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Temper Tantrums - Symptoms

Usually, temper tantrums last 30 seconds to 2 minutes and are most intense during the first 30 seconds. During a tantrum, a child may:

  • Cry, scream, or shout.
  • Arch the back or tense the body.
  • Flail the arms.

Temper tantrums are most likely to occur when a child is afraid, overtired, or uncomfortable. Breath-holding spells may sometimes occur with tantrums.

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Difficult behavior that frequently lasts longer than 15 minutes, occurs more than 3 times a day, or is more aggressive may mean that a child has a medical, emotional, or social problem that needs attention. These are not considered typical temper tantrums. Difficult behaviors may include:

  • Kicking, hitting, biting, scratching, hair-pulling, or pinching other people.
  • Throwing or breaking things.
  • Head-banging or inflicting self-injury.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 20, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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