Have you had a difficult day dealing with your child today? You are having a hard time making sense of why they are acting so irrationally? Why they are giving you an attitude or why they are acting “more sensitive” today?
Well, think about all your bad days. As parents and adults, we have days when we are more sensitive and have less of a threshold for situations and people in our days. That is ok! We brush it off as “ I am having an off day”, “I don’t know why I am not in the mood today”, “It’s just one of those days for me”.
Guess what? Children are also just like us. They have off days, they have tired days, they have days when they are just not in the mood, they simply have “one of those days”.
Sometimes it is helpful to think about what we expect from others when we are having a bad day. Do we expect our coworkers to leave us alone? Or for our family members to give us space and not have too many expectations of us for that day? For our partner or people close to us to provide support emotionally? We all have our own ways of dealing with “one of those days”.
Now, it is important for us to give our children the grace of having “one of those days”— to allow them to say NO if they are asked to do something, to say NOT TODAY. This is a normal human reaction; it is not your child refusing to obey or to show lack of compliance.
Normalize your child’s feelings on those days. Use it as an opportunity to show acceptance and unconditional love. Use it as an opportunity to connect and secure their attachment to you by saying “I am here if you need anything”. Give them a hug and let them know that you respect their boundaries if they need time alone or if they are not able to tend to their responsibilities and chores today.
If you miss this opportunity, you are creating disconnection. If they are having “one of those days” and you hound them about their chores, you call them names “lazy”, “you just won’t listen”, “There is going to be a consequence for this”—you have just furthered the gap between you and your child. So, your child was having “one of those days” and they came home which should be their safe haven and now there you are adding to their already difficult day.
Things to do
- Let them know that it is ok to have an off day, that you, yourself sometimes have “one of those days”
- Let them know that you would like to have the opportunity to support them, be with them or help them sort through their feelings
- Let them know it is ok to rest, to have space and time and to set boundaries with you and the rest of the family
- Offer to breath with them, hold them or do an activity with them
- Help them learn what it is that they need on those days to calm and reset their nervous systems
- And most importantly, help them recognize and respect their own feelings