This was originally posted by the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub here.

Have you had one of those days recently where you just feel down and nothing seems to cheer you up? Perhaps you spilled your coffee before you could even take a drink and then you stepped on that same toy that your child keeps leaving out in the same spot…no matter how many times you’ve asked them to put it away when they are done. It has happened to all of us and unfortunately it’s probably likely to happen again! Usually, we can just chalk this up to one bad day or a bad week perhaps…but we try to give ourselves some grace and start again with better hopes for the next day.

My question is…do we offer this same grace to our kids? I know I have to pause quite a bit at that question. I’ve mentioned before how I have a tendency to raise my voice when my kids do something they know they shouldn’t or show defiant behavior, but I also think sometimes I jump straight to the idea that they are deliberately acting out or choosing behaviors they know are wrong “just because”. I feel like more often I should be thinking: “are they just having a bad day today?”

Maybe we don’t think about this as often because we think of our kids as carefree and having fun and playing most of the day, but our kids can definitely have bad days too. Our kids can feel more of our pain and stress than we know…perhaps our bad day is stressing them out too. There are a lot of emotions and feelings going through the brain of a little one and they are still trying to figure out how to handle them all. Some days that may be easier, and some days it may seem downright impossible.

Some advice that I think I need and I hope can help you as well…remember that our kids have bad days too…and acknowledge that. It doesn’t excuse their behavior, but helping them realize that some days are harder than others and encouraging them to feel all of their emotions…and learn from them can help make the bad days a little less difficult, and hopefully encourages them to learn how they can handle their feelings better next time.

This is fatherhood…