on-call Nanny to spend overnights and help Colleen manage the kids when I am away on business travel. The Nanny is wonderful - an empty nester woman with a sweet disposition, patience of a saint, and totally kid centric.
We struck gold with her. Marin was miserable toward her.
Marin did and said mean things to the Nanny. Was often a terror to her. It was just ridiculous.
So last week I was away, and the Nanny arrived with a small wedding cake that was left over from her own wedding. WHAT????? We didn't even know she was dating anybody.
Marin leapt for joy. She was so sweet. Snuggled in the Nanny's lap. Showed the Nanny her presents from her own birthday early this month. And on and on and on. Marin could not have been a nicer kid.
Later on, I quizzed Marin about her behavior.
Me: Marin, you used to be so mean to the Nanny.
Marin: I know
Me: But this time you were super nice.
Marin: I know.
Marin: Because all the times you went away I didn't know if you would come home and Nanny would be my new Daddy and I did not want that. Now I know Nanny will not live with us because her husband won't let her do that and she wants to sleep in the same bed as her husband like you and Mama do.
I post this so you will know that every time your kid is acting out, there is probably a very rational reason inside the kids' head that is driving the behavior. It is our job as parents to question carefully and skillfully to draw out the reason for the behavior, and thereby enable ourselves to address the root cause of the behavior.