I’ve written about how we’ve  struggled with our 4-year-old son.  When he hits his brother for no reason, breaks a toy intentionally, or plugs his ears when I am talking to him, I want to scream: “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?”.

Lately I’ve found myself reacting to his undesirable behavior with frustrated looks or a harsher tone. Even though I know I shouldn’t bother to ask, “Why would you do that?” I still wonder.

In my mind I project who this little boy will become. Rebellious trouble-maker. School drop-out.

I don’t want to believe those outcomes will come true. But somedays I wonder if his fate is sealed by his current behavior. He’s not like his peers or his brothers.

Recently, I lamented my fears to a friend. She encouraged me with advice she had been given.

She encouraged me to cast a vision of what I wanted my son to become. To speak positively of his future. To build on and encourage the skills he IS demonstrating.

The next day I found myself discouraged by his misbehavior. This time I stopped my negative tangent & focused on the positive outcome I would like to see.  With conviction and a tone of belief, I spoke hopeful words to him.

When he hit his brother, I gently responded: “I know that you are a sweet boy who loves his brother. You are going to treat him special and show him love.” The difference in my tone and my reaction surprised him (and me).

Driving in the car talking about the Olympics I cast another vision: “Did you know that when you were an infant, your swimming instructor said you were naturally gifted in swimming. She said you were the best baby she had ever taught! I believe you can be a great swimmer.” He responded with, “Talking about it makes me want to go swimming right now!

While having a formal tea party (yes, boys can have tea partiesI asked the boys what they want to be like when they become really big boys. They dreamt of being strong, smart, fun. I shared with them the characteristics I love in them and how I see God using those characteristics. Leading Bible Studies. Serving others in a hospital. Loving the unloved.

Casting a vision of the man I would like my 4-year-old to become has freed me up from the fears of the man he might become. I can speak life into our home. My heart is hopeful. For I know a man’s fate is not sealed by the first four years of his life.

“Anything–minus hope–equals nothing. Hope is the human equivalent of oxygen when it comes to the ability to live life effectively.”                         Dr. Tim Kimmel

 What vision can you cast for your son today?

*this post was originally published at themobsociety.com in May of 2012