Things Not Going Your Way? This Life Lesson Isn’t Just Kid Stuff

Sometimes no matter how organized, positive, or prepared we are for all that we have to do, it just doesn’t go as planned.

We all have bad days here and there – both parents and kids.

But the days where nothing seems to go right can really affect how we treat those we love most.

Being hungry, tired, or off our routines can make small things seem like the end of the world (and that’s just us parents!) – and it can be difficult to turn a day around when the frustration and crankiness spreads through the family.

So how can we reconnect with our kids when either we or they are having a bad day?

Our instinct may be to write off a bad day as a loss and say, “tomorrow’s another day.”  But with a few simple techniques – and, yes, some patience – you don’t have to wait until the next day to start fresh.

More than anything, we want our families to be connected – to love and respect one another in good times and bad.  So reconnecting after a tantrum, an argument, or when something happens that throws our day off is vital.

Stress is ever-present when you’re a parent, especially when something unexpected happens.

You or your husband got into a fender-bender and you have to deal with the insurance company.  Your basement floods during a storm.  You get an unexpected large bill that you just don’t know how you’re going to pay for.  These things happen in life, and they compound the everyday stress that we go through.

Often our first reaction to stress is a “flight” response.  We just want to put our head in our hands for a moment or scream in frustration.  And we are all aware that there is little time to take a moment to breathe when we have small children at home.

We may even lose our cool with them and say things we don’t mean.  But our kids depend on us to model patience and calmness during the tough times.  When we overreact, it teaches them to do so.

Or maybe we’re having a positive and productive day, but our kids are tired or sick and losing it at every small thing that doesn’t go their way.  They cannot be consoled, and if we’re honest, they’re driving us totally crazy!

When the day starts to go south, no matter who in the family is having a hard time, it’s time for a fresh start.  Easier said than done, we know, but allowing the “bad” day to continue is going to make it worse in the long run.

First, it is important to keep your plans for the day if possible.  The last thing we may want to do is go to a friend’s house or out to lunch when everyone is in a bad mood.  But redirecting the negativity by taking a break from the house can help everyone to refocus their energy on something positive.

It may even be more important on these bad days to find an activity to do together.  In fact, families should plan on some kind of “connective” activity several times a week.

It reinforces the message that family sticks together in good times and bad and helps everyone to put the day into perspective.

Sometimes the bad days are actually the best times to connect – to make the bad day a good day.

When everything is going wrong, the kids are fighting, and the house is falling apart, our instinct may be to separate and go off in our own corners to cool off.

But the opposite approach of sitting down together to talk it out – to vent our frustrations and seek comfort in each other – is the stuff that strong families are built on.

This open communication with young children helps them to bring their frustrations and disappointments to their family and will help them to continue to do so when the really major issues come up as they get older.

And when someone in the family is angry, frustrated, or overwhelmed, it is important to reinforce the idea that our love is unconditional.

We may not like a behavior they exhibited or the way they treated their sibling, but we still love them.  Our kids need to know that we want to spend time with them – especially during the tough days.

Once you have reconnected and given the family a fresh start, it’s a great idea to sit down and see where it went wrong that day – and then celebrate what did go right and how you turned the day around.

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This teaches kids gratitude and thankfulness and gives them a “big picture” mentality that they will need as they grow.

Her View From Home has some great ideas for things to say when someone in the family is having a bad day:

I love you. The first thing, because it’s the most important thing.  I’m praying for you. Great to say…even better to do.  I’m already proud of you. How I feel about you does not depend on how this day turns out.  I’m here for you. Sometimes, there is peace just in presence.  Do you want a hug? Is that what would help most for starters?  I really, really love you. In case you missed it the last time I told you.

You can introduce these to your kids when they are having a bad day and we’ll bet they will come to you and do the same next time your day isn’t going so well!

Remember, the next time you think that the day is a loss and you just don’t even want to try, that is the most important time to double-down and try even harder to turn things around.  It’s a great life lesson for the kids – and for moms and dads too!

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” really can work, and you’ll be happy with the result that redirecting a bad day into a positive experience can have.

What do you do in your family when you or your kids are having a really bad day?  Leave us your advice in the comments.