How to Recover From a Bad Day With Your Kids


Some days are just not good days. If I haven’t slept well, or I am stressed out, arguing with my husband or aren’t the attentive mother with lots of surplus energy for my kids, which I aim to be – I tend to feel guilty.

I feel guilty because I know I can do better and I know I can be a better wife, mother or woman, instead of losing my good temper and reacting from deep down in my default settings. That place where I see myself do or say things I wish I had never said or done. It happens.

I can handle almost everything, but the worst scenarios are those where I hurt my children in a moment of inattention. I may snap at them or behave like a spoiled 13-year-old, which isn’t beautiful. Maybe you know what I mean? Forgetting my adult responsibility and acting very childishly and wrongly. Well, I am not perfect but, luckily for me, those moments don’t happen very often.

I used to hate those days when the dream of always being ahead of things and behaving sensibly, maturely and rationally was punctured, but as I have grown older, I have learned to be kinder to myself. I still feel guilty though, but I am not too harsh on myself anymore. It doesn’t help to mourn my mistakes and since I can’t change the past, I take my responsibility as a grown up seriously and clean up after me.

I do that by getting back to those people I may have hurt and tell them that I regret my behavior. It is the way in which I feel most true to myself and the people around me.

To my kids it has always been important for me to tell them (and show them), that it is ok to fail. That we all make mistakes and that sometimes we behave irrationally and inappropriately. It is a part of life.

If we have somehow ended up in an argument, I make sure to tell them that it wasn’t their fault and explain to them that I just had a bad day, and it wasn’t my intention to hurt them and then I apologize.

Regardless of how our disagreement started, I always take the responsibility, because it is me who is the adult. I may say that it is possible, that we both had a bad day – help my child to find words for it – but how it ended between us is entirely my responsibility.

I know I am just human and I know that perfection does not exist, not in my life, anyway. Life has taught me that being less critical and less perfect gives me a kind of freedom to unfold and become a more honest and authentic person.

To truly recover from a bad day, I make it cozy at home, I light some candles, prepare a nice snack and gather my family around me. I love playing games with my children and I love reading fairytales or doing something fun. Even though my children may not have been a part of what happened earlier – to me, recovering always includes my family. Sharing fun, hyggelige and sincere moments together are where we become stronger together, and that’s where we are refueled again with love and good energy.


ibenIben Sandahl is the best-selling author of The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids. She is a Danish parenting expert, narrative psychotherapist MPF, teacher and speaker. She has more than 20 years of experienced insight into child psychology and education, which in a most natural way anchor the Danish way of practicing parenthood. Her book is translated into 18 languages. You can visit Iben’s Facebook page or follow her on Instagram for more inspiration about parenting.

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