Temper tantrums can be seen in many individuals, from babies who don’t know how to get what they want , to adults who are undergoing a similar problem. When it is a child who is expressing themselves in such an uncontrollable manner we are not surprised. We understand that young children go through phases such as this as they learn how to manage their feelings better and work out how to satisfy their needs.
When adults stomp up and down a room, waving their arms in the air and shouting we tend to be less tolerant as we expect them to have grown out of this type of behaviour. If it us that’s having a tantrum we are equally perplexed. As our rage ensues uncontrollably we can’t understand why the world seems so against us and we can’t sort our problems out.
One of the main reasons for temper tantrums has to do with an inability to communicate ones needs effectively. Just as a baby or small child cries and screams because they can’t yet speak, and so say what their problem is, adults who haven’t learned how to express themselves adequately vent their frustrations in a similar manner.
A skill which most of us learn as we grow up is how to delay meeting our needs until an appropriate time arises. Thus we learn that we can’t always get what we want immediately and we develop patience as a result. As babies we don’t yet have this skill, so when we want something we scream until we get it.
Adults who haven’t yet learned the art of delaying gratification/satisfaction are impatient. Whether it is an answer to a question that they want or a sausage sandwich which isn’t forthcoming their temper flares due to their needs not being met quickly.
While some feelings can be wonderful, others can be dreadful, especially if you can’t figure out where they came from, how to control them or identify exactly what they are. People who have uncontrollable bouts of anger often understand that they have strong feelings, but they can’t sort them out in an orderly fashion and don’t know what to do with them. The result is that feelings build up and then tumble out of control indiscriminately.
If a person has a temper tantrum that lasts more than a few seconds it is usually when there is another person present. Faced with a frustrating or difficult situation when alone, a person who is quick to let anger rip is unlikely to make too much of a fuss about what’s upsetting them.
This may partly be due to the fact that they want help from another person as they don’t know how to help themselves. However, leaving such an individual to cool off and calm down, rather than staying to witness their behaviour, is usually the best response to make. Later on, when they are able to think straight, they may be more receptive to talking about their feelings.
Frustration may build due to a variety of reasons, but the main one is possibly an individuals annoyance with themselves and their lack of ability to overcome difficulties. Pressure to be at a certain place at a certain time, or to achieve more than an individual feels able, can make them angry with themselves and others who they see as the cause of the pressure that they feel.
Temper tantrums don’t have to be an on going problem. They can be reduced, or possibly eliminated if the person who has them is willing to tackle their problems and learn how to handle their emotions. Talking through difficulties with expression, and taking note of any triggers which precede tantrums, can help people to cope better.