Ask Teacher Lisa: Managing Morning Meltdowns

Managing Morning Meltdowns

Dear Teacher Lisa,

Our 2 year old is having complete meltdowns over getting dressed in the morning – it’s not a fun way for any of us to start our day! I am trying to stay calm and walk her through it, but it’s not easy. That said, I am also still trying to set boundaries around her reaction to it, but she just doesn’t want to hear it.

As you know, I’m pregnant with our 2nd child, and I’m not sure exactly how she is processing everything (though it doesn’t seem to come out in direct ways). Could this be related?

Any advice will help!

Just Want a Little Peace in the Morning

Dear A Little Peace,

This all seems pretty age appropriate. If possible, I would try to talk with her the day before to make a plan for the morning. Is it that she doesn’t want to dress herself? Or she doesn’t like any of the options/nothing goes right?

If it’s wanting help, I would go ahead and give some help (maybe compromise) and that could be about her reverting back to being a baby a bit in anticipation of losing that relationship with you.

If it’s the latter issue of nothing being right, then the planning ahead could really help. Maybe pick out the outfit the day before and lay out all the accessories. You could do a little picture schedule on the wall of her (smiling) at each stage.

Step 1: Picture of her with her undies on…”Put on undies.”

Step 2: Picture of her with her shirt on…”Put on shirt.” etc. until she is fully dressed.

You could end the chart with a high five or something fun she enjoys like choosing a favorite song to dance to before heading out the door. Try to find ways to make it fun for her as well, so it doesn’t feel like a chore. Kids don’t like being told what to do–they like feeling powerful, playful, independent and important, so any of those vibes you could tap into would be good.

With another parent who was having a similar issue, she was saying that nothing about the breakfast goes right and her son goes ballistic. I was thinking that was due to morning grumps, wanting control and autonomy, and the rush/stress of getting out of the house. I suggested to her to make a book about “B’s Breakfast” or make a little velcro picture mat with the different elements of breakfast to stick on and off that kind of gives him a way to process and make it how he likes it to look even if he can’t control the real breakfast sometimes because the honey won’t come out (or whatever it might be!).

It could be fun to do something similar for N if it’s the little details of dressing that are wearing her down (no pun intended, haha). You could do a picture of her in her undies with velcro spots to stick on different outfits, so she can do all the trying on the velcro and not on herself. Or a book “N’s Getting Dressed Book.” It could be about feelings and hiccups along the way, but it could also be about the process.

Also, allowing yourself some extra time in the morning so you can be present and not stressed is helpful. I find it is when I am most stressed and rushed that things go worst in the morning, whereas if I have all my stuff ready and I’m relaxed, I can help the kids more.

You’ve got this,

Teacher Lisa

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