Having a bad parenting day? You’re not alone. Check out these ideas to pull yourself out from a bad day you’re having with the kids.
You can’t wait until bedtime even though it’s barely noon. You have no stamina to set boundaries or discipline. Any little thing pushes your buttons, from your kids not sharing to your toddler forgetting to wash her hands.
No matter the reason, a bad parenting day can feel heavy and frustrating. Sometimes we don’t even bother with switching gears, assuming that the rest of the day will be just as bad. Trying to make things better can even feel unnatural—who’s in the mood to feel warm and loving when we came from a place of anger and overwhelm?
Rest assured friend, you can always turn a bad day around. With some self-reflection, you can make small changes to feel better and end the day on a higher note. And it’s never too late to make this choice, whether it’s barely noon or you’re tucking your kids into bed.
Take a look at these ideas to help you turn a bad parenting day around:
Table of Contents
1. Praise the positive
Sometimes the best way to switch gears isn’t to harp on the negative, but to focus on the positive. A few simple ways to praise the positive include:
- Telling her what you love about her. Simply ask, “Do you know what I love about you?” and list the many ways you do.
- Giving a hug, even when you’re not exactly in the mood for one. The human touch is so powerful and can instantly melt the anger you both may feel.
- Praising good behavior. When she’s in her normally good mood, praise her actions: “Look at you, coloring your paper!”
- Encouraging good manners. If she shouts “Don’t want that!” respond with, “You can say, ‘No, thank you’.”
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2. Give your attention
Imagine your kids with a “tank” that needs refilling to feel good. Nothing fills their tanks more than attention from you. When things get overwhelming, put aside whatever is distracting you and focus completely on them. Usually, their antics are an attempt to get your affection.
You may not always be able to drop everything, nor should you, especially since they also need to learn how to wait. But it’s amazing how much better your day can get and how much more positive your attitudes become when you engage in activities together.
Then, when they’re napping or having quiet time, use that time to read a book, watch a show, or take a nap. The dishes can wait if it means refilling your tank as well.
3. Allow a treat
We don’t get lots of sugary treats at our house, but occasionally, on a difficult day, I’ve been known to ask, “Who wants ice cream?”
It’s less about the ice cream and more about the grace of a treat even though none of us “deserve” it. Grace all around does wonders for attitudes.
Treats don’t have to be sugary food—or food, for that matter—either. Give them a just-for-fun bath where they can paint in the tub. Let them pick several books for you to read together, or play upbeat music to dance to.
4. Change scenes
Feeling stuck in your environment (especially in your own home)? A change of scene can be all it takes to turn a bad parenting day around. Something about fresh air and being in nature can make you feel better.
Get outside, even your yard—fresh air and sunshine can help you feel so much better. Run an errand, call a friend to talk, or grab lunch to take home. Just the act of making new plans can switch gears and help everyone calm down.
Even if you can’t get outside, find a way to get moving:
- Play music and have a dance party.
- Race from one side of the house to the other.
- Jump up and down.
- Make an obstacle course with dining room chairs and couch cushions.
This is especially important if you don’t think they’re getting as much physical activity. Perhaps they’re in front of the computer or the weather has been cold and rainy, leaving you stuck indoors.
6. Get things done together
Sometimes the best way to turn a bad day around is to get a task done. Doesn’t it feel good to know you’ve done something productive? Kids love a sense of accomplishment too!
Empty the dishwasher together, pick up toys from their bedroom floor, or change the sheets. Fold a load of laundry and race the folded clothes to the bedrooms to put them away. Acknowledge the accomplishment and genuinely thank them for helping you.
7. See things from your kids’ perspective
During difficult moments in parenthood, we can place the blame on so many circumstances. We can point the finger at teething or say that lack of sleep has made us unbelievably tired. We could also blame it on our temperaments or that our kids simply don’t listen.
But then it becomes easy to overlook what the world might look like from their perspective. We forget that we have choices and can make them easily (“I want to eat cereal today”) whereas they may not. They don’t always get to decide what clothes to wear or understand why we have to leave the house.
They also may not have reached developmental milestones that enable them to manage emotions like anxiety, guilt, or fear. We overlook that they still can’t express themselves as clearly as we can.
We might even forget that they’re at the age when they realize that the world doesn’t revolve around them. That they’re but one person among many, which can push them to assert themselves more.
Instead, remind yourself that this will pass and that your kids are normally well-behaved. Pick your battles, too—if they want to wear a bib all evening long, let them. Reserve your attention for more important issues like safety and hygiene.
And apologize for your own bad behavior—kids aren’t the only ones who misbehave. Say sorry for your mistakes so they know you make them, too.
These bad days can make you react immaturely and in ways you wouldn’t be proud of. Even after practicing mindful parenting and remaining calm on most days, you can still make mistakes and lose your patience.
Rest assured, you can always repair a bad parenting day.
Praise your kids’ positive behavior and give them the attention they likely crave. Allow a simple treat or change the scenery. Get your bodies moving or do something productive together. And most importantly, see the situation from a different perspective—you can draw more patience and compassion when you do.
And perhaps this can be a gentle reminder that you have your bad days, too—just like your kids.
Get more tips:
- How to Respond When Your 3 Year Old Tantrums Every Day
- When Your Child Seems to Ruin Everyone’s Day
- How to Be the “Bad Guy” and Still Parent Effectively
- How to Deal with a Child Who Cries Over Everything
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