Children

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Temper tantrums

Temper tantrums are a common and expected occurrence in normal childhood development. Temper tantrums consist of disruptive behaviors in a child including: crying, yelling, hitting, throwing, whining and other intense and emotional behaviors often occurring because the child is not obtaining their desired goal.

Temper tantrums are typically thought of as occurring in younger children (age 2-5), but can and do occur in children upwards to the age of 12.

When temper tantrums become uncomfortably intense, unusually frequent and/or do not show signs of dissipating they may be the precursor to more serious problems with opposition, self-regulation, and behavior control. Temper tantrums may simply be related to well-intentioned parenting techniques that are not working.

The Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Program can assist in the evaluation and treatment of children with temper tantrums and work with the parents and child to develop a sound foundation for parent interventions and positive child behavior.

To accomplish the reduction/elimination of temper tantrums an assessment is completed with the parent and child consisting of:

A clinical interview with parent and child:

  • Behavioral observation and interaction
  • Family history
  • Patient developmental and medical history
  • With parental consent, information from school, day care, or other providers

Treatment for temper tantrums can include:

  • Modeling interventions for children
  • Individual child-centered parent’s guidance sessions
  • Individual child sessions
  • Referral for medication management if necessary

Many children respond quickly and positively to the introduction of simple, consistent guidelines within the family home. Our clinic teaches parents to understand temper tantrum behavior and support the use of consistent strength based interventions (the importance of consistency, how negative behaviors are sometimes reinforced, the appropriate use of consequences, and more). The ultimate goal in working with parents and their children is to reduce/eliminate temper tantrum frequency and intensity and to develop the child and parent strengths.

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