Temper Tantrums: What's Normal?

Temper tantrums, according to Dr. Jay L. Hoecker of the MayoCinic, are a normal part of growing up. Your child may be seeking attention or is tired, hungry, or uncomfortable. They are also often expressions of a child’s frustrations; when they can not get their parents or any object to do what they want.

As self-control improves, temper tantrums occur less often. In fact, most kids outgrow temper tantrums by age 4.

However, there are cases where temper tantrums are an indicator of an underlying condition such as

  • Developmental delay – is when your child does not reach their developmental milestones at the expected times. [med.umich.edu]
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – a syndrome of disordered behavior, characterized by a persistent pattern of impulsiveness, inattentiveness, and sometimes hyperactivity that interferes with academic, occupational, or social performance. [Wikipedia]

Sometimes, but very rarely, temper tantrums may signal an even more serious condition such as Asperger’s syndrome.

Asperger syndrome

Asperger syndrome is an autism spectral disorder which is characterized by ‘significant difficulties in social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development.’ [Wikipedia]

Assessing your child’s temper tantrums           

To help you determine whether your child’s temper tantrums are normal signs of development [age-appropriate response to frustration] or are cause for concern, ask the following questions:

  • How of often do the temper tantrums occur?
  • In what settings do they occur?
  • Is your child’s speech development on track?
  • Is your child’s motor ability normal for his/her age?
  • Is your child’s level of curiosity appropriate for his/her age?
  • Are you able to manage the tantrums?
  • Has your child ever injured himself or others during a tantrum?

If you answered yes to several of the questions above, and are concerned bout the possible underlying condition of your child’s temper tantrums, consult your child’s doctor, especially if the tantrums seem especially severe.

Source: MayoClinic