Childhood Life Parenting

Manners and Tantrums

Babies are manageable but when they become toddlers, that easy math equation of obedience minus tantrums = compliance does not compute. I am not good at playing ‘bad-cop’. It stems from my own childhood – I was brought up by typical South East Asian standards, you get whacked if you don’t comply. End of story, no bargaining. 

Soft parenting was my go-to technique. A whimper and thick hot tears got me in a fix and I would rush to carry Ciaran and comfort him. When he turned 2, and as all toddlers do – he discovered that he could say No. A shake of the head, stomping of feet, running to a corner, curled up in a bowl and cries that could rival a banshee. Wooopfh. I dreaded that. Daryl is the firm one and he would not stand for any tantrums. I started deferring to Daryl whenever Ciaran got into his Oscar the grouch mood swings/tantrums. Deep down, I knew this was not sustainable. Parenting is a two-person (or a village) work.

Ready to Go! is a brilliant resource for parents.

Thankfully I caught on, and I started to seek out techniques to help me be a more responsible parent. Of these, a one great resources is a series of books my sister bought me under the ‘Ready to Go!’ set. Bless her heart, she got it  in hopes of helping me deal with a headstrong toddler. The one I found most useful and have applied with great success is the on Manners. Written by a clinical psychologist, it fames out 4 key factors that influence the way children learn and choose their behaviours:

Key Influences on Children’s Behaviour

  1. Copying: parents need to model best behaviour for children to imitate
  2. Cues: signals, reminders, arrangements , rules and routines
  3. Consequences: reward and punishment 
  4. Compassion: being understood and listened to = caring communication 

The book goes in-depth into each point and provides practical tools to aid parents like me in our attempts to ensure we bring up children who respect and are considerate of others’ feelings. 

This was the turning point for me as I flipped through the book (which has a separate book for your kid too) and as Ciaran turned 3 and I started to make a concerted effort to help my son chart out what it means to have manners. 

This book recommends using Time-outs to navigate toddlers into understanding what is acceptable.Two other techniques we’re using now are also Option 1 or 2 and a good ‘ol analog Responsibility Chart . If there’s anything I’ve learnt on managing toddlers it’s these three things and I’m using them to the best of my ability. Here’s how:

1. Time-Out

  • Children need firm discipline and the assurance that they are loved. 
  • When your child starts acting out – i.e. a tantrum or being rude, put them in a place (we use the stairs) where you can see them (don’t shut them in a room) and set a timer. 2 mins for a 2 year old, 3 mins for a 3 year old and so forth. 
  • After the timer beeps, take them out and hug them tight and spend some quiet time together.
  •  Once your child has calmed down, explain what they did ‘wrong’ – misbehaving, screaming, being unkind, kicking etc. 
  • Emphasise how they can be kinder, better behaved then move on. You don’t need to dwell too much on that incident. 

2. Option 1 Or 2

  • If your child is not listening to reason or just doesn’t want to do what he’s told, pause and give him 2 options. 
  • Both options need to be something you can deliver on. They should not be what your child is demanding from you.
  • For example – your child wants to watch Youtube but he’s already had his 1 hour limit and is screaming your ears off.
  • You can offer him Option 1: Playing with his robot toy (pick a fav toy of his) and then he can get say 30 mins of cartoons later in the evening OR Option 2: Continue crying and get NO screen time for the rest of the day. 
  • Put it to him that he needs to pick only 1 Option.

3. Responsibility Chart

  • We love Melissa & Doug’s stuff, they’re well made and well-thought-out. Daryl bought this chart and hung it in our living room.
  • We picked out priority tasks we wanted Ciaran to take responsibility of – clearing his toys, stop whining and saying please and thank you.
  • We told Ciaran what’s expected of him should we want to get a ‘Bravo’ or ‘Good Job’ magnet. It works brilliantly; and he would come to us at the end of the day and we assess how well he had done for the day and award him accordingly. 
  • Affirmation helps children understand what they should do more of. I prefer this to yelling and being militant.
  • The Manners book also comes with really cute posters and stickers you can get your child to paste when he is polite, respectful and well behaved.
Ciaran sticking on a star he got for being polite.

These tools has worked well for us so far. But as with every chapter of the age-old Book of Parenting, every day is a new day. Ciaran is better behaved and knows his boundaries. He communicates better on why he’s frustrated (i.e. hungry, need to use the potty etc) instead of throwing a hissy fit. There are still days when he gets into a scream-fest, but those instances are much reduced.

As tough as parenting is, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Being parents have made us better people because we are relearning so many of the basics. The basics that make us human – and what is truly important; our family, our love for each other which fuels our efforts to make a brighter future.

Useful links to buy tools mentioned in my post:

Childhood recipe

Orange Earl Grey Ice Cream

Like most kids growing up, the ice cream flavours I knew were decadent chocolate, comforting vanilla and delightful strawberry. Birthdays and special occasions meant that we could all share one giant tub (a whopping 1.5 litres) of Neopolitan – of which we would proceed to dive our faces and grimy tiny hands into. These ice cream flavours were also a perfect reflection of how simple our lives were; easily ranked from good (vanilla), better (strawberry), best (chocolate)! And when living in a ridiculously hot and humid climate, a cool decadent treat is everything you dream of.

As an adult, now, I rarely settle for just chocolate, vanilla or strawberry. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with those classics. It’s just knowing what’s out there – the exotic (think burrata, ube, durian), intriguing (Marmite ice cream anyone?) and even strange (wasabi, gorgonzola cheese), that makes my tastebuds tremble with excitement.

My ice cream flavour obsession of late has been Earl Grey, Hazelnut and Brandy Apple Pie, made by that awesome local creamery Ice Cream Cookie Co. Alas, due to the on-going #circuitbreaker (semi lockdown), there has been a dearth of available flavours from said brand (their production line was suspended due to the government’s directive 2 weeks ago). And I do love a good tea-based ice cream. Earl Grey is also my preferred tea of choice.

As with most things these days, when a craving hits, and there are no commercial options, make it! I’m not particularly fond of making ice cream because I’ve only ever made it less than 10 times in my life and most times, the ice crystals were a little too big, so it was like creamy slush. But I’m a huge believer of “if you fail once, twice, thrice, just try again!”. So off I went. I used a recipe from David Lebovitz (he’s one of my foodie heroes. Most of my young adult days were spent drooling over his blogposts about dreamy Paris and amazing rustic Parisian food. He’s also got a reputation for really solid, reliable ice-cream recipes (‘The Perfect Scoop’ is a must-have. I had a copy even though I never made much ice-cream). If you have an ice-cream maker, great, and if you don’t – just churn it by hand every hour.

Straining the custard of the loose tea.

There are many variations of ice-cream but my favourite is still the French custard style with its generous portion of egg yolks. The rich, velvety texture is worth it. But make sure you don’t take your eye off the pot when waiting for the custard to thicken. For me, it took all of 4 mins.

Finished ice cream mixture in the ice-bath.

Feel free to taste the finished mixture at this point and see if you’d like to add more orange flavour. Then into the fridge it goes for further chilling before the churning begins.

Chilled mixture going into the ice-cream maker

If you forsee making ice-cream on the regular, I would suggest investing in a machine with a decent motor. The one I used is about 2-years old and I’ve only used it two other times and both times it got stuck half-way because the outer rim formed a hard layer, blocking the paddle. With both fingers and toes crossed, I was hoping that it would run smoothly this time. It was not to be. The motor on the machine got overheated and stopped turning 30 mins so…I got a really good arm workout.

Churnin’, churnin’, churnin’ and then wham, it stopped.
Not bad for a hand-churned ice-cream.



  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (I used demerara sugar for a nice slightly caramel flavour
  • A pinch of salt (Maldon sea salt is my preferred)
  • 1/4 cup loose Earl Grey tea (or contents of 6 Earl Grey Tea bags)
  • Finely grated zest of 4 medium oranges (I only had 1 orange, so I added 1/2 tsp orange oil on top of the zest)
  • 5 large egg yolks


  1. In a medium saucepan, mix 1 cup of the cream with the milk, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Warm the cream mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Stir in the tea leaves and orange zest. Cover, remove from the heat, and let sit for 1 hour. Taste and let sit longer if you want a stronger flavour.
  3. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with several inches of ice water. Set a smaller metal bowl (one that holds at least 1-1/2 quarts) in the ice water. Pour the remaining cup of cream into the inner bowl (this helps the custard cool quicker when you pour it in later). Set a fine strainer on top. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl.
  4. Rewarm the cream mixture over medium-high heat until tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 1 to 2 minutes. In a steady stream, pour half of the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling.
  5. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heatproof rubber spatula until the custard thickens slightly (it should be thick enough to coat the spatula and hold a line drawn through it with a finger), 4 to 8 minutes. An instant-read thermometer should read 79°C to 82°C at this point. Don’t let the sauce overheat or boil, or it will curdle. Immediately strain the custard into the cold cream in the ice bath. Press firmly on the tea leaves and orange zest in the strainer with the spatula to extract as much flavour as possible.
  6. Cool the custard to below 21°C by stirring it over the ice bath. Refrigerate the custard until completely chilled, at least 4 hours. Then freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  7. Transfer the just-churned ice cream to an air-tight container, and freeze for at least 4 hours or up to 2 weeks.

I had some for breakfast (oh no don’t you pretend you’ve never had ice-cream for breakfast?) and lunch, and I’m about to have some more. It’s almost half gone as Ciaran and Daryl both loves it. Looks like this recipe is going to our McAlea recipe box!