What to do when your child’s (or your) day is not going has planned.
Rarely, does my day go as I envision in my head. Let me be a little more honest and change that rarely, to never. In my ideal day of bliss and productivity and joyous, generous moments, I don’t plan for chaos or the unexpected. I don’t schedule in the sibling battles or the schoolwork struggles. I have a cute little schedule on our fridge that maps out our daily activities from 8am to 10pm and nowhere on there do I have a colored in time specifically for temper tantrums, hunger meltdowns, poor attitudes, or bedtime drama.
“Wait!! That’s it. Maybe I should!” I excitedly announce. “Plan for it?” you ask. “Are you crazy?” you continue. “Well, I may be a little crazy, but hear me out,” I reply.
Brian Tracy, a man who has built his career on helping others reach their goals and achieve success, says:
Imagine the worst possible outcomes. Then prepare for them. Then you’ll be ready for whatever comes your way.
Hopefully, the very worst doesn’t happen, but you’ll already have a plan in place and be set to take action. In addition, if you are prepared for the chaos, you’ll be able to conquer it in a much calmer manner.
You then say, “Okay, I hear you. This just might work. What do you suggest when things start to overheat? What are some ideas to have ready for the less than perfect day?” “Well, I am glad you asked,” I reply. “Whether it’s one of the kids having a challenging moment or one of the parents, here are some ideas to try.”
Check the basics. All too often I think we overlook this as being a simple fix to many issues. Is your child hungry? Lacking sleep? Or just not feeling well? All these things can easily throw one’s emotional balance and behavior off. The good thing is the provide a pretty easy fix as well.
Space. I don’t mean as in outer space. (Although, I did tell a good friend today that I was going to send my boys to the moon, so if I can remedy it as an option, I’ll get back to you as to how.) What I really mean though is separate whoever is having a temporary crisis, even if it doesn’t involve anyone else.
When my kids need some space to regain perspective on a situation, I send them to their rooms. Yes, that is called a time-out. The first time they get sent to their rooms, they can decide how long they need to stay there. If they want to walk in their door, turn around and walk back out, that is fair. However, if they get sent back to their room shortly thereafter – then I decide how long they will stay there.
When I need space, you can usually find me sorting the laundry and watching a few minutes of Netflix.
Hugs. Sometimes we just need some attention and affection for a boost of energy and encouragement. A hug has been known to be strong enough to end what might have turned into a spiral of negative behavior.
Smile. Depending on the appropriateness of the situation and the personality of the kiddo, the flash of a goofy smile might make an upset little (or big) monster into a laughing and more relaxed little prince or princess. A smile can completely turn a situation around. Use with caution, however, because used in the wrong way, it could hurt someone’s feelings and escalate the moment.
Dance party. Turn on some upbeat, mood changing music for a song a two. Dance around if feel you up to it.
Change the frequency. Dab on or diffuse some essential oils. Some of our favorites for settling down are Young Living’s Lemon, Joy, Grounding, and Peace and Calming. This article Emotional Healing and Raising your Vibration shares more.
Hide it. Electronics, such as phones, tablets and computers, and the Wii, all tend to cause a lot of trouble around here. Of course these gadgets can be a lot of fun, but they are also huge distractions. So, when they tend to get over played or over asked for or when fits are thrown because they’re told “No, you may not play right now,” they disappear for a while. Sometimes, a long while. Whatever it may be, if it is creating unnecessary commotion, poor behavior, or distracted kids, hide it for a bit. (We even had to take books away from a relentless reader at one point until other schoolwork and chores were finished.)
Use someone else. Is there someone your child looks up to? Maybe there is a favorite teacher, a special relative, or even a cartoon character that your child would like to impress. I am sure that person, real or fictitious, would gladly help put things into perspective. You could say, “I think Big Bird would be sad to see you acting this way. He wants to see you being nice and happy.” Make sure you are talking in a sincere voice.
Reach out. If you have a real person that your child could call and talk with for a bit to calm down, that may work too. Or suggest that after the child calms down, maybe she could call that special person. That would be good motivation. This works for adults too. If you are flipping out a bit, call or text someone you know will redirect you. You don’t even have to tell them there is any sort of problem, just allow yourself to think about something else for a bit.
Chat about it. Sometimes you can simply move on from a sticky situation and sometimes you need to have a discussion. I don’t think every situation needs a long drawn out talk. When you do talk however, make sure you are calm, not looking for a fight, or even looking to be right. Around here we have a lot of reminders that they should not talk to or treat others in a mean or rude way and it is also not okay to treat mom, dad, or siblings like that either.
Reality check. It’s also important to share with your kids that they do have what is important and what they need. It might not be the right time for that shiny new bike or a 3000 piece Lego set. It’s okay if they don’t get to play video games for a day or a month. They are loved. They are fed healthy food. They have a bed to sleep in, a roof over their heads to keep them warm, safe, and dry.
It is equally important for adults to know that things are okay. For myself, I need to realize rough days will pass. That I won’t love my kids any less if they haven’t practiced their music or I needed to hound them for hours to get their jobs done. I haven’t freaked out about the dishes piling up on the counter for a long time. It’s not worth my energy to worry about it. It will get done. The important things are in place.
Apologize. Last on this list, but possibly first on your list of tools to fix things. There are two ways you can use an apology to help someone. You may need to express empathy for others having a less than perfect day. “You seem to be having a rough day. I’m sorry. Is there something I can do to help?” The other way, of course, is if you have acted in a way or said something that was hurtful or unkind, you need to apologize. Sincere apologies cover wrongs that you didn’t intend to commit as well as those that were mistakes when maybe you weren’t at your friendliest.
I once told one of my sons, who was being naughty, that I was going to take him to Africa to live with the zebras. Long story, short – what I blurted out in sarcasm, he internalized way deeper. I no doubt had to apologize and offer reassurance.
Next time you need some arsenal against THIS IS THE WORST DAY EVER!, you can put some of these ideas in your mental toolbox. Then again, sometimes when the day is just plain out of control, you may need to surrender. Pop some popcorn and crash in front of the TV to watch a movie. Wave the white flag, recharge, and restart.
What are some of your fabulous ways redirect negative attitudes or behavior, in your kids (or yourself)? Please share in the comments section below; I’d love to add more ideas in my mental toolbox.
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