5 ways to manage toddler tantrums

My toddler twins began their terrible twos long before their 2nd birthday. Even though they can speak relatively well, sometimes their emotions overcome them. Here are some ways my husband and I have managed their tantrums.

1. Ignore 

How often we do this: Rarely

When we do this: In the beginning, my husband I used to ignore tantrums but found this ineffective. Toddlers often throw tantrums because their “upstairs brain” (responsible for reasoning, thought) is not as developed as their “downstairs brain” (controls emotion, basic instincts), according to Dr Daniel Siegel and Dr Tina Bryson. Their book No Drama Discipline emphasizes that parents and caregivers should aim to nurture the development of both parts of the brain when managing tantrums.

2. Talk at eye level

How often we do this: Most of the time

When we do this: In most situations, this method is effective. Lately, the most common reason for tantrums is when twin A snatches a toy or book from twin B. Sometimes we leave our twins to settle the argument between themselves, but this often leads to hitting. So we mediate by saying, “Let B finish his turn. Then you can have your turn.” Speaking to them at eye level is often most effective rather than shouting from a distance.

3. Distract

How often we do this: Sometimes

When we do this: In the toy stealing situation described above, sometimes A is inconsolable when we insist that B finishes his time with the book or toy. A rarely finds solace on her own so we try to distract her with another item. We also praise A when she settles down from her tantrum and thank B when he finishes his turn with the item.

4. Naughty corner

How often we do this: Sometimes

When we do this: Currently, our kids’ worst habits are intentionally throwing food on the ground and hitting each other. When these situations occur, I often tell them in a stern voice, “Please do not hit” or, “Please do not throw food on the ground.” Sometimes they repeat the offending behavior, so I repeat my warning. On rare occasions, the bad behavior is continuously repeated, so we will send the naughty child to a designated corner to cool off.

5. Cuddle

How often we do this: Sometimes

When we do this: Toddlers are almost biologically incapable of managing their emotions at a young age. When hunger or tiredness overcomes our kids, we just hold them for a nice cuddle to help them settle down.

 

Toddler tantrums were extremely difficult to manage in the beginning. I remember spending several gloomy nights unwinding with wine and mindless television. It took me 4-5 months to learn how to manage endless crying and whining effectively (most of the time). I often cool down (if I’m feeling agitated–which was frequent in the beginning), assess the situation, and moderate to the best of my ability.

7 lessons I learned from my second year with twins

second birthday cake

My precious twins turned two last week. I reflected on my first year in a previous post, and this year presented a whole new set of challenges. Here’s what I learned:

1. Be prepared to handle countless tantrums. The terrible twos actually started before our kids turned two! Like most toddlers, our kids have little self control and are quite emotional. Handling outbursts has been extremely taxing and tested my patience every day, several times a day.

2. When things get bad, take the twins outside. If you watch the TV program “Dog Whisperer,” you’ll often see Cesar take dogs out for a walk when they are naughty. My husband and I soon discovered the same trick works with our twins. Even if you are dead tired, taking the family out for a few hours can make the day more manageable.

3. Facebook groups have been my new best friends. To all the mums and dads in SG Parents of Twins and Triplets and Stork’s Nest Singapore: your support and late night posts have kept me sane and grateful during this second year.

4. Spanking is not a good form of discipline. During a few bad moments, I lost my temper and spanked my children. I’ll admit it. But my heavy handedness did not help, and I felt horrible afterwards. After the last episode, I resolved to show more empathy instead. But it is really, REALLY hard.

5. Don’t buy too many toys. My toddlers have been fascinated with random household objects. Some of their favorites: empty water bottles, straws, shoeboxes, painting with water, combs, brushes…

6. Give your spouse a break. My dear husband works long hours, and handling twin meltdowns can be overwhelming. When I see my husband’s fuse dwindling, I often send him to the bedroom to chill out with Reddit or Hearthstone.

7. Take a break. I had my first getaway from the twins recently–just two nights in Bangkok, but it was so refreshing to be apart for a short while.

To my dear little sheep: our first two years have been full of ups and downs, but I can’t wait to see what our third year will bring! Mommy loves you. XOXO