It’s unfair to ask someone, anyone, no matter how big or small, to be 100% positive all the time. Sometimes the day, week, season, just gets the better of us.
I’m here to say that’s okay.
As parents, we’re human and we’re bound to feel a little (or a lot) overwhelmed. But I’m also wondering why we don’t give that same freedom to our kids?
This is something that’s been on my heart a lot lately. I’m no master on the subject — I’ve struggled with these concepts, asked myself these questions. Let’s call it a work in progress. We’re working on granting a little grace in our home and so I wanted to share this with you.
Consider these two typical days — sound familiar? I know they do in my house.
You’ve had a long day. A stressful thing happened, and then someone needed your undivided attention, a meeting went long, a conversation didn’t go the way you’d planned. By the end of it all you aren’t managing your emotions as well as you’d like. You’re short tempered, uncooperative, moody, and rude.
You know you’re exhausted, maybe even hungry, so you give yourself a bit of a break and ask for a little grace from those around you.
Sounds acceptable, right?
Your Kid’s Day
Your kid has spent all day at daycare. They didn’t get to finish a craft, or it wasn’t their turn with the best toy in the play yard. They worked hard to remember the days of the week, repeating that song over and over and over again. Maybe they even spent some time learning new social techniques, or a new task. By the end they’re tired, definitely hungry, and just not handling things all that well.
They’re moody, they’re not listening, they’re making bad choices. You ask yourself, “where is the smiling, giggling, polite kid I worked so hard to raise?”
At this point you swoop in to correct the behaviour, maybe scold them or punish them for being rude.
These scenarios differ only in how we expect our littles to react after a hard day versus how we expect ourselves to react. We give ourselves a pass, but not our kids.
High Standards For All
As parents, how often do we do the very things we scold our kids for?
Ignore them when they try to speak to us.
Stomp around, huff, slam doors.
Shout at someone.
And we have reasons, we can usually justify our behaviour. But what about our kids’ reasons?
Reasons are valid, the behaviour is not. We all need to check ourselves. Our kids are little humans, and they deserve to be treated as such, bad days and all.
In our house, we try to establish high standards for everyone in the household. We know bad days happen, we allow for the full range of human emotions, and show compassion when those emotions get the best of us.
A Bad Day Isn’t a Free Pass
This isn’t about letting our kids get by with less than desirable behaviour. I mean, hey, we’re still there to parent them, right?
Instead, it’s about establishing that having an off day happens, but taking it out on those around us like a thunderstorm at sea isn’t the best way to handle it.
This is where we get to teach, to raise, to parent.
Teach them how to handle their emotions — fear, anger, sadness, frustration. These are big feelings that need guidance to manage.
Teach them it’s not okay to be rude to people just because they’re grumpy.
Teach them that projecting negative emotions onto others is unfair.
Being grumpy is okay, punishing those around you is not — we are all responsible for our behaviour and the consequences that come with it.