Anatomy of a Tantrum


By Elaine Frank, a clinician who has led parent child groups in Philadelphia for over 30 years



In the dictionary, the word TANTRUM is defined this way – an uncontrolled outburst of anger and frustration, typically in a young child.; “he has temper tantrums if he can’t get his own way;” fit of temper, fit of rage, outburst, paroxysm, frenzy, bad mood, huff, scene.

When speaking of a child the emphasis is on the ‘uncontrolled outburst’ aspect of this activity!

Most often tantrums occur in children from around 15 months to 3 to 4 years of age.  The cause is usually frustration triggered by the child’s conflict about both wanting what he wants and wanting to keep his or her parents’ love and attention. And this is entirely normal for this age group. In fact, tantrums are even normal for older children, adolescents and adults who haven’t progressed to being fully able to control their own tempers, express their feelings in words, or who are pushed to extremes by unfortunate circumstances.

So WHAT causes the baby’s first tantrums? Continue reading