Friday, February 01, 2008


quick temper
Originally uploaded by Oldmaison

When tantrums mean trouble
Several signs should alert parents that their child's behavior needs attention
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
By Mackenzie Carpenter, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Daniel Marsula/Post-Gazette illustrationTimeouts? Forget it. Spanking? Nope.

When Marianne Peterson's toddlers went into meltdown mode, she had a simple, foolproof method for stopping them cold.

"I would lie on them," said Ms. Peterson, 57, of Ashland, Va., noting that her children, now grown, have turned out fine.

"The weight and novelty were enough to distract them," she added, "and I swear to God, they actually smiled a few times, I suppose, at my ingeniousness."

An extreme measure? Perhaps, but throughout human history toddler tantrums have driven parents wild and perhaps even a little crazy. When the kicking, back-arching, fist-pounding and shrieking erupts just when Mom gets to the head of a supermarket line of grumpy, disapproving shoppers, it's hard for a parent to remember that the "terrible twos" are just part of a young child's healthy emotional development.

Now, though, a new Washington University study is weighing in with a cautionary note: particularly severe, long-lasting and frequent tantrums may not be a sign of normalcy but possible red flags for deeper psychological disorders.

Tantrums that last more than 25 minutes, or tantrums that more than half the time involve aggression against a caregiver or violence toward objects as well as self-injurious behavior and frequent tantrums -- from 10 to 20 a day over a 30-day period -- may be a sign that professional intervention may be needed, said Andrew Belden, a postdoctoral fellow of psychiatry at Washington University's school of medicine, and one of the report's co-authors.

The study, published in the December issue of the Journal of Pediatrics, is part of a larger, long-term project by researchers at Washington University examining depression in preschoolers, about which relatively little is known -- compared with disruptive disorders such as attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD); oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder, which are defined in a diagnostic manual for psychiatrists as aggressive or destructive behavior.

The findings on tantrums come at a time when, anecdotally at least, caregivers are reporting an increase in behavioral problems among preschoolers, for reasons that aren't quite clear. Some blame the new focus on academics in preschools, others blame poor day care or untrained caregivers or a society where family ties are increasingly strained.

"There do seem to be more stresses on parents now, but I also think there is a lot more information available to parents about child behavioral problems, and parents feel a pressure to get it all right that 20 years ago we didn't feel," says Sue Berman, a Squirrel Hill psychologist, parenting coach and founder of ProParent, which helps parents devise strategies for coping with "difficult" children.

"I'm not certain whether you're seeing more acting out, or whether it's just that parents don't tolerate it as much. Thirty or 40 years ago, we had the authoritarian parenting style, where it was completely accepted and acceptable to give a kid a swat on the tush. Fear-based parenting has been replaced by a very different approach, where we allow children to express themselves, but there's a price to be paid for that."

Normal vs. abnormal

Tantrums by themselves shouldn't worry parents -- it's how many, how long and how severe, said Dr. Belden.

"The take-home message here is about consistency. If a tantrum lasts longer than 30 minutes every time, or 90 percent of the time," then attention must be paid, "as opposed to such random, sporadic episodes that are much more typical of what we would expect to see in healthy kids."

"There were children in our study who would throw themselves to the ground and in the process hurt themselves," he said. "We had children who were taking toys and scratching themselves to the point of bleeding, "

While Washington University and other academic institutions are trying to unlock the secrets of depression in children, the notion of mental illness in toddlers -- even infants -- has been a tough sell to the public in recent years, and a number of researchers remain skeptical that such disorders as depression can be ever diagnosed in very young children.

"We have much more understanding about how it presents in adults, but in children, we're not convinced we know what it looks like to begin with," said Dr. Amanda Pelphrey, clinical psychologist at Children's Hospital Child Development Unit.

"Developmentally children change over time, and it's hard to characterize one moment in time for being a comfortably reliable indicator of how that child will be," she said. "If you have a diagnosis, you assume that there's a certain stability about that person, but among children there's a very wide range about what is normal."

The Child Development Unit at Children's has seen 1,500 youngsters over the years for a variety of problems, but not one has been diagnosed with depression, she noted.

Accurate diagnosis difficult

Small children aren't good at regulating their emotions, she added, "especially preschoolers, and that's normal, too. Much of the challenge is, how confidently can we accurately label them and assume that a psychiatric illness is involved?"

Heather Ditillo, a former Head Start teacher in Altoona, remembers "children with very, very severe tantrums. While in some cases they were normal developmental things you could see, there were a few children whose tantrums had crossed the line from anger to rage. It was obvious to me as a teacher that these weren't normal," she said. "They were regularly happening, where they were attacking other kids and throwing objects around the room."

Later, after psychological intervention, it was discovered that one child with severe tantrums had been abused and tortured and another "was sexually abused. It was heart wrenching."

Dr. Belden knows that the whole inquiry into depression in preschoolers is controversial, but be believes it's worth pursuing. Still, he doesn't want to give parents one more thing to worry about.

"My biggest concern is that parents not read into this, 'Oh my God, my kid has ADHD,' " said Dr. Belden.

"It's not like you need to have a stopwatch ready when your child has a tantrum," he said, noting that the study's findings are aimed less at parents and more at providing teachers, caregivers and other professionals with a tool to detect any underlying problems earlier.

Still, parents should stay vigilant.

If a child has more than three or four tantrums a day for five consecutive days outside the home, for example, "and parents are pretty confident it's not because of sleep, hunger or sickness," he said, they should discuss the matter with their pediatrician -- because such behavior is "not all that typical, not all that common in healthy kids."

• The five red flags that your child's tantrums could lead to more serious problems and resources for parents seeking help, C-2


Anonymous said...


Wanted: Better health care
Premier Shawn Graham is promising to beef up health-care services in Fredericton and hire an extra 100 doctors across the province by 2012

hahaha,Got Red Skelton all beat.

An I'm gonna get the hay in bout christmas time dad.hohoho.

Anonymous said...

Months of uncertainty over the Liberal government's direction ended Thursday night when Premier Shawn Graham unfolded a detailed roadmap to self-sufficiency, er,what was it again?hahaha

Set for effect after end of Mayan civilization.haha
Is he a pig farmer too?

Anonymous said...

God hes embarrassing.Can he not just announce whatever it is that the federal government has deligated him to without the dumb statements.Another EXCITED mckenna?

N.B. premier all but gives green light to second nuclear reactor
20 hours ago

FREDERICTON - New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham has all but given the green light to a new nuclear power station on the shores of the Bay of Fundy.

Although a feasibility study on the proposed second reactor at Point Lepreau isn't expected until next week, Graham says the results of the study have exceeded expectations.

He says in his state-of-the-province address, the project would bring 4,000 construction jobs to the province and create 500 permanent, high-paying jobs to run the facility.

Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. and Team Candu, a group of private nuclear companies, is looking into the electricity market for power from a second reactor at Point Lepreau.

The proposed $5-billion to $6-billion reactor would be the world's first 1,100-megawatt Advanced Candu Reactor-1000 and promoters say it would position the Maritime province at the forefront of a global nuclear renaissance.

Graham says building the giant reactor would allow New Brunswick to develop expertise around research, training, manufacturing and design.

hahaha,then they can build some CAT FERRIES for BC.haha.

Anonymous said...

"a society where family ties are increasingly strained"

No amount of money is going to buy your way out of that - unless you really mean "no amount of money" - shutting the fraudulent banks might be a good start.

Anonymous said...

You can imagine the disaster and turmoil going on in a 5 year old entering school in a strange language.I have watched the devastation it causes in these very sensitive minds causing a tear in families

Get rid of this idiotic archaic useless failed idea of someone born in the river drive age.
Which has now turned into a federally subsidized paid lobby group called Canadian Parents for French New Brunswick who have money making affiliates all across canada and the united states,using your kids to subsidize their huge salaries,along with the usual no tax by claiming religious affiliation.
Just look what this stupid Idea has done to the NB people in the past 40 years,and you will see your child's future,which will be MOVE WEST.KOREA,JAPAN.
What a shame from the wimpy cowardly English.