Your Child’s Level 10 Temper Tantrums Might Reveal Their Mental Health Status

tantrumsResearchers are sniffing out the origins of behavior problems and mental health issues and they’re starting with a kid’s temper tantrum. The parking lot or grocery store embarrassment may leave parents mortified, but a team of researchers is leaning in for clues surrounding this time-honored parenting joy.

MyHealthDailyNews reports that that temper tantrums from “time to time” are nothing to be worried about, but daily scream fests are reasons to be alarmed. Primarily because they’re pretty rare:

Based on a survey of nearly 1,500 parents, the study found that 84 percent of preschool kids had thrown a tantrum within the past month, but just 8.6 percent had daily tantrums.

That finding indicates that, even in young children, daily tantrums are not typical and may suggest deeper problems, said study researcher Lauren Wakschlag of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Other patterns that peeked researchers’ concern were frequent tantrums that happened “out of the blue.” Translation on this: tantrums that occurred not because the child was necessarily angry or frustrated. Dr. Wakschlag also noted that it was uncommon for kids to have tantrums that lasted “a long time” or that they didn’t bounce back from. Only 14 percent of kids threw tantrums that last more than five minutes. Only a few kids became outwardly aggressive during their tantrums with lovely behaviors such as kicking or biting.

The children studied were also less inclined to throw a fit with an adult who was not their parent (tip!)

Yet, researchers note that even children are capable of having a bad day. A one-off sobbing stare down at the end of a playdate is no reason to be alarmed. It’s more so routine behaviors like the aforementioned that have Dr. Wakschlag and company worried. The bottom line, they say, is that more research is needed in this arena of child development. And the last thing they want to support — and this is an applaudable one — is the overtreatment (and therefore overmedication) of children who present atypical behaviors.

Less pills. More research!

(photo: Gelpi/ Shutterstock)

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