Crazy Mornings: When Tantrums Strike!

Not so happy MiaIt was 7 in the morning and our child was crying in the bathroom. She was upset because…

I helped her rinse her hair.

Yep, didn’t think that could start a tantrum too. I’ve read that toddlers and preschoolers have different ways of asserting their independence and ours have chosen the bathroom version.

I actually let her scrub, lather, and rinse on her own. But that morning, when she said she was done and I still saw some bubbles at the back of her head, I instinctively grabbed the shower and rinsed the parts she missed.

Boy oh boy, she cried like it was the end of the world!

I explained and said, “Mia… when we’re not rushing, like before bedtime or on weekends, you can do it yourself. But on rush hours, Mommy would do it.”

She cried all the more.

I wrapped her in a towel and repeated that I’ll give her a chance to do it ALL BY HERSELF before she sleeps in the evening but just like an inconsolable friend crying over a break-up, my comforting words drew more cries. And it took a few more minutes (and a lot of hugs) before she eventually calmed down.

Whew? Not just yet.

As soon as we stepped out of the bath, she got upset again. Because…

I said No when she suddenly asked for the iPad. Now where did that come from?? Time was ticking and we were not even dressed yet.

So at around 7:30am, we had a screaming child on the bed demanding for it.

I want the iPad now! Nowwwwww!

Hey! You can’t talk to me and raise your voice like that! (I wanted to say that.) But I was trying to sound cool and collected as I said, “Sorry honey, you need to be in school in 30 minutes so we don’t have time to play.”

The iPad now. The iPad noooooooooow!

Still trying to keep my calm, I said, “Okay honey, you can play the iPad in the afternoon when you wake up from your nap.”

Nooooooo. Now. No. I want it nooooow.

Arrrgggh. Had I not read that defiance and irrational behaviors are typical of 3-year-olds, I swear I could have immediately shouted back! Grrrrrrr. And so I repeated, “Yes, you can play the iPad, but not this morning. Only in the afternoon.”

The little person still wouldn’t take the trade. She still kept on crying and whining and we were really running late.

I want to play now Mommy; I want to play the iPaaaaaaaaaaaaaad.

“I’m sorry sweetie, I understand how you feel. But you can’t argue with me on this. It’s just not going to happen.”


“But if you get dressed, go to school, come home, nap, and wake up again, then you can play.”

Noooooo. I want it now… Now only now!!!

That almost pushed me to the edge. I wanted to explode in anger! But there was really no way I’m giving in. I don’t want her to associate waking up to iPad use. Yes we let her, for about 30 minutes to an hour a day but not as soon as she wakes up.

I ended up leaving her in the bed to cry it out. I had to go out of the room and manage my anger too.

How stressful it was to listen to her wails.

When it was 7:45 and she hasn’t stopped yet, I thought it was probably time to distract.

I went back in and said, “Mia, remember in the flashcards, it said, “Always be on ______?”

And she answered, “Time.” (They can’t resist questions they know the answer to. Even when they’re crying. Saved me several times.)

“Wow, you remembered! Maybe your teacher is already waiting for you and when you arrive she’s going to say, Wow you made it on time Mia, you’re not late.”

When she heard that, she suddenly jumped off the bed.


For a minute there, I thought we’re not going to class that day.

What a terrible morning. It was already 8am when she left our door and she has not eaten any breakfast.

I was seriously considering a drink. I would normally evaluate where I went wrong or how I could have handled it better but at that moment, I was already drained. I just hoped that things would get better in the afternoon.

And thank God it did. Our conversation later that day was another “Mommy learning” for me. Here’s how it went when she woke up from her nap.

MIA: Can I play the iPad now?”

Me: YES. Sure you can!”

And then I thought that was a great opportunity to emphasize and feed her thoughts.

Me: See, Mommy says Yes. Because it’s afternoon. And you’re done napping. Mommy doesn’t say No anymore. Isn’t it better when Mommy says Yes?

MIA: Yes!

And her eyes glowed as I handed the iPad over.

Me: But on mornings? What does Mommy say?

MIA: No…

Me: Correct. Okay, you can play now. 🙂

I was just hoping it would sink in.

When we reached bed hour and she knew it was time to take a shower, she suddenly blurted,

MIA: Mommy! I’m going to do it all by myself. Not you.

Me: Yes, sure! See, Mommy is saying Yes again. I love to say Yes.”

MIA: Coz we’re not rushing.

Me: Yes we’re not.

MIA: But tomorrow it’s going to be your turn. When we’re rushing, Mommy will give me a bath. But at nighttime when we’re not rushing, I can take a bath by myself and Mommy will just watch.

Now look at that!!! They do understand after all! I can’t believe I heard my exact words from her. I was somehow bracing myself for the same episode to happen again the following day. Yay!

And it was a moment to praise and to emphasize again!

Me: Wow! You understand! And you’re not crying anymore. I have an understanding child. I’m so lucky to have an understanding baby. Thank you Mia.

MIA: I understand, Mommy. We will take turns. And I won’t ask for the iPad tomorrow.

Me: Really?? You won’t??

MIA: Only in the afternoon.


Me: Very good anak. Thank you.

They do understand ladies and gentlemen. They are just unable to reason during a meltdown and thus, cannot escape the crying spell. But when they’re calmer, they get it. And we just have to explain and stay firm in spite of how nerve-wrecking things can be.

So glad I didn’t drag her to get dressed that morning. I was so close to yelling and it could have ended worse than it already was.

And though it took forever for her to finish her bath that night, I just let her. There were still some soap left on her back but I just ignored and wiped her dry.

Has your kid done a similar tantrum? I would love to hear your story. Share in the comments section below. 🙂