Temper tantrums are a form of manipulative behavior on the part of a child, characterized by screaming, kicking, breath-holding, and extreme agitation. This response is often seen in infants or very young children when they are frustrated or refused something they badly want. They may become angry or jealous and may use this method to blackmail parents into giving in to them. It is a fairly common behavior reaction in children from one to four. Temper tantrums which occur in older age groups (children of eight, nine, or adolescents) are a more serious behavior disorder and will require different treatment.
If a temper tantrum is met with indifference and nonchalance, the child will soon observe that kicking and screaming serve no good purpose and are self-defeating procedures. If a child is given what he wishes because the parents become intimidated, he will learn that he can do this whenever he wishes to get his way. It is a very bad emotional habit to encourage. It is not usually necessary to punish the child who has temper tantrums. Just refusing to acknowledge him and handling the situation with calm and firm tolerance is probably the best procedure.
Impulse control and its mastery are a requirement of normal emotional development. Temper tantrums may sometimes occur in neurologically damaged or defective children because of inability to control their impulses. In these cases it may be necessary to treat them with medication and sedation.