Open Access Articles- Top Results for Tantrum


For other uses, see Tantrum (disambiguation).

A tantrum (or temper tantrum or tirade or hissy fit) is an emotional outburst, usually associated with children or those in emotional distress, that is typically characterized by stubbornness, crying, screaming, yelling, shrieking, defiance, angry ranting, a resistance to attempts at pacification and, in some cases, violence. Physical control may be lost, the person may be unable to remain still, and even if the "goal" of the person is met he or she may not be calmed.[1][2][3][4][5] A tantrum may be expressed in a tirade: a protracted, angry, or violent speech.[1][2]


Tantrums are one of the most common forms of problematic behaviour in young children but tend to decrease in frequency and intensity as the child grows older. For the toddler, tantrums can be considered as normal, even as gauges of a developing strength of character.[6]

While tantrums are sometimes seen as a predictor of future anti-social behaviour,[7] in another sense they are simply an age-appropriate sign of excessive frustration, and will diminish over time given a calm and consistent handling.[8] Parental containment where a child cannot contain itself - rather than what the child is ostensibly demanding - may be what is really required.[9]

Selma Fraiberg warned however against excessive outside pressure and control in child-rearing, which may in itself provoke tantrums and nursery revolt.[10]


Freud considered that the Wolf Man's development of temper tantrums was connected with his seduction by his sister: he became "discontented, irritable and violent, took offence on every possible occasion, and then flew into a rage and screamed like a savage".[11] Freud linked the tantrums to an unconscious need for punishment driven by feelings of guilt[12] - something which he thought could be generalised to many other cases of childhood tantrums.[13]

Heinz Kohut contended that tantrums were narcissistic rages,[14] caused by the thwarting of the infant's grandiose-exhibitionist core. The blow to the inflated self-image, when a child's wishes are (however justifiably) refused, creates fury because it strikes at the feeling of omnipotence.[15]

Jealousy over the birth of a sibling, and resulting aggression, may also provoke negativistic tantrums, as the effort at controlling the feelings overloads the child's system of self-regulation.[16]

Some people who have neurological disorders such as the combination of autism or mental retardation[17] could be more prone to tantrums than others, although anyone experiencing forebrain damage (temporary or permanent) can suffer from tantrums. Anyone may be prone to tantrums once in a while, regardless of gender or age.

In later life

Thackeray claimed that in later life 'you may tell a Tantrum as far as you can see one, by the distressed and dissatisfied expression of its countenance - "Tantrumical", if we may term it so'.[18]

The willingness of the celebrity to throw tantrums whenever thwarted to the least degree[19] is a kind of Acquired Situational Narcissism[20] - tantrumical.

Notable people

  • Tennis player Ilie Năstase is best remembered for being one of the best players never to win the singles title at Wimbledon and for his tantrums.[21]

Examples from media

  • The Town Santa Forgot, an animated television special, is the story is of Jeremy Creek, a boy who knows nothing but greed. He throws temper tantrums any time he sees what he wants, and he wants everything he sees.

See also


  1. ^ a b "What is a tantrum?". Retrieved 2011-03-20. 
  2. ^ a b "Temper Tantrums". Retrieved 2011-03-20. 
  3. ^ "Tantrums". BabyCenter. Retrieved 2011-03-20. 
  4. ^ "When a Child Has a Tantrum - The Natural Child Project". Retrieved 2011-03-20. 
  5. ^ "Make Nice With Mom". Girl World Daily. 2003-04-03. Retrieved 2011-03-20. 
  6. ^ Robin Skynner/John Cleese, Families and how to survive them (London 1993) p. 177
  7. ^ Potegal, Michael Ph.D., L.P.; Davidson, Richard J. Ph.D. (June 2003). "Temper Tantrums in Young Children". Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics 24 (3): 140–147. 
  8. ^ Roy Benaroch, Solving Health and Behavioral Problems from Birth Through Preschool (2008) p. 157
  9. ^ Patrick Casement, Further Learning from the Patient (London 1990) p. 113-4
  10. ^ Selma H. Fraiberg, The Magic Years (New York 1987) p. 65
  11. ^ Sigmund Freud, Case Histories II (PFL 9) p. 242
  12. ^ Freud, p. 257
  13. ^ Sigmund Freud, Case Histories II (PFL 9) p. 257-8 and p. 242
  14. ^ H. and I. Goldenberg, Family Therapy (2007) p. 172
  15. ^ Edmund Bergler in J. Halliday/P. Fuller eds., The Psychology of Gambling (London 1974) p. 182
  16. ^ Selma H. Fraiberg, The Magic Years (New York 1987) p. 152
  17. ^ Dominick KC, Davis NO, Lainhart J, Tager-Flusberg H, Folstein S (2007). "Atypical behaviors in children with autism and children with a history of language impairment". Res Dev Disabil 28 (2): 145–62. PMID 16581226. doi:10.1016/j.ridd.2006.02.003. 
  18. ^ William Makepeace Thackeray, The Irish Sketch Book (1848) p. 138
  19. ^ Cooper Lawrence, The Cult of Celebrity (2009) p. 72
  20. ^ Simon Crompton, All about Me (London 2007) p. 176
  21. ^ "Nastase embodies an era with a touch of class". The Independent (London). June 28, 2003. Retrieved May 5, 2010.