Skip to main content

Warning notification:Warning

Unfortunately, you are using an outdated browser. Please, upgrade your browser to improve your experience with HSE. The list of supported browsers:

  1. Chrome
  2. Edge
  3. FireFox
  4. Opera
  5. Safari

Parenting advice for difficult days

Every parent finds parenting difficult. There can be days when it feels like everything is a struggle.

Be kind to yourself. It's important to look after yourself too. Some of these tips might be helpful for you.

Difficult days parents have

Watch a video on difficult days parents sometimes have.

Make time for yourself

You deserve some free time for relaxation or fun. Take the chance to socialise or relax when it comes.

Here are some tips that might help you make time for yourself:

  • do not worry about maintaining the perfect home - cleaning can wait if you need a break
  • try not to cook meals from scratch every day - batch cook in advance or use leftovers for meals
  • ask your partner or friends and family to help you free up some time, if you can
  • do not feel guilty for leaving your child with a childminder - you know they are being well looked after

Try for a fresh start

If you're having a difficult day, try to take a moment and start again. This can be easier said than done, but it can help to turn a difficult situation around.

If you're losing patience with your child, draw a line under it and try again. You can deal with this situation. You will feel more confident when you have had success.

Let your children make decisions

You can do too much for your child. Some will fight for their independence. Others will allow you to do everything for them.

Give your child the space to make mistakes and learn from them. This will support their independence and confidence.

Tune into your child

Every child is different. Some children are quiet and will love playing with puzzles and jigsaws. Other children have high energy and need to run around a lot.

Let your child show you what they like. Have fun together doing activities or games that suit their personality type.

How you speak about your child

Be careful about how you speak about your child in front of your child. They are always listening.

Children will live up to both high and low expectations.

Say sorry

It's OK to say "I'm having a bad day. I'm sorry that I shouted at you. I love you."

This sets a good example for your child. They will learn to say sorry too.

Pick your battles

Do not try to change everything. Small changes can make a big difference. Celebrate the small wins.


Children are always learning from how we cope with problems or mistakes along the way.

Get them to help you with small jobs or problems around the house. Talk them through how you solve problems.

This will teach them problem-solving skills early in life. Praise them for solving smaller problems themselves.

Social media

Make an effort to limit social media use daily. Make this a family rule.

Limit the use of social media around your children. It can stop you from bonding with your child.

Do not compare yourself to others on social media. Families that look perfect on Facebook have bad days too.

More support and advice

Non-urgent advice: Contact your GP or public health nurse if:

  • you feel that one bad day has turned into a bad week or month

They will guide you to services that can support you.

The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth has a list of all helplines, parenting courses and information on Family Resource Centres.

Helplines, Parenting Courses and Advice -

Parenting advice and getting support

Extra support for parents

Caring for a child

Your mental health as a parent

Page last reviewed: 29 June 2022
Next review due: 29 June 2025