How to Support Your Child When They Have a Bad Day

Children cannot handle conflict in the same ways that adults can.  They need guidance and much encouragement to baby step through a hard day. ~Christin Slade

It seems whenever I have a really difficult day, I don’t have a hard time making it known. True, I pray for help and strength to get through whatever the obstacle might be. But the last thing I need is for someone to snap at me or push me through the day without the encouragement of some sort.

Typically what we expect from loved ones is encouragement and patience through a hard day, rather than the opposite.

But, do we do this for our children when they have difficult days? Or do we dismiss their feelings of struggle and generally expect them to handle such situations as an adult would (or should)? I will be the first to admit, the Holy Spirit smacked me in the head with this one.

This is exactly what I was expecting of my [then] 7-year old daughter, and I then wondered why I wasn’t getting the results I wanted. When she has a hard day, even for seemingly unknown reasons (even to her), I just tend to push her through it with little or no encouragement. I automatically expect her to “deal with it” or “get passed it” with little help or guidance. Looking back now it’s really quite absurd that I handled it that way!

Children cannot handle conflict in the same ways that adults can.

They need guidance and much encouragement to baby step through a hard day. That’s where we come in. We need to come alongside our children and assure them we are there for them and make it known they can count on us to guide them.

Before applying these suggestions, be sure your child isn’t having a discipline issue that needs attention. Sometimes our children go through a season of testing us to see if the rules still apply. It’s our job to make that season a short one!

Here are some constructive responses to help our children through difficult days:

1. Take a time-out to pray and explore God’s Word together

There is no better way to spend time then searching the Word for help and encouragement as well as praying for guidance and perseverance with our children. On those hard days, they may need that extra dose to carry them through. This points them to their number one Source of comfort, help, and encouragement. Seek to help them with their problem here.

2. Take time later to pray and explore God’s Word alone

This will give you an opportunity to seek God for help, wisdom, and direction in what might be the problem. God says He will give wisdom, without reservation, to all who ask. (James 1:5)

3. Reevaluate the schedule

If you recognize this type of occurrence becoming frequent, you may need to make changes to the daily schedule, such as an earlier bed time. Perhaps something needs to be removed from the schedule or a subject may need to be moved to earlier or later in the day. Still, maybe a subject is given more time then the child can handle. Observe your child and look for clues.

4. Reevaluate the method

Is the method of homeschooling I’m using really working for my child? Or do I use it simply because it’s what I like? This can be a tough one. This may require some serious observations and notes in order to capture the best way our child learns so we can better speak their language.

These are only a few suggestions to what may help some recurring bad attitudes or bad days. I can speak for myself and say that I have been guilty of not doing anything to help my child during a hard day or through a bad attitude. Our children’s “bad days” can be seen as an opportunity to teach them how to cope with stress and handle situations that are less than ideal in their eyes. These are skills they will need as adults and should be treated as important as (if not more than) academics.

I know I need to keep in mind that bad attitudes and bad days are going to happen…even when we do “all the right things.”

The important thing to remember is to guide my children to the Cross. I can use this as an opportunity to show them God’s grace and help them problem solve. After all, even I haven’t perfected how to avoid bad days and bad attitudes!

For His Glory,

Christin