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Raising children is no easy feat, and they do not come with guidebooks. No parent is perfect, and we all make mistakes that can unintentionally affect how our child behaves. I truly wish I had realized this sooner- but I am happy I know now.

It happens quickly, one moment everything is flowing smoothly and in the next, you are asking yourself “What happened? What am I doing wrong?”

While your little one isn’t always going to be in a good mood (no one is) when you find they are cranky, and misbehaving often, rather than resorting to just punishment, it’s helpful to reexamine the reasons behind their bad behaviors. Here are 7 ways you may be unintentionally making your child cranky.

1. Not establishing a routine.

As adults, in many cases, we live our lives by the seat of our pants (so to speak) which basically means, we wing it. That isn’t necessarily healthy for us either, but it’s especially damaging to children. Many parents expect their children to adjust to their schedule and not vice versa, but to do so will only result in chaos. Try setting a normal eating, sleeping, and play schedule. In turn, your child will know what to expect from their day, they will become more emotionally stable, and they will struggle less with feeling overwhelmed, confused, and cranky.

2. Not spending quality time with them.

Life gets busy- but it should never get so busy that quality time with your little one gets pushed to the backburner. It happens to the best of us, between work, and meals, and extracurriculars, we get lost in our day-to-day hustle. And then, before we know it, we are rushing through everything. However, little ones need us to stop, focus and listen to them.

3. Rushing through daily parenting tasks.

Imagine this- you are trying to get ready to do something, and someone keeps rushing you. The more they rush you, the more anxious and upset you get. Children experience this as well. Even when you aren’t verbally rushing through tasks, children can sense your rushed energy. Try to slow down and truly live in the moments you have with your little one.

4. Rewarding bad behavior.

No parent wants to hear their child cry or get upset. It is truly a heartbreaking thing to see your child whining or crying- and it can be tempting to give them what they want. But, by giving them everything they cry or whine for, you are teaching them that getting upset will get them their way.

5. Feeding them junk.

What we eat has so much to do with our overall mental health. And while you may want to make your little one happy by giving them chicken nuggets and french fries for each meal- when you do this, you are missing out on giving them a balanced diet.

Without the right nutrients, your child may become deficient, or easily exhausted because they are running on the wrong fuel. If your car ran out of gas, you wouldn’t replace the gas with coca-cola because it was convenient. If you did- the car would burn up. Fuel your child with fruits, veggies, and healthy proteins.

A few treats here and there are fine – I am not suggesting that anyone has the perfect diet. But there is a need for balance.

6. Not staying consistent with sleep schedules.

Without proper sleep, I get cranky, so expecting my little one to be anything less without the right amount of sleep is delusional. There will be times when it just isn’t possible- perhaps they are having a bad night and just can’t sleep, or when you put them down for a nap, they refused and fought you. But striving for the same nap times and sleep times each day will make a huge difference in their mood.

7. Not being consistent with consequences.

In order for children to understand the rules, you will have to ensure there are consequences when the rules are broken. When consequences are inconsistent, children don’t even realize their behavior is bad. You may have to put down what you are doing and talk to them, or put them in time out, but whatever the consequence is – you have to follow through.