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Why are only adults allowed to have bad days?

Let me know which of these you have heard or have said before?

“I cannot adult today.”

“I had so much to do but I netflix'd and chilled instead.”

“I called in sick because I just needed a day…”

“I was supposed to work out, but I brunched instead…” (yes, brunch is a verb)

“I’m avoiding my boss today - I just need a break from him/her/they…”

“Oh no, my mom is calling… not today.” (I love you, Mom!)

I can go on, and on, and on, and on… How many did you raise your hand for? Don’t be shy - I’ve said ALL those things before. Repeatedly. (Don’t tell my boss…)

So - we have an IEP for my son and his teacher sends home a daily report on his work and behavior. We have a whole system in place and sometimes it really motivates him, and sometimes it doesn’t make a dent. I was talking to my dad about it, and he said, “So what are you going to do to help him have all good days going forward?”

My response - “Who has all good days?” To which my dad lovingly agreed - No One!

Why do we expect our children to be more together than we are? Why do we expect them to achieve things that we cannot? Do we maybe believe that life is easier for them than it is for us? It’s not. It’s different, but it’s not easier. I love being adult FAR MORE than I liked being a kid. It was hard. I was always being judged. I couldn’t make any decisions for myself. I was in school 8 hours a day. I couldn’t pee or eat without permission. I had no control over who I was forced to share my space with - teachers, classmates, family members, etc. Because I had ADHD I always had a hard time doing anything right - grades, social groups, activities, etc. Being a kid kind of sucked for me. I needed a Netflix and Chill day myself. But that wasn’t a thing for us kids. We had to achieve our goals every day - school, homework, extracurricular activities, practice, etc.

All this to say - if your child has a bad day - let it be what it is. One bad day. Don’t allow yourself to become overwrought with fears that they are failing, that you are failing. It doesn’t have to mean any of those things. The weight of having to be “good” all the time may inadvertently be contributing to the number of bad days - because an expectation without compassion, patience and guidance is a burden. If a bad day can come and go without extreme judgment or consequence - it allows for an easier reset and the greater possibility of a better day tomorrow.

This teaches your child how to navigate bad days as an adult as well. As adults - sometimes we're extremely productive and sometimes even reaching for the remote feels hard; sometimes we show up and say all the right things to all the right people, and somedays we don't show up at all. As adults - we're conditioned to believe that our productive days are "good" and our non-productive days are less valid, not as important, even "bad". So we judge ourselves for them, and we stress about when we are going to be productive again. But that judgment and that stress take up valuable space in our already over-crowded minds. So we never get the time off that our bad days may be telling us we desperately need.

Now obviously if your child is having more bad days than good, we strongly recommend discussing this with your child’s pediatrician and finding a behavioral specialist that works with children who have ADHD (we don’t work with children here - just parents). But even then, release the judgment of those bad days - from your child and from yourself. There’s likely a set of lagging skills that with the right set of milestones and goals can be overcome (see our blog post on Lagging Skills).

As an adult I have had entire years that I am not proud of - where I was not my best. If I had allowed those years to define me - I would not be where I am today. Don’t let “bad days” define your child, your parenting skills, or your family. Take a day to Netflix and Chill with each other. Let them have a day off. Let yourself have a day off.

We can help release the judgment of "bad" days - even redefine what bad days are and what they're trying to communicate to you. Reach out today for a free consultation.

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