Social & Emotional Development

10 Ways to Salvage a Bad Morning with Your Kids

By: Rachel Macy Stafford
A parent looking with concern at their upset child.
2 minutes to read
For All Ages
Social Emotional

It is a universal truth: Mornings are hard. When the ticking clock meets with tired people, lost shoes, smelly lunch boxes and unsigned reading logs, it often makes for a not-so-pleasant goodbye, which makes the rest of the day feel a little off. 

But there is hope. Even horrible mornings can be salvaged. Here are 10 ways to bring peace, compassion, humor and connection to morning meltdowns:

1. Focus on the positive. Notice the good — any and all good you can find — even if it is simply, “I am so glad to see your face this morning,” or “You’ve always had a knack for unique clothing combinations!”

2. Grant special privileges. If someone is grumpy, let her do something you usually do like pour the milk from a small pitcher, add the brown sugar to the oatmeal, or decorate a sticky note to put in a family member’s lunchbox or briefcase.

Even horrible mornings can be salvaged.

3. Pull out a “When you were little …” story. Imagining himself tearing pancakes into itty bitty pieces or calling strawberries “strawbabies” has the potential to bring a smile.

4. Open your arms. Don’t say anything. Just hold on.

5. Decide if it’s a battle worth fighting. If it isn’t, take a deep breath and move on. If it is, speak in a tone that can be heard. Listen in a way that conveys care and concern.

6. Turn things around. Release control of the situation with a peace-making invitation like: How would you do it? Show me.

7. Give two minutes. Sit beside him. Rub her back. Get at eye level. Giving two minutes won’t break the schedule, but it could make all the difference in their day.

Don’t be afraid to ask, “Can we start over?” 

8. Be especially generous with forgiveness in the morning hours. Don’t be afraid to ask, “Can we start over?” Do-overs are a priceless gift that cost nothing but hold great value.

9.Think to yourself: That’s someone’s baby. That’s my baby. Seeing him or her as a human being who is learning and growing can offer a shred of patience and perspective to get you through a trying moment.

10. Glimpse the future. When a situation is quickly deteriorating, give yourself a three-second preview of what an angry, critical or sarcastic response will do. Will it make the situation better or worse? A three-second pause can save a morning, spare some pain and prevent regret.

On mornings that are not salvageable, remember this: Day after day, you provide countless daily doses of love without even thinking about it. That sacred collection of loving gestures far outweighs this morning’s clothing drama, burnt toast and 7 a.m. meltdown. Remember: Love prevails over failures, flaws and even disastrous mornings.

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Author Photo
By: Rachel Macy Stafford

Rachel Macy Stafford is the founder of, where she provides simple ways to let go of daily distraction and grasp what matters most in life. She is the New York Times bestselling author of “Hands Free Mama.” Rachel's latest book, “Live Love Now,” comes from her background as a certified special education teacher and also from her own drive to live out her message as she raises her own daughters. Join Rachel’s supportive community, The Hands Free Revolution, on Facebook and Instagram