Temper Tantrum: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 12/19/2019

Temper tantrums are periods of excessive crying or fussing most commonly seen in toddlers in the 2-4 year age range. Temper tantrums are a behavioral occurrence, and the term is not a medical diagnosis. Temper tantrums are very common.

Symptoms of temper tantrums include

  • whining,
  • thrashing the body,
  • tensing muscles,
  • biting,
  • pinching,
  • holding the breath,
  • kicking,
  • hitting,
  • crying,
  • screaming,
  • yelling, and
  • flailing arms and legs.

The child is typically not able to explain or articulate the reason for their uncontrolled emotional and physical outburst.

Cause of temper tantrums

A number of factors, including illness, pain, discomfort, frustration, anger, or hunger, may cause temper tantrums. They may also be related to emotional, developmental, and physical immaturity.

Other temper tantrum symptoms and signs

  • Biting
  • Crying
  • Flailing Arms and Legs
  • Hitting
  • Holding the Breath
  • Kicking
  • Pinching
  • Screaming
  • Tensing Muscles
  • Thrashing the Body
  • Whining
  • Yelling


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.