Grumpy tots are no fun. Let’s turn around a toddler’s bad days!
I walked into my 2 year old’s room with a chipper good morning greeting, opened the curtains, and said “WOW! What a beautiful day it is today!”
His response was a screamed “I don’t LIKE beautiful days”.
Heaven help me. It’s going to be one of those days. The kind of toddler days that you dread. Nothing is good enough, except contradicting and arguing. Disobeying gets taken to a varsity level and whining goes from zero to Caillou in seconds (sorry Caillou…).
Breakfast isn’t what he wanted. Even though it’s exactly what he wanted.
His toys are boring and there’s nothing to do.
Everything I do is wrong and around every corner is a “difference of opinion” between the two of us. We’ve hit a wall and can’t go any further with the day. As much as I’d like to just curl up in bed and pretend the morning never happened, that’s not going to work with a toddler – a grumpy toddler – tow.
When days begin this bad, I like to start over.
Reset the day. Think “blowing on a Nintendo cartridge” and getting things back to normal.
If my toddler starts the day in a mood, I pull out all the stops to try and get things back on track. I have 7 great ideas to share with you that have helped us out roughly 8,637 bad day jams. These activities calm my toddler, relax him, and get us on the up and up.
7 must have tricks to fix a toddler’s bad day.
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Do a Popsicle Bath
Nothing – and I mean NOTHING – fixes a bad day faster than a Popsicle bath. I draw my toddler a morning bath with extra bubbles. Some might say a truly ridiculous amount of bubbles. I give him a giant Popsicle and let the calming soak wash over him. I cannot tell you how many times a Popsicle bath has saved my life. And saved a toddler’s bad day.
Go on a Treasure Walk
Treasure Walk: If things are really bad inside the house, take them outside. Go on a walk, but make it a walk with purpose. Take a bag with you and let your toddler fill it full of fun finds. We call these Treasure Walks and they are so special. Taking a few minutes to be together in nature helps things to reset. Plus Grandma always says fresh air has heeling power and I think she’s right. When we get home, we dump out our treasures, relive the memory of the walk and bask in the happiness of a saved day.
Have a Lego Bath
Lego Bath: Another bath tub idea! On one particularly rough morning, I went for the old bath reset trick but we were out of Popsicles! Gasp! Instead, I grabbed the bin of Lego Duplos and dumped them all in with my toddler. It worked! He played for 45 minutes. FORTY FIVE MINUTES of quiet, concentrating, day resetting play time. Hallelujah! The Lego bath is a go-to on toddler bad days at our house.
Read Every Book
When things aren’t going well, we take a time-in. A time-in for extra hugs, extra snuggles, and extra books. I grab the whole book bin and we sit together looking at all the books. Not one book. Not two books. Sometimes it’s 10, maybe 15 books. Extra mom time. Individualized attention. Total concentration sans my iPhone (just being honest here). By the time the book bin is empty, I can already see his attitude shifting.
Build a Simple Rice Bin
Rice bin: Creating a calming sensory bin is another great option for grumpy toddlers. My personal favorite is a rice bin. I can make a rice bin faster than my toddler can hit the floor in a tantrum. Take a big tub, add a bag of rice and a few measuring cups and viola! Something about pouring and scooping the rice is so calming. It’s an instant reset (and it gives them something to play independently for a while).
Bake Something Tasty
Baking is another great way to turn around a toddler’s bad day. Our go-to baked good is homemade brownies. We work together to make something delicious and once they are out the oven, brownies can cure whatever ails you. Our fail safe brownie recipe is an oldie but a goodie and I can make it faster than a box mix so I always have these ingredients on hand.
Make a calm down bottle
Calm down bottle: These calm down bottles – also called sensory bottles – do wonders for a toddler’s bad day. They are so fascinating to watch that you can feel your whole body relax as you begin to play with one. And, surprisingly (!), they are easy to make. Some soap, some glitter, and some glue and you are on your way to an amazing calm down bottle. This recipe from Rhythms of Play is my personal favorite and it’s awesome (it’s also Frozen themed!).
Grumpy days are rough for everyone and having a few tricks in your parenting tool box can make all the difference in fixing your toddler’s bad day.
Meghan from Playground Parkbench has her own set of bad day diffusing tips that you should check out too! You can never have too many ideas for solving a toddler’s bad day.
What’s your go-to activity for a toddler’s bad day?