We’ve all been there. The toddler wakes up in the morning and you immediately know it’s going to be a rough day. They’re whining, crying, and fighting with their siblings before you can even pour your coffee. They’re in a sour mood and want the world to know it.

Or maybe they woke up happy, but for some inexplicable toddler reason that you will never understand, they’re an emotional wreck by 10 am.

Here are some of my tried and true tricks to get your little person in better spirits so you can all enjoy your day.

Go Outside If The Weather Allows It.

Everyone feels better in the fresh air, especially a toddler who’s going stircrazy indoors. Let them get outside and run off some of that energy. A stroller ride is good, but if they’re able, make them walk. You’ll be guaranteed a tired kid for nap time (who doesn’t want that!) and the exercise is beneficial anyway.

Pick up sticks, leaves, and pinecones. Look for squirrels. Chase butterflies. Take your time and savour the moment, even if they’re still in a bad mood. And if they’re still in a horrendous mood, at least whining is more tolerable outdoors than enclosed spaces. Silver lining, right?

Get Them in Water.

Whether that’s the kiddie pool in the yard, the bathtub, or if you’re blessed to live close enough, the lake. Playing in water is a sure way to reset the day. I have a set of bathtub markers that I keep aside and pull out for those times when Little 1 is having a terrible day and it’s time for a bath. The combination of playing with something new and being in the water is a winner in our house.

Bathtubs can also be the perfect place for some messy fun. Think popsicles, sticky candy, or bubbles. It doesn’t matter what spills or drips, cleanup will be a breeze.

Read All The Books.

If your child enjoys reading/looking at picture books then this one is for you. Sit down for some focused one on one time (if your other children will allow this…or sit everyone down for storytime with mom) and read all the books your child has. By the time you’ve finished, they will have forgotten why they were having a bad in the first place! Nothing beats cuddling with mom while reading their favourite book.

One of my favourite childhood memories was reading day. As a homeschooling parent, my mom had the flexibility to set aside an entire day dedicated to reading. We would stay in our PJs the entire day, cuddle up in the living room with blankets and pillows, and she would read to us for hours on end.

Go For a Drive.

This is a good one for when your toddler isn’t the only one having a bad day. If you’re too exhausted and frustrated to put effort into something like a walk, the weather is bad, or you’re feeling less than stellar, this is the way to go. Just throw everyone in the car, turn on some music, and drive until everyone is calm. Bonus points if it’s raining and you can park somewhere to watch the raindrops when the kids fall asleep.

Look at Family Pictures Together.

Maybe this is unique to my kid, but looking at the pictures on my phone is one of his favourite activities. He loves to point to the familiar faces and talk about what he sees (even though I don’t understand what he’s saying half the time). It always seems to put him in a better mood.

This is also a great idea for when your toddler is refusing to nap. I put on calming piano music, set my phone’s camera roll to slideshow, and let it work its magic. I don’t know if it’s the soothing music, the comfort of watching familiar faces flow by, or simply sitting still for five minutes and realizing how tired he is, but it conks Little 1 right out. Today he napped for forty minutes like this and woke up much happier than before.

What are your go-to ideas for turning around your kid’s cranky day? Leave me a comment below.

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2 thoughts on “How to Reset Your Toddler’s Bad Day

  1. I used to work as a nanny for two boys ages 3 and 9months, some days, if my older boy was having a rough day we would wait until his little brother went to bed for his morning nap and then we would do something special just him and me. Could be anything from having a picnic outside (even if it was raining) out on the covered patio, or making homemade ice cream, or doing a new puzzle, (he loves puzzles) or even simply, introducing a new color of play dough!
    I found that something unexpected and fun was normally just the thing to take his mind of the troubles of life… but should all else failed… eating the frozen slices of a “cutie” orange was always sure to work! Something about the fresh, ice cream textured treat always left my little one with a smile on his face!


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