Alex Cullen: 'My twins have started having tantrums and I fear for the terrible twos'

Photo: Alex Cullen's twins have started having tantrums.
Photo: Alex Cullen's twins have started having tantrums. Photo: Instagram

The origins of the word 'tantrum' are hotly disputed. 

A quick google search has turned up several explanations. 

One is from the Welsh word 'tant' which apparently means a sudden start, a gust of passion and according to A Dictionary of the Welsh Language by William Owen Pugh is also a flight, or whim; what is stretched; a string; a string of a musical instrument. 

Other authors believe it comes from the german word 'tand' which means vanity and the latin 'tantum', meaning so much or the latin verb 'tendere' which is to stretch. 

I could go on, but we as parents of young children know full well the meaning of tantrum - which is often akin to a nuclear meltdown, an earth-shattering catastrophic explosion of raw emotion that is as sudden as it is, in a public place, embarrassing.  

Our twin daughters Audrey and Evie are fast approaching their second year on earth but they have somehow entered the realm of tantrums early. 

Perhaps it's because they were born a month early, perhaps it's just their enthusiastic personalities but I do fear what the so-called 'terrible twos' will look like if the last few weeks are anything to go by. 

I've decided to focus in on the different types of tantrums.


So let's start with the 'flailing tantrum'. 

The flailing tantrum is when your child suddenly flips their arms to the heavens in order to slip your grip as you aim to take them from a place they're clearly not ready to leave. 

It's a genius tactic which comes as a rude surprise because if you're not ready, the child can fall through your grip and add another painful level of emotion to the oncoming tantrum. The arms then flail along with the legs with bouts of screaming and a very loud drawn out 'nooooo'. 

The child refuses to move and one can only move the child by tightly gripping the child around the top of the arms and flipping them up to your torso. Here you have to dodge the flailing arms and for the dads out there, the legs because those kicking feet can deliver a very nasty blow to a very specific area.  

Alex Cullen. Instagram

Another is the 'Arched Back Tantrum'. 

This is simply a child lying on their back, arching it when the parent attempts to pick up the child to take them from a place they're clearly not ready to leave. It can happen anywhere. The loungeroom floor, a busy shopping centre, the footpath or in some extreme cases, the middle of a road. 

The Arched Back Tantrum can be especially hard when putting a child in a car seat, or in the middle of changing a nappy which can have devastating consequences for many reasons. 

To keep our kids entertained we've resorted to sometimes letting them play in the front of the car - without the keys of course! It's resulted in some interesting settings on the car radio but it's now meant taking up their usual position in the back of the car, so often sparks a dreaded tantrum. 

Tantrums aren't fun for anyone, especially when twins decide to pull a double tantrum and I'm told by several reliable sources that the only thing to do is Keep Calm and Carry On.

According to the Australian parenting website the best thing to do is at least pretend to be calm and when you speak, keep your voice calm and level and act deliberately and slowly. I've found that acting deliberately is key because if you dilly-dally, it only prolongs the pain.

Act decisively, quickly and calmly and it'll be over before you know it. 

Sounds easy right?! It never is because our children are yet to develop emotional and social skills to manage certain feelings. They will. Eventually. 

And as award winning author L.R. Knost once said "when our little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it's our job to share our calm, not join their chaos".