5 Things Kids Want to Hear When They’re Having a Bad Day

The JV coach asked me to come up in front of the entire team. I had gotten injured during tryouts and spent the entire week working to get back on the field, but I was still sidelined. He praised my work ethic and even encouraged everyone to have the same heart I had shown. And then he cut me from the team, in front of everyone. I was caught off guard, confused, and embarrassed. I gathered my stuff and headed home dazed and discouraged. It was a bad day.

That night, I told my parents what happened. They were both sorry and supportive. Then my dad said something I’ll never forget. He said, “You’ll overcome this.” I asked him why he thought that. He told me that every time I faced anything difficult, I didn’t let it stop me. Then he went further: “You really amaze me.” Suddenly, my bad day wasn’t as bad anymore. A simple sentence or two can make a huge difference for our kids when they’re having a tough one. Here are 5 things your kids want you to say when they’re having a bad day.

1. “I’m sorry you’ve had a bad day.”

Never start with solutions, even when you have the perfect one. That’s not what they’re looking for. Start with understanding and empathy. Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” They need to know you hear them and feel the struggle with them.

2. Nothing. They just want a hug.

One of our contributors, Ted Lowe, shared a story on the All Pro Dad podcast. His daughter was having a panic attack. He tried a lot of things to calm her down. The thing that worked was sitting next to her arm to arm, breathing with her, and singing to her. Sometimes it’s not what we say. Just putting our arms around our kids may be exactly what they need.

3. “Do you want to go get ice cream?”

Sometimes they just need a sweet distraction to let them know it’s not the end of the world. There will be other days better than this one. But in the meantime, ice cream makes everything better. Or maybe you watch their favorite show or play their favorite video game with them. Do something that’ll give them a break from their day.

4. “I’m proud of you.”

When our kids experience a bad day, they often feel lonely and beaten down. Encouraging them helps restore some of the self-confidence that may have taken a hit. Communicate specific things about your kids that make you proud. Accomplishments are fine, but try to focus on who they are, on their personality traits like character, perseverance, kindness, selflessness, faithfulness, creativity, honesty, humility… A bad day doesn’t change a kid’s beauty and value.

5. “I’ve had days like this too.”

One of the best gifts you can give your kids in times of trouble is hope. Sharing your experiences and bad days will let them know that they’re not alone and even more so that the pain won’t last forever. You are an example of how it can be overcome. Tell them about some of your worst days and what you did. Romans 12:12 says, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.” Encourage each of those when your child is having a bad day.

Sound off: What do you say to your kids when they’re having a bad day?

For more words kids want to hear check out this episode of the All Pro Dad podcast:

Huddle up with your kids an ask, “What are some things you want to hear when you’re having a tough day?”