Characteristics of temper tantrums in preschoolers with disruptive behavior in a clinical setting.


Journal Article

The purpose of this study was to describe clinician-observed, naturally occurring temper tantrums in preschoolers ages 2 to 5.5 diagnosed with severe behavior problems. Participants were 24 mother-child dyads enrolled in an intensive outpatient treatment program. Clinicians timed and observed 330 temper tantrums, rated their intensity, and recorded occurrence of 16 behaviors, tantrum precipitants, and interventions; parents completed the Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist pre- and posttreatment. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, Pearson chi square, paired t tests, and generalized linear modeling. Mean tantrum duration was 3.4 minutes (range = 0.2 to 26.5 minutes); most tantrums were low in intensity. Noncompliance precipitated 52% of tantrums. Aggressive behaviors were more likely to occur early in tantrums, with distress behaviors occurring later. Parent surveys indicated perceptions of behavioral improvement but no change in tantrum behavior. Study findings corroborate those of previous studies using retrospective parent reports.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Eisbach, SS; Cluxton-Keller, F; Harrison, J; Krall, JR; Hayat, M; Gross, D

Published Date

  • May 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 52 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 32 - 40

PubMed ID

  • 24444385

Pubmed Central ID

  • 24444385

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0279-3695

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.3928/02793695-20140110-02


  • eng