The science behind toddler temper tantrums revealed

By studying the sounds toddlers make during tantrums, researchers have found rhythms that they hope will help parents know when to step in

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Think your child’s tantrums are just wild screaming, kicking and shouting? Think again, as new research shows tantrums have a distinct pattern and rhythm.

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Researchers at the University of Minnesota and the University of Connecticut recorded the sounds of over 100 tantrums using a special onesie suit worn by toddlers with a wireless microphone sewn into it.

When researchers replayed the audio, they discovered specific patterns – and most mums will be unsurprised to hear that yelling and screaming usually went together!

“Throwing things and pulling and pushing things tend to go together. Combinations of crying, whining, falling to the floor and seeking comfort — and these also hang together,” said study co-author Michael Potegal.

“The impression that tantrums have two stages is incorrect. In fact, the anger and the sadness are more or less simultaneous,” he added.

The study, published in the journal Emotion, found that sad sounds tended to occur throughout tantrums, with sharp peaks of yelling and screaming in anger.

The researchers said the trick in getting a tantrum to end as soon as possible was to get the child past the peaks of anger by doing nothing. Once the child was past being angry, sadness was left, and sad children reach out for comfort.

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