tantrum in adults

The Signs of Tantrum in Adults

Last Updated on November 24, 2022 by Anne-Sophie Reinhardt

Tantrum in adults are hard to imagine. A temper tantrum is usually pictured as a two-year old screaming and lying on the ground. Temper tantrums are an expected part of childhood development. Between the ages one and four, they are a common outburst in anger or frustration. Children “grow out of” their temper tantrum-prone behavior by learning how to communicate their feelings in a socially acceptable way.

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Possible Causes of Adults Temper Tantrum

Temper tantrums can be caused by medical conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or personality disorders like Narcissism. These are used to manipulate others, distract attention from other issues, cover up shame, guilt, or anger, or get attention. Temper tantrums can also be caused by substance abuse. It doesn’t matter what the reason for an adult temper tantrum is, it can reflect badly on the individual who has it.

What does Tantrum in Adults Look Like?

What does Tantrum in Adults Look Like?

Adults can have uncontrolled outbursts. An adult temper tantrum is when a person can’t cope with negative emotions, or is unable to calm down. Adult temper tantrums may be verbal or physical. Someone might curse, shout, bang on doors, kick, or throw things around.

Adult temper tantrums can be tolerated, even though they have a negative effect on others. These outbursts can be referred to as “blowing off some steam”, “being stressed”, or “being pushed too hard”. However, referring to them as something else doesn’t change their reality: They are uncontrolled outbursts or frustrations commonly called a temper tantrum.

What to do When Adults throw Temper Tantrums: 

When confronted with an Adult Temper Tantrum, one of the most important things is to recognize the signs and patterns that can lead towards outbursts. If you see that there is a tantrum, it’s time to get out of the way.

5 Common signs of a temper tantrum build up are: 

  1. Increased agitation/irritability
  2. Walking fast and/or pacing back-and-forth
  3. Aggressive gestures with the hands and head
  4. Tensed face, shoulders, and/or fisted fingers
  5. Speaking faster than usual

During a Temper Tantrum

During a Temper Tantrum

It is impossible to reason with someone who is in the throes of a temper tantrum.

  • Move on
  • While they calm down, distract yourself with another activity.
  • Deep breathing is a great way to calm down

It is crucial to get out of the building if the tantrum is caused by drugs or alcohol, or if the person is threatening violence. If the person causing the tantrum is threatening their own safety or the safety of others, it is possible to call the police.

After a Temper Tantrum in Adults

Temper tantrums in adulthood should not be considered normal or acceptable. It is difficult to accept that adult temper tantrums are unacceptable and must be addressed. When confronted by someone with temper tantrums, people are often reluctant to reveal the behavior because it is embarrassing and shameful for them. This is actually condoning the behavior and could lead to an increase in the severity of the problem. Once the person has calmed down, talk to them in a quiet, even tone.

5 Points to Navigate after an Adult Temper Tantrum:

  1. You should remind them that they can feel frustrated or angry, but it is not appropriate or acceptable for them to express their feelings.
  2. Ask them why they answered the way they did.
  3. Consider how they would react if you reversed your roles
  4. Ask them what they would do, if they behaved the same way.
  5. Ask them to tell you what they think could be done in the future to stop another outburst.

You are basically trying to highlight the fact that their behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated moving forward, even from their perspective. These discussions should aim to find a solution to this problem.

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