It is barely 8:00 am and you feel as though the day should be half over (if not completely over) based on how early your toddler or preschooler woke up and the overall tone of whining and nagging that has ensued since before the sun was up. You are in the process of rethinking your entire sleep regime and at the same time considering how you can salvage your plans for the day now that they seem unattainable.
Helping your toddler or preschooler regroup after a difficult start to the day can be challenging and this is generally worsened by your own frustrations or exhaustion. It is important to remember in these moments that we all have bad days...even our children. Unfortunately, toddlers and preschoolers typically lack the ability to articulate what is leading them to feel cranky, tired, or uncomfortable. As parents we need to remember to give our children (and ourselves) some breathing room in these moments. Identify the essential tasks that must get done and consider pushing everything else to another day.
Just recently this scenario played out in our home. Big A woke up at 5 am and from the start struggled to make his way through anything without whining, getting frustrated, or breaking into tears. After a few hours of trying to help him regroup (unsuccessfully) I just walked away from the situation. I didn't physically go anywhere, but I gave Big A his own space. I remained in my office while he played in the playroom and I didn't interject when I heard him become frustrated with an activity. The end result was a happier, settled child about 30-45 minutes later when we reconnected. What did he do during this time? I overheard some play with Little A, but otherwise I am not exactly sure. We reconnected over an invite to see the "puppy area" he built out of pillows from the couch, and otherwise the playroom look exactly as it did earlier.
It is hard to imagine how quickly our little ones grow up and how in these moments where they appear to need our assistance they sometimes need a little space of their own. Knowing when to help your child through a challenge and when to let them work through it on their own is not always so obvious. Sometimes a change of scenery is a quick fix and other times abandoning the best-laid plans (as hard as it might be) is ultimately the only way to remediate the situation. This is not to say that our children should run our lives and that we should alter our days around their mood(s), but there are circumstances where an adjustment is feasible or necessary.
What are some of our tried and true strategies when we encounter a difficult day? Here are a few of our favorites:
When the day already has less structure to it:
When the day involves plans that cannot be easily altered:
What are you best strategies for navigating a tough day? How do you determine the right kind of support for your little one?
ABOUT CHRISSY K
I am mom to three boys (one with several life-threatening food allergies) who will never own too many picture books or create Pinterest-worthy snacks. Simply Chrissy K is a place to find helpful tips on parenting that stem from my work with families and design ideas based on our adventures building a home from the ground up.
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Based on a work at http://www.strongtots.com