4 Simple Reasons Behind Your Anxious Child’s Temper Tantrum

Tantrum child Temper tantrums can be complicated, or at least loads of people like to make them that way. While your anxious child’s outpouring of rage, frustration or other emotions can easily make a tantrum seem complicated, you may be surprised to find how frequently you can trace back the source to four simple reasons.

When Tantrums are Simple

The same four states that can contribute to tantrums in anxious children are the same things that can contribute to anxiety and stress in adults. The ongoing anxiety from which your anxious child suffers can make any situation seem extreme, and that counts double when it comes to these seemingly small but potentially explosive situations.

Hunger. Hunger is to crankiness like fish are to water. A baby’s first cries may come because he’s hungry and even adults who don’t eat when they’re hungry can quickly turn snippy and curt. If there’s neither time nor opportunity to eat a whole meal, at least consider carting around healthy snacks to keep your anxious kid’s tummy nice and full while you’re traveling.

Fatigue. Fatigue is about as close to crankiness as hunger and lacking sleep is another easy way to contribute to a tantrum. Even if your anxious kid goes to bed early, she may not be getting the quality sleep that makes a difference. Our sleep guide for anxious children offers bunches of tips to ensure both quality and quantity when it comes to sleep.

Overstimulation. Too much noise, too many colors and way too many activities can make an anxious child feel like he’s stuck in a Picasso painting. You’d have a tantrum, too! Paring down your anxious kid’s schedule to a reasonable amount of activities and ensuring down time is part of the schedule can help. More tips are available in our Flipping Ambition post that explains how to help your anxious child achieve more by slacking off (for real!).

Disrupted routine. Routine can make anyone feel comfortable and safe. And when a normal routine suddenly goes out the window, all control of emotions can go with it. Think of how annoyed you may get if someone dares move something from your desk or toys around with your computer settings. A disruption in routine can make a lot of people scary to deal with.

When Tantrums Can be Complicated

This is not to say tantrums are never a sign of more complicated issues at work. Just be wary of jumping to that conclusion and by all means see a doctor of your anxious kid seems to be suffering from something that goes deeper than a typical tantrum. The updated version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has elevated certain cases of the tantrum to official disorder status.

You can read more about all the changes coming to the DSM-5 in our complete guide, and one of those changes is the inclusion of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, or DMDD, which involves at least three tantrums per week for a 12-month period and is discussed in more detail on our DMDD post.