What to do when your toddler is having a 'bad day'

There are some days when it seems like your toddler woke up on the wrong side of the bed. They're cranky and uncooperative right from the morning, and you can't put a finger on what's bothering them. Sometimes, this happens on days when you are least prepared to deal with it.

It's not always because of one reason. Just like us, toddlers wake up in a bad mood on some days. Maybe they didn't sleep well, or are coming down with something, or were just expecting something else for breakfast! The upsetting feelings they experience may have a domino effect on the rest of the day, and they become increasingly uncooperative.

From what I've experienced, it's best to focus on making your toddler feel better instead of worrying about the underlying reasons. A 'pick me up' will often do the trick, like a favourite treat, or a fun activity. This may return things to normal ('toddler' normal, that is!).

If the unsettling behaviour lasts longer and you're experiencing what you may term 'difficult' behaviour, the first thing you need to do is change your perspective. Instead of the behaviour, observe the emotions your toddler displays.

Do they appear tired, upset, or trying to get your attention? Is there some big event, such as moving homes, which they have difficulty coping with? Unlike adults, who may get over these changes faster, toddlers may take a long time to adjust to big changes. They may be reacting to something you may have forgotten about.

What to do when your toddler is having a 'bad day' or being difficult.

So, what do you do when your toddler is having a bad day?

Put away the distractions.

Yours, not your toddlers. Seriously, put down that phone or whatever has been getting too much of your attention. Even if you don't realize it, children do notice when their parents spend extra time on phones or handhelds. They may try to get your attention in any way. This has worked for me in the past. Simply giving your toddler your complete attention can calm them down.

Listen, and ask questions.

Toddlers talk a lot, and it's hard to keep up. But try to listen to what they're telling you. You may have heard the same thing many times, but show your interest and ask questions. Get around to asking about what they're feeling. They may not be able to communicate much, but your showing empathy towards them will help.

Sit down and play.

This may seem obvious. But with our crazy routines, it does become difficult to actually sit down and play with your toddler. It's easy to give them toys, or an activity, so you can catch up with your tasks. However, the one thing they crave most is that you join them in play. Even if they have siblings, your toddler will feel special if you sit down and play at their level.

Look out for aggression.

Since they aren't always good at communicating feelings, toddlers will try to release their emotions through anger or aggression. You may observe them being rough with their toys, getting in fights with siblings, or even trying to push your buttons. This is usually a sign that they need immediate attention. Make it a priority to do all you can to calm your toddler. Different techniques work for every child. Going for a day out may help, or just snuggling up and reading books.

Re-look at the sleeping schedule.

Tiredness is another major cause of 'difficult' behaviour. Consider whether your toddler needs to sleep longer, or whether you need to re-introduce daytime naps. Are there any reasons they may not be sleeping well? Look for ways to help them sleep better.

A little R&R, and lots of love is bound to turn around your toddler's day. Wouldn't it make yours?

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Balroop Singh said...

You must be a very understanding and loving mother Tarana! Love you for being so calm and patient with your child. Stay blessed!

Nina G said...

Tarana I also find that removing distractions is a big help! Our kids' needs are met and we can focus completely on them.

Tarana said...

Thank you, Balroop. I'm hardly perfect and have my bad days too, but try to keep it together as much as I can.

Tarana said...

Very much, and it helps us think clearer too.

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