Helping kids recover from a bad day at school

Sep 18, 2023

Kids are faced with all sorts of different challenges at school and can come home with a multitude of different emotions and moods at the end of the day.  When it's a good day, we are so happy to celebrate with them.  But when kids have a bad day at school and are struggling through challenges, what do you do as a parent?  Is your first instinct to try to help solve it or fix their feelings so they can feel better?

If that’s you, know that you’re not alone as it’s a common response for many well-intentioned parents.  We want to help our kids, but unfortunately, this response often backfires instead of helping.

When kids face challenges at school, it’s stressful for them and for you.  As parents, we want to have the right answers and know how to help.  Unfortunately, we tend to approach the situation with our child logically.  We start asking lots of questions to better understand, or we try to offer solutions — but more often than not that tends to turn our kids off.

When you try to talk a child through a bad mood or heightened emotions, your child is more likely to escalate than calm down.

The alternative is to just be present for them when they come home from a bad day at school.  Accept their frustration or pain, and don’t try to solve it.  Just be there for them and support them.  You can just say, “Wow - it sounds like it was a really tough day for you”.

While you may find it easier than trying to come up with answers to help solve their problem, it can also be emotionally difficult to sit through a difficult situation with your child without trying to fix it.  But it’s worth it.

Kids just want to be heard and feel understood.   When we can handle their moods and BIG feelings and be there to support them as they go through them, it opens up opportunities for them to thrive and it deepens our connection with them.  

When you embrace and get comfortable with this concept, parenting can get easier because you don't always have to know the answer — you just have to be there.

Please note, this doesn’t mean that we can’t help our kids brainstorm ideas to work through difficult situations.  It’s just that your kids can’t access that part of their brain until they’re through their emotions so always connect emotionally first.  

I have a number of LIVE parent workshops coming up that are FREE and open to the public!

If you are a parent with a child that struggles with BIG feelings and they’re a problem in your house, join us at the Perley Elementary in Georgetown, MA on Tuesday, September 26th for the How to Parent Through BIG Feelings workshop. Learn what drives your child's big feelings, mistakes many parents make when parenting through them, and tools you can use to help so you can parent more confidently and effectively.  Click here for more information and to register.

Join the Confident Parenting Community.

Receive the latest tips and tools from the Confident Parenting Toolbox to support your kids
(and yourself!) with today's challenges so your whole family can thrive.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.