Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Adult Temper Tantrums Are *Not* Okay

Believe it or not, some adults are stuck in childhood to the degree that they occasionally have what I call an adult temper tantrum. People typically say an adult with this problem has a "bad temper" but the truth is that they have temper tantrums just like little kids do. In society, it seems to be more prevalent and accepted that men have bad tempers. Ever wonder what all the women do when society says it's not okay for them to turn over a table or scream all over the house? In a nutshell, women are more likely to internalize their feelings.

Recently a client of mine told me about what happens in her house when her husband loses his temper. In short, everyone gets scared and walks around on eggshells until her husband gets his mood under control. My client loves her husband but is afraid this trait will never change. I explain consistently with my clients that people can't necessarily change their personality, but they can certainly change their behaviors.

Let me be clear when I say this: If someone in your house is guilty of adult temper tantrums, you must say "No more." You must create a No Tantrum policy to protect the peace of your house and environment. Everyone must learn how to manage their feelings, and there are countless outlets that are good for frustration when someone feels overwhelmed.

The most important thing to do if someone in your life has tantrums that affect you is to sit the person down and seriously describe how the tantrums affect you. Explain that you are willing to work together with that person to help him or her find better ways to cope when he or she feels overwhelmed. Do not forget that adult tantrums must be unacceptable and understand that you must take a proactive approach to this problem if you ever want things to truly change.

24 comments:

betty said...

Hi Seth,
there is a direct connection to tantrums & men who have NPD or BPD. This is what I am assuming my x had because there was never a calm conversation. once i began to kindly explain how the put downs, blame & tantrums made me feel, he would interrupt & begin another tantrum. he would yell that i am always hurting his feelings & that i dont have a right to be hurt. i think these guys are different in that they lack empathy & if that is so, then is there any hope at all??

Agathos said...

Hi, I cannot put in words what I feel when I read this article and most importantly Betty's comments. I am in a similar situation as Betty and I am totally stressed out. I am not able to talk to him at all!! forget making him understand. I cannot see if anything can change him.....Please suggest, is there anyway to save my sanity by staying in the marriage?

Beth said...

Betty...you hit the nail on the head; No ability to calmly converse. Wow, been there with my husband for 11 years now. SO with all due respect Dr., when we live with this type of man, he can't sit down, talk, or listen to understand much of anything! So your suggestion to "talk to him about this", doesn't work. Obviously, we've tried that.
Thank you ladies for making me feel like I am not the only one!!

Carolynn said...

I agree with the doctors comments, however these individuals choose not to participate in a conversation that will be productive. I was so hurt by my husband of 8 years behavior that I wrote an email detailing his negative behavior, how it impacted me and that I wan no longer fearing his wrath. Of course, he did not respond. Sadly, I was left no choice but to file for divorce. Of course, he's more angry but I feel so liberated. I've chosen to take a positive spirit and will not argue, period! This has made him more angry. I'm not saying to anyone they should leave their spouse, but drastic action is necessary. Unfortunately, my husband refused counseling and would even bring MY child into his temper rages. ENOUGH!!!!! I wish you all well.

meg said...

I am convinced my husband is Aspergers.No amount of rational, calm discussion helps, it is all about him. For anyone in a volatile relationship google Aspergers Partners. Good Luck.

A.m. said...

I grew up around a father who had. temper tantrums two to four times a week. he used to say horrible things about me. did this do something to my person that I would like not be aware of/???

ffb38998-b195-11e1-9621-000f20980440 said...

Mouth wide open..I'm experiencing the same behavior with my fiancé.. I love this dude to death but his behavior has me questioning his love for me. When we sit down and are having a normal conversation he will start crying, slapping his hands together and just totally emotionally wrecked.. He has thrown things, broken things and yelled to the top of his lungs.. This is all while my 12 year old daughter is in the house.. He claims I don't do as much for him as he does for me in the relationship which I believe I try to ... But if I see that the conversation is about to get nasty I'll walk away.. He will than follow me blocking me in so that I have to stand and listen to him cry and yell.. I'm 7 months pregnant now so I try to avoid this type of situation all of the time.. He recently threw one of these tantrums and was asked to leave the home..I try talking to him but he just cuts me off constantly so he never hears my point of view because I never get to finish what I'm saying.. So I'm stuck just listening to him. I get so frustrated that I hold what I want to say and let him vent.. I really don't feel that anything that I'm doing or not doing should result into this type of behavior..

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Brenda K said...

Get out now! I've been walking on eggshells to keep the peace for 34 years. He asked me for a seperation on SuperBowl sunday. We are still in the same house because of financial reasons. I can't wait to get out of here, but as usual I am fixing the house up for resale, I did the first house on my own as well. I have had Arnold Chiari Malformation were I was going paralyzed from the neck down and had the most hidiouse operation to correct it, 7 days in the hospital, came home highly druged and he wanted to know what was for dinner. I got lung cancer and he wish that I would die, I had to have someone else take me to the daily radiation and chemo appointments. 2 1/2 years bedridden, had to be taught to walk again.2011 I picked myself up, quit all the drugs on my own and started exercising to lose all the weight that I had gained from being beddridden with a tube down my nose to feed me. All the while he is tell me to get my fat ass up off the couch and get a job. So I say to you GET OUT NOW or your life is going to be a misserable hell in which you only exist. No fun no happiness. They won't change. My son now is showing the same characteristics as his father, I wish I would have left him when my son was born.

Johnny Starr said...

Women throw many more temper tantrums than men do. Is this article a joke? Women in American society have the emotional stability and intelligence of 5 year olds.

alexis haddix said...

@mr. Starr you sound like one of these crazy abusers. Maybe a woman in your life sent you this to try to get you to see own unstable self. Hmmm? Grow up.

Wanderlustia said...

Have you ever thought that some adults are not aware of it? and that it's not fair to label an overload of the brain or senses as a tantrum or say that they are stuck in childhood? If you know that you are with someone with a mental illness or someone on the autism spectrum, then you should be prepared for some difficulties.

Calamity Anna said...

Thank you, Wanderlustia, that is what I came here to say as well. I'm searching for information on actually experiencing these tantrums as an adult - I'm not an abusive asshole. (And pretty sure no one will believe me!) I have bipolar II and get very overwhelmed sometimes, to the point of having a tantrum. This happens maybe once every six months but it's frightening when it does. A psychologist really should have a better understanding and compassion for folks who are mentally ill without labeling them as abusive or outright dangerous!

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deutschefrau said...

I have been married to my german man for 16 years. his anger is getting worse and worse. He won't listen to what I have, he gets angry at me or our two children. He yells at me. He puts holes in walls. I refuse to be the wife that walks on eggshells all the time. Grew up like that and saw what my mom went through. If I approach him w/ this, in a nice quiet talking manner, he gets mad, slams door, the usual tantrum and goes to bed pouting. This morning he's still as ass. My 13 year-old daughter can't stand his behavior. My 10 year son, doesn't want to talk about it. I believe if he tooks some anxiety pills it would help. How do I approach him?

Jenni Gor said...

Everyone else is on the borderline discussing issues that contribute to this kind of behavior. However, Brenda K alone cuts it very closely. We live in a very narcissistic society. Women especially, closet this personal behavior. They are lifetime abusers whose mentality is stuck somewhere between the ages of four and seven years old, that they perceive themselves as supremacy and everything else a mere figment of their universe. They order you to do this, do that, without caring or considering your physical state. Discussions do not help. Psychiatrists say that it is easier to quit narcotic abuse than this type of disorder. Put it plain and simple like Brenda K. They can only act but they do not change. GET OUT NOW.

Bugjuice said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Englishman31 said...

As a calm, compassionate guy who's done a lot inner work I must say that temper tantrums applies to women as well as men ! I've been married for four years and have a partner with this issue. Having a calm discussion without being interrupted or having her "loose it" again is not easy. I usually get an "apology" after she's calmed down but it's a recurring cycle that happens about twice a week.

I did have a book recommended by a guy who had anger issues and says that reading this changed his life and freed him from his anger issues. It's called "anger wisdom for cooling the flames" by Thich Nhat Hanh. I'm hopeful this can help us and anyone else in the same situation :)

ReikiRealtor10 said...

Having been raised in such an environment with my mother's irratic anger, I now have PTSD. She's now taking antidepressants that help, but she still triggers my PTSD symptoms with minimal stimulus.

WorkingOnIt said...

What am I if I yell back while my boyfriend was having his frequent temper tantrums? He would start yelling in the middle of a family picnic and I would have to take the kids and grab my purse and walk 12 miles just to get home. I would always remove myself from the situation. And then he would contact me or come by to my apartment and beg and plead to take him back and say all I have to do is alert him that he's having a tantrum and calm him down and he will work on it and improve. After two years of hearing that at least once a month I know all I did was teach him that it was okay. But in the last 6 months I've been yelling back. When he would take apart President Obama I would yelled back that instead of pointing your finger at someone so distant and not directly affecting your life why don't you look at your own life and improve your hoarding problem you're worshiping of dogs slash calling out your dog's name when we would have sex is a big problem you need to improve on.

Then after I saying in the church choir and I'm driving home from church he would yell at me that I'm a Godless woman and go into a huge temper tantrum about nothing going on in my life or his life. Then I found out he was listening to Breitbart News and other AM radio stations and I confronted him and said are you just yelling and screaming cuz you just heard it 5 minutes ago on your radio program? Think for yourself form opinions from your own research not from what people tell you. And what has this have to do about you and me? And then he would start verbally abusing me. And I would yell back you're an affront to all women I am a woman stop it now and apologize.

Then he would say I apologize you effing whore!

So I've ended everything. But I always wonder should I not have engaged? I yelled back because there was no come time to talk to him. I would always request can we get together walk the dogs and discuss how we are going to improve our relationship? He would agree to that appointment and then avoid the whole issue. Then he would blame me why do you always want to bring me down why do you always want to criticize me what about all your fault... So then I would ask him alright list the faults that are causing you a problem. List the faults that I am acting out to cause you to have these temper tantrums. And then he would call me a hot head because I would yell at him.

And I would say I wasn't aware of that. I thought I was reacting to your actions and I yell because you're not listening so I think if I'm yelling then you'll start listening. But it's not working for us it's not working for me so I'll stop yelling. And then I found if I didn't stand up 4 his verbal abuse and offensive remarks directed at me and my children then when I walked away he would call up later that night or the next morning and act like he did nothing wrong. And I was licking my wounds the whole night in fear and anxiety the next 24 hours the next week the next month the next year. What is going to set him off next? I got involved so many things that I only saw him twice a month. Even over Christmas I went to friends and thought it was best we take a break. He talked to me and initiated calls to me all during the Christmas week. And I demanded of him to start every communication with me with an apology. And he did it!

I told him of my gratitude and he is giving me hope that things are improving and I look forward to a healthy relationship with him. And as of December 29th I was an effing whore once again!
2017 is definitely going to be better than this! I purged all his contact information out of my phone. I delete when he text me. I have to make room to give love and patience and support to someone else. Instead of spending all my time analyzing why is this man having his temper tantrums and blaming me and justifying it repeatedly.

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