As a parent, when your child hurts, you hurt. While you would love to protect your children all the time, there will be times when that isn’t possible. Your child will get his or her feelings hurt, a friend might let them down, or they might just have a bad day. Whatever the cause for the bad day, you play a key role in teaching your child how to handle difficult days. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can help turn your child’s frown upside down when they have a bad day.
Listen to Your Child
In the development and cognitive growth of a healthy child, autonomy is a glorious thing. Put simply, your child can express themselves, take control of their actions, and take on responsibilities. As a parent, your role is to encourage autonomy by being a good listener and validating your child’s feelings. Allow your child to explain what is wrong without interrupting or putting your spin on the events. Feel free to ask questions if your child allows, but avoid asking in a demanding or intrusive manner.
Let’s face it. A bad day for a child usually is trivial compared to a bad day for an adult. Still, it’s important to validate your child in what they’re going through. Say things like, “I’m sorry you had a bad day, I understand how that feels” or “I’m sorry things didn’t go as planned, that’s really frustrating.” These comments show your child that you noticed their feelings, and you care for them.
Hugs make everything better for so many people. If your child had a bad day, try offering them physical reassurance in the form of a hug. Remember, honor your child’s autonomy if they reject physical affection. But sometimes, a hug from mom or dad is all your child needs to feel safe and valued.
Give Them Space
After you’ve taken the time to check in with your child, it might be a good idea to give them some space to process their feelings. Some kids need time alone at the end of a hard day; others may need a snack or a nap. You know your child best, so if you sense that it’s not the time to talk, take a step back and give them space.
When your child has a bad day, the most important thing you can do is validate them, listen to them, and hold space for their feelings. Our team at ELCA does just that. We have a team of wonderful, caring staff who go above and beyond for our children at ELCA. For information about our childcare services, contact us!