Anger Tantrums

Preschool children have anger tantrums mostly until age 4 but children with Asperger Syndrome can have tantrums much longer. Outbursts of anger or anger tantrums are common in young preschool children starting at age 2 to 3 and will start to decline normally at age 4. It’s a way to express their anger by dropping to the floor, kicking and screaming or even holding their breath. Young children like preschoolers do not have enough words to express their feelings of frustration in a normal way. This is the reason anger tantrums are common among young children and even appear more often in children diagnosed with Asperger.

Children with Asperger Syndrome have difficulty in communication, a wish for everything to stay the same and sticking to their favorite routines. If something unexpected happens they can get angry easily. When they do not understand what they are told or what is expected from them they get upset. Their frustration levels are much higher and even the slightest thing can set them off. A change in environment or routine, being criticized or yelled at or not being able to express your feelings in a different way. To outsiders their sometimes violent tantrums seem to be without a cause. As a parent of two boys with Asperger I know from experience there is always a reason for them to express their frustration in such a way.Reading about it can help you finding ways to cope with anger. it has helped me to deal with my son's anger tantrums.

Causes of anger tantrums

Children with Asperger have more trouble communication so are unable to express their frustration in a more acceptable way. Their anxiety level is much higher and they are known for their extreme reactions. It can be as simple as being touched unexpectedly or a stranger bumping into them and they feel it was done on purpose. Another problems for those with Asperger can be sensory overload Some children with Asperger, including my own, have great difficulty with their senses such as the feel of their clothes, tags inside their clothes or the taste or texture of certain foods in their mouth. These uncomfortable senses make them feel uneasy and lead to built up stress. Anger tantrums can be a seen as a stress release.

What NOT to do:

One thing I learned from an expert over the years is this: never give in when they are throwing an anger tantrum. For example: if you child asks for a cookie and has an anger tantrum because you said no, you will reward him for this behavior if you give him the cookie anyway. This way they are rewarded for their unacceptable behavior and guess what: they will do it again and again and again because it pays off! I know it’s hard to stay calm but shouting back will not work, hitting you child will not work either. Realize it is the only way they can get rid of their frustration.

What you can do:

Isolated your child or walk away from the scene yourself if you feel unable to control your own feelings. Be direct and tell them they are on time out so they can calm down until they are able to talk about it.Find out the reason why your child has an anger tantrum so you both can learn to avoid it in the future. Trying to distract or redirect your child might help when they are still young. Holding your child firmly and not allowing him or her to escape can work sometimes. It is called holding therapy and it can have a calming effect when deep pressure is put on the body. What worked for me and my son was to put our hands against each other and let him try to push me as far away from him as possible. It would put pressure and strain on his arms and legs and help him to vent his frustrations. Don’t let him push your body or get physical, just pushing through the hands will calm him down. I never gave my children the idea they should be ashamed for their feelings of frustration or anger. It’s okay to be angry but it’s not okay to hit or hurt somebody because of it. Being angry is not something they are able to control, but they do have a choice what they do with their anger. Try to talk about it to them, create an open communication with your child. Support him or her in any way you possibly can.

Just never give in to their expressed wishes while they are angry or they will learn being angry and throwing anger tantrums will pay off and give them what they wanted in the first place.

Back to Behavior

Back to Homepage