5 Tantrum Red Flags
Warning Signs Your Child's Tantrum Might Signal a Mental Health Disorder
Tantrum Red Flags continued...
Tantrum expert Michael Potegal, PhD, of the University of Minnesota, says
the Belden study is a welcome "step in the right direction."
"Everybody knows children throw tantrums, but remarkably tantrums have
not been subjected to much study," Potegal tells WebMD.
During a tantrum, Potegal says, a child has two intense emotions: extreme
anger, and extreme sadness or distress.
"My colleagues and I have found that hitting, kicking, and screaming
during a tantrum is associated with anger, and crying, whining, comfort
seeking, and perhaps throwing oneself down is associated with sadness," he
says. "The Belden study focuses on anger; there is no mention of
Worrisome Tantrums? What to Do
What should parents do if their child has "red-flag" tantrums?
"You can go two ways. One is to take the child to a pediatric
neuropsychologist to get a broad assessment, including what is going on in the
family, because some of this is absolutely in response to family
difficulties," Belden says. "The other way is to go directly to a child
psychologist who will focus on the child's emotional control and on the family
If your child has tantrums, don't feel alone. Seven out of 10 18- to
24-month-old toddlers throw tantrums. And more than three-fourths of 3- to
5-year-olds have tantrums.
Belden and colleagues report their findings in the January 2008 issue of the
Journal of Pediatrics.