Skip to content

    Health & Parenting

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    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 distress."

    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 circle."

    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.

    1 | 2

    Today on WebMD

    Girl holding up card with BMI written
    Is your child at a healthy weight?
    toddler climbing
    What happens in your child’s second year.
     
    father and son with laundry basket
    Get your kids to help around the house.
    boy frowning at brocolli
    Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
     
    mother and daughter talking
    Tool
    child brushing his teeth
    Slideshow
     
    Sipping hot tea
    Slideshow
    Young woman holding lip at dentists office
    Video
     
    Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
    Article
    rl with friends
    fitSlideshow
     
    tissue box
    Quiz
    Child with adhd
    Slideshow