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5 Easy Ways to Break Your Kid's Bad Mood

Ever had one of those days when everyone could use a little attitude adjustment? Here are 5 tried and true ways to break your kid’s (and your own!) bad mood.


Studies have shown that music, especially certain genres, can have a powerful effect on our mood, health, and even our learning. We’ve all experienced it, and the same holds true for our children. Pop, rock, oldies, and classical music are great for busting bad moods, so find a few favorites, crank them up, and grab a dance partner. You can’t help but smile!

Our current favorites for those times when we’re a feeling moody are:

Get outside

One day this week, we were stuck in the house waiting for a furniture delivery basically the entire day, and the lack of activity was getting to everyone, me included. That’s when I consulted Pinterest, printed this awesome Nature Walk Scavenger Hunt by Seven Thirty Three, and got the girls out the door, clipboards in hand. I’m not sure if it was giving them a task, the breath of fresh air, or the mood-lifting vitamin D, but we were instantly out of our funk!


Snuggle up in front of the TV

If the weather’s not conducive to going outside (hello, New England winters!), how about the opposite? Snuggling up to watch a movie together, blanket, popcorn, and jammies included.

Although I’m not big on screentime, haven’t you had those days when all you want to do is sit on your butt and veg out?

17305308782_3c4375d291_kPhoto credit: Donnie Ray Jones

Sometimes, I can see in my kids’ eyes that they’re feeling the same way, so I take advantage of the opportunity to cozy up on the couch, and use the power of touch to calm them.

Bake something chocolaty

Can you ever remember a time when someone tried to hand you a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie and it didn’t make you feel happy? Yup, didn’t think so.

You don’t have to be a gourmet chef to whip up something rich and delicious; boxed mixes will certainly do the trick. But getting kids involved in the process of baking is a great distraction for cranky days, with all its measuring, pouring, and stirring. And at the end, you have a chocolaty confection to boost your mood.



Lately, my 5-year-old has been requesting “trouble books” during storytime—books with a defined and engaging plot, like Curious George books. These are the same books I turn to when someone’s in a bad mood: ones that transport us to a different place where “trouble” happens but things never go so far south that George can’t extricate himself from his own mess. Plus, he always ends up being the hero. How convenient!


Turns out, “bibliotherapy” is a real thing:

[You can] trace the method of bibliotherapy all the way back to the Ancient Greeks, “who inscribed above the entrance to a library in Thebes that this was a ‘healing place for the soul.’ ” The practice came into its own at the end of the nineteenth century, when Sigmund Freud began using literature during psychoanalysis sessions. After the First World War, traumatized soldiers returning home from the front were often prescribed a course of reading… Later in the century, bibliotherapy was used in varying ways in hospitals and libraries, and has more recently been taken up by psychologists, social and aged-care workers, and doctors as a viable mode of therapy.

Fascinating! I think anyone who loves reading can attest to the power of books to change our moods. And if it works for adults, why shouldn’t it work for kids?

Does your family have a secret trick for breaking bad moods?

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4 thoughts on “5 Easy (and Research-based!) Ways to Change Your Kid’s Bad Mood

  1. Wow, chocolate, the outdoors, and music, three of my go-to self-soothers! These work equally well for mommies, too.

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