Temper tantrum

From NIH Medical Encyclopedia,

Temper tantrums are unpleasant and disruptive behaviors or emotional outbursts. They often occur in response to unmet needs or desires. Tantrums are more likely to occur in younger children or others who cannot express their needs or control their emotions when they are frustrated.

Temper tantrum is commonly used to describe the behavior of young children, but the basic emotions that lead to tantrums—frustration and distress arising from unmet desires, desire for control, attention seeking—are felt throughout a person's lifetime. Adults express tantrums more sophistically: rather than an outward physical outburst of violent and disruptive behavior which is considered to be a taboo, many learned to internalize tantrums to avoid the taboo. But the internalization may be harmful to one's well-being. It can lead to guilt and denial of emotions that are an essential part of the experience of being human. Trying to control one's emotion can turn a person cold-blooded and lacking empathy.

When we experience the emotions of a tantrum, adult and child alike need to identify the issue that leads to these emotions and find a way to address it. The issue may purely be distress caused by a biological need, such as hunger or thirst. It may be a physical illness. These may be challenging for a child to explain before he learns the language, so a parent needs to help the child identify the underlying issue; it would not be a problem for adults. If the frustration is caused by other unmet desires, one has to make a conscious effort to turn that either into the motivation to attain the desired objective, or the consolation to accept that some objectives simply cannot be met. Perseverance may help.

Sometimes the tantrum is caused by a social desire, such as attention seeking. It is also perfectly normal,

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”——Genesis 2:18.

Humans are social creatures; having each other's attention strengthens the social bond between two people, and out of this social bond grows love. But at the same time, one has to respect others when interacting with them, including to respect the fact that it may not be a good time for the other person, or that the other person simply doesn't want to associate with you. The rejection may be hard to take, but if we are committed to treat others the way we want to be treated, then we may live without regret:

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life.——Philippians 2:14-16.

If the tantrum is caused by a more aggressive form of social desire such as power seeking, then such desire may need to be corrected before it ruins relationships and one's own social standing. It helps to understand how authority works.

Comments