Temper Tantrums in Adults: Causes and Tips

Low frustration tolerance and stress can be causes of temper tantrums in adults. We'll give you strategies to deal with this situation here.
Temper Tantrums in Adults: Causes and Tips
Maria Fatima Seppi Vinuales

Written and verified by the psychologist Maria Fatima Seppi Vinuales.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words tantrum or temper tantrum? I’m sure you imagine it’s a kid thing.

Well, it is, and it has an explanation: their tantrums refer to a breakdown of their developing brain. That is, the structures that allow them to regulate themselves are not yet fully formed. Therefore, it’s to be expected that they have these emotional outbursts.

However, tantrums or tantrums in adults also happen, but for other reasons. Let’s see what they are.

We think you may also enjoy reading this article: 7 Toxic Emotions that are Keeping You from Being Happy

What are temper tantrums?

Although we’re used to the idea of temper tantrums in the world of children, they also appear in adult life. However, in this case, it’s a lack of social and emotional skills.

A tantrum or temper tantrum in adults speaks of an inability to manage emotions of frustration, rage, or anger. Thus, we react in a way that’s not appropriate for the situation.

That is, it is not about denying or avoiding the emotion we are feeling, but knowing how to channel and express it, so that the response is adaptive and respectful of the rights of others.

However, apart from the excessive nature of a tantrum, we must look a little further. The key is to determine what the underlying problem is.

Ataque de bronca en un adulto.
An access of anger in an adult can occur, although it’s also expected that the person has the resources to manage this emotion and channel it.

What is a temper tantrum in adults like?

The case can be presented in different ways. Among the most common are the following:

  • Sepulchral silence: When faced with a comment, hard words, or a refusal to a request, the tantrum reaction is absolute silence. Attempts may be made to talk to the person, but he/she does not answer, looks away, and ignores the other person completely.
  • Explosion: The person seems to go out of control. This may even be accompanied by physical changes, such as reddening of the face. Whoever observes the situation observes drama and exaggeration, as the tantrum escalates quickly. In the worst cases, the tantrum may escalate into insults and physical violence towards the other person or towards objects.
  • Passive aggressiveness: Sometimes, the person’s style is less confrontational, but just as aggressive. So he/she chooses to make certain hurtful comments.

The causes of temper tantrums in adults

Tantrums or temper tantrums in adults may be caused by many different reasons. Some of them are the following:

  • Low frustration tolerance: We ca’t stand when things don’t go or are not done the way we want.
  • Improper management of emotions: Emotions exist. They’re innate. However, reacting to them requires learning how to manage them. Many times, these outbursts or explosions of anger come from having repressed what you felt for a long time.
  • A mood problem of greater complexity: For example, anger and frustration are common symptoms of depression.

Like this article? You may also like to read: Teach Your Children How to Control Their Emotions

Tips for dealing with temper tantrums in adults

Some of the strategies we can practice to avoid ending up in a tantrum are the ones we will discuss now. Try to apply them if you think someone’s temper tantrums sometimes get out of control.

Set boundaries

To avoid conflict, it’s important to keep to ourselves control what happens to us or what provokes us in a certain situation. However, drop by drop, the glass fills up and the day comes when it overflows. That day is the day of the tantrum.

Learn to identify your triggers

Not all situations or comments affect us in the same way. To help control ourselves, it’s important to find out what it is that bothers us so much.

Then we can avoid these circumstances, prepare to deal, with them or use other strategies to help us react in a better way. When has this happened to you before? This can be a guiding question.

In the same vein, learn to identify what are the physical symptoms that accompany the anger attack. Do you experience tension in the body, palpitations, or clenched teeth? This way, you’ll be able to recognize them earlier.

Find leisure and relaxation spaces

It’s essential to be able to disconnect from your obligations and routines to be calm. A stressed mind is much more likely to have explosions of anger.

Meanwhile, finding spaces to relax is all about learning to breathe to give a calmer and less impulsive response. Mindfulness and yoga are some of the options that can help.

temper tantrums in adults can be helped with exercise
Look for spaces that are pleasant for you and practice activities that connect you with your inner self to avoid tantrums.

Ask for professional help for temper tantrums in adults

Sometimes, anger and frustration management requires work and guided accompaniment since both emotions are linked to other experiences and memories.

Emotions are an important part of life

Tantrums are often seen as derogatory things. We sometimes underestimate the cause or what they express in a covert or inadequate way. Perhaps what’s happening to us goes against our true desires. Sometimes, emotions are the only way we can learn what we really want according to our developmental resources.

Undoubtedly, an adequate expression of emotions is a decisive factor in a good quality of life. And that’s why we need to learn how to listen to them and manage them correctly.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.