We All Have Bad Days

A few weeks ago, my then almost-nine-year-old daughter woke up with emotions running high.  Within ten minutes of her being awake, she was in tears. This was very unusual for her, and I just let it go. She and her brothers solved whatever issue was going on and the morning went on.  Less than an hour later, she was in tears again as she started her school work and her tone of voice to someone (I don't remember who,) wasn't acceptable.  In that moment, I needed to make a decision.

I could have spoken sternly to her, disciplined her in some way, talked to her about using kind words.  But I knew that this wasn't the time.  The tears and frustration were out of character for her and my mothering instincts told me that on this day, in this moment, she needed something more that a reminder about kind words and actions. I suggested that she stop working on math and go to her bed and do her reading time.  She didn't want to.  The tears rolled faster.  I hugged her and held her and yet she couldn't gain control emotionally. I told her, "I'm sorry honey, but you are not in control of your emotions right now. Spend some time on your bed and calm down, and please join us when you are ready." She's heard this many times before—this was nothing new.

One part of raising girls that I take seriously is teaching them to deal with their emotions.  As women, our hormones run wild and our tears run fast.  We don't always know why we are upset, nor do we always know what to do about it.  The men in our lives usually want to know what is wrong so they can fix it.  But sometimes, as women, we just don't know and we need time.  Sometimes, we are just having a bad day.  From the time they are little, when our kids are not in control of their emotions, we have asked them to please go sit on their beds.  We make sure that they know that they are not being punished and that sometimes, people just need time alone in order to calm down.  I want to teach my girls that when the emotions are intense, one of the best things they can do is stop, think, breathe, and calm down.  Let their senses be at rest and the peace will come. They always know that when they have regained control and are ready to be part of the family again—complete with kind words and gentleness—that they are more than welcome to join us.  In fact, what we usually say is, "When you are ready, we will be excited to have you join us again!"  

And two notes for the record: 1) We do this with our boys, too, but in all the years I think they have each gone to their bed once or twice for breaking down emotionally whereas our girls visit their beds on a fairly regular basis. 2) Mama has times outs on her bed, too!

All of this to say, on this particular day, my spirit was prompted that my little girl needed more.  She needed to feel loved, not lectured.  She needed to feel valued, not disappointed in.  And so as I talked with her and asked her to sit on her bed, my heart was already in motion for a little surprise.

I got out our favorite Indian tray, made her favorite milky coffee,  opened a pack of Oreos (at 7:30 in the morning!), picked a flower from the backyard, wrote a little note, and got my Kindle so she could continue reading Heidi.  I then carried her tray into her, told her how much I loved her, and that I would see her when she was ready.

About 30 minutes later I heard the door open slowly.  My sweet girl had replaced her tears with smiles and the rest of the day went on as if nothing had happened.

Sometimes parenting is letting our spirit be prompted to do the little things that will make our children feel loved.  Little surprises.  Little acts of grace.  Little extra bits of love thrown in where we would rather throw criticism. We all have bad days, and a little bit of love goes a long way.


14 thoughts on “We All Have Bad Days

  1. Mandy Clark

    Thank you for this! It is fabulous. As a mother to a 2 year old, I can see these moments down the road. I am saving this post in my favorites folder and I am sure I will refer to it as my little girl gets older. Thanks again for this blog. I feel like most entries are written directly to me 🙂 Keep up the good work!

  2. Pam (Luter) Wickman

    Janet, this was perfect for my thoughts today. I have an emotional 11 yr old and compassion and mercy seems to be my last action for dealing with it. We too, have a “take a break” plan for our kids. I needed the reminder to add a little extra smile and let her happily work whatever it is out. I’m thinking tonight needs to be a manicure girls night to refresh a bit.

  3. Shannon Smart

    Wow, thank you so much for this post. I need to remember that I’m not the only one in my house who has crazy, sometimes uncontrollable emotions. I love the idea of giving kids some time to regroup on their own – and allow myself the chance to do the same. Thanks for all of your honest, inspiring and Godly insights!

  4. cari-jane

    never mind the children….I think this post was good for ME (in a house full of men and boys I am outnumbered…I will def. remember to just take some time out on my own the next time…I can only hope that someone will bring me coffee and cookies 🙂 )

  5. Diane E

    Wow. Thank you for sharing this. Another perspective take that I didn’t think about. I too deal with the many emotional issues that comes with raising girls…and I have always taking to the philosophy of not catering too much to their “drama” etc…I would say the same thing…”yes, honey, i know you’re upset…but no reason to make everyone around you mserable or a reason to be rude/mean…go to your room..cry, do what you need and when you feel better, come join the family” etc….but I wanted to THANK YOU for taking it one step further and showing me, how sometimes they need something a little out of the blue special (milk and cookies always does the trick!) to let them know it’s ok. I will try to remember this more often! 🙂

    1. Janet Post author

      Yea, it’s a hard balance. There are definitely times when they (or we!) just need to sort out our emotions. And then there are those times when people just need a little something more. I know that there I times that I would love a little something more, even if I am being emotional and overly dramatic. So why anything less for our kids? It teaches our girls that we love them and shows our boys how to deal with those delicate female emotions!

  6. Tia

    Oh my goodness. This is my first post to read from your blog and I’m already in love. What an amazing lesson for mothering our young girls!

  7. Pam (Luter) Wickman

    Janet, we did get our manicures! It was such a wonderful time. We even got lunch together. I love my big girl and need to pamper her a bit more often. You could tell she just needed time to be her silly self and just not do school, chores or be a big sister. All things she is great at, but I enjoyed HER so much.

  8. Traci

    Janet – I just found your website and I have already shared an article on my personal FB site. Now, I read this. I have a 2 year old and a 3 year old daughter. I happen to be a very emotional person and I already see my 3 year old acting out with crazy emotions. Just this morning I was reminding myself that she acts that way because she sees her Mom act that way. I need to treat them like I want to be treated. I need to give myself some time on the bed if needed. I am going to try this and want to say thank you for your wisdom!


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