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Stressed and ready to shout? How to be a good parent on bad days

Do you ever notice that some days, you, as a parent, can take it all in your stride? Little man refuses to go to bed? That’s okay. You have the patience of the Dalai Lama tonight. You can sit with him, calm him, and soothe him back down.

But, other nights, you just can’t. You are already at breaking point. You just need him to sleep, and you raise your voice despite knowing that will cause the opposite outcome to what you both need.


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How to be a good parent on bad days

You are human

So many things will affect our ability to be what we want to be for our children. Stress is a big one. Stress from multiple areas in our lives, such as money worries, our relationships and jobs, will empty our patience and capacity to be present.


And here is the kicker…

When we start to be less present for our children due to external (and completely understandable) reasons, it can make them want or need us more. This, in turn, can just add to the stress. It is an unfortunate but completely normal cycle.


So what can we do?

We need to sit down and take a moment to look at all the things that may be individually affecting our capacity at this current moment. Take five minutes, make a cup of tea and actually think about all the things that you, as a parent/worker/partner, have going on that may be draining our unseen cup of capacity.

We need to check in regularly because, as adults, we will always have a list of demands on us. Some days, it will be more complicated than others, but we will always have some sort of list.

We will see that on the days when the list is much more complicated, it may be harder to be what we need and want to be for our children. This will probably also correlate to the days when our children act out and show us that they need us. We need to understand what is draining our unseen cup of capacity because it is very easy to blame whatever we see on the surface during this time.

It is easy to think you are feeling this way because of a bedtime battle or because your tween girl sassed her brother at the dinner table. We need to know what is blowing up our balloon of stress, not focus on the pin that pops it. We need to be kind to ourselves and pick our battles. We should look to connect with our kids rather than direct them. These are the days when it doesn’t matter if our little man sleeps in our bed. That is being kind to him and you.

By doing this, we fill up our unseen cup. We fill up theirs. We eat toast for dinner, put on a movie, snuggle up on the couch, and then do it all again tomorrow with, hopefully, a little more in our cup.


By Kimberley Harper, Parentline Manager
Sometimes, you just need someone to talk to. Parentline counsellors are here to help. Call daily between 8 am & 10 pm on 1300 30 1300, visit Parentline.com.au or WebChat between 8 am and 9 pm every day.


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