While most children occasionally exhibit tempter-tantrums, researchers warn that parents may want to be especially vigilant of certain types of tantrums. A recent study finds specific types of tantrum behaviors which appear to be connected to depression or disruptive disorders in children ages three to six.
The researchers, out of the Washington University School of Medicine St. Louis, examined tantrum behavior in 279 children, of which a portion was already diagnosed with mental health problems. Their study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, found that children that tend to be diagnosed with ADHD and oppositional-defiant disorder are also those that exhibit extremely aggressive behavior during tantrums. In addition, another behavior for parents to be concerned with during tantrums is self-harm, the most typical being; biting, scratching and head-banging. The children exhibiting self-harm during tantrums were more likely than other children to be diagnosed with major depressive disorders, regardless of how long these tantrums lasted or how frequently they occurred.
Other tantrum behaviors of note include; the child being unable to calm themselves without assistance, tantrums which exceed twenty-five minutes in length, and tantrum behavior occurring more than five times a day or twenty times per month. Researchers that ran the study suggest that parents noticing any of these behaviors, especially self-harming behaviors, contact their pediatrician for further direction;
“If it gets to the point where the parent is uncomfortable leaving the house because they are so fearful their child will have tantrum, that should be a sign to the parent (to seek help)”
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Dec 2007
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Bechdel, J. (2007). When is a tantrum not just a tantrum?. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 18, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2007/12/23/when-is-a-tantrum-not-just-a-tantrum/