Temper tantrum

A temper tantrum is an unplanned, unintentional expression of anger. During a temper tantrum, a person may have an outburst of crying, yelling, and flailing of arms and legs.

Temper tantrums usually are most intense during the first 30 seconds. They last 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

People do not have temper tantrums to get attention. Rather, a tantrum is usually a response to extreme frustration. Although temper tantrums can occur at any age, even during adulthood, they are most common in children between the ages of 1 and 4 years.

As children grow older, they learn healthier ways to handle their anger. Children who continue to have tantrums after the age of 4 usually need help learning to deal with anger.

Last Updated: November 20, 2008

Author: Debby Golonka, MPH

Medical Review: Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics & Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics

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