A tantrum can be categorized by an irrational fit of crying, screaming, defiance, and a resistance to every attempt at pacification in which even physical control is lost. The person may not stand or sit on his own. Even when the “goal” of the person is met, he or she is not calmed.
Usually tantrums are seen in children of the ages of 2-6 but sometimes 7-9 manifested a similar pattern. People who have neurological disorders such as the combination of autism and/or mental retardation are more prone to tantrums than others, although anyone experiencing forebrain damage – temporary or permanent – can suffer from tantrums.
Everyone has tantrums once in a while. In infants, it is important to differentiate between developmental etiologies of tantrums as fostered by environment versus temperamental etiologies of tantrums as determined by innate organic idiosyncrasies. From a psychological standpoint, there may be several goals to a tantrum, which may or may not be the “reward(s)” that are consciously desired by the person.
To people familiar with or trained to recognize the psychological causes of such behavior, however, there are clear emotional, cognitive behavioral and biochemical correlates to tantrums. Tantrums are such common and powerful communication tools between people that some schools of acting demand them as an essential part of their training.
What can contribute to Temper Tantrums?
- Difficult temperament
- Unfavorable physical conditions
- Delay developmental stage
- Unfavorable environmental conditions (e.g. marital problem, family under financial stress)
Assessment on the Condition
If the frequency, intensity and duration of child’s temper tantrum make parents worry, seeking professional advice could be helpful.
Possible Intervention to Improve the Condition
- Give praise to child’s adaptive behaviors instead of giving punishment when he/she manifests maladaptive behaviors
- Reinforce child’s compliance with adult’s instructions
- Give instructions at the right time
- Give precise and concise instruction
- Give some time for the child to respond after your instruction
- Immediate encouragement after good behavior
- Calm yourself before managing child’s behavioral problem
- Let the child do things instead of help the child to do things because they may learn through trial-and-error