How to Help Your Child Get Through a Bad Day
While parents would love to protect their children all the time, there are going to be times when your child is hurting. Then, there will just be bad days – any parent of a toddler can attest to the likelihood of bad days. Parents can play a key role in teaching their children how to handle these difficult days. Let’s look at a few ways you can help your child get through a bad day.
Be a Good Listener
First, you must be a good listener. Allow your child to explain what is wrong without interrupting or putting your spin on the events. Parents may ask questions that allow their child to respond, but they should avoid asking in a demanding manner.
Watch Your Reaction
Your reaction is critical; therefore, make sure you do not overreact to what your child says. For instance, if your child expresses sadness over something trivial, if you dismiss it, you are dismissing your child’s feelings. Additionally, if you react with high emotion, it may cause your child to become more upset. For example, if your child senses your anxiety, it may make your child more upset.
Show your compassion by saying things like, “I am sorry you had a bad day” or “I am sorry you are feeling this way.” These comments show your child you have noticed their feelings and you care for them. Again, even if you think the reason for the difficult day is not that big if a deal, it is to your child. Therefore, you should extend some grace.
Show Physical Affection
If appropriate, show physical affection. While you should not force your child to hug or cuddle, some children do respond positively to physical touch when they have had a difficult day. Sometimes a hug from mom or dad is all they need to feel safe and loved.
Make Them Feel Safe
By listening and showing compassion, you are making your child feel safe talking to you. You can also make your child feel safe by sticking to your routine. Instead of allowing a bad day to throw everything off course, try to do what you would normally do. Routine feels safe to children because it allows them to know what to expect. Finally, remind them that they can trust you and that your home is a safe space.
After you have checked in, you may need to give your child some space. Some kids need time alone at the end of a difficult day. Others simply need a nap and a snack. You know your child best, so if you sense this is not the time to talk about it in depth, then step back and give him/her some space.
Read Books with Similar Situations
Books are great ways to learn how others deal with similar situations. For example, My No No No Day by Rebecca Patterson and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst both work well for showing bad days happen to everyone.
Parents play a significant role in helping their children through bad days and teaching them how to cope with these situations in the future.