Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Temper Tantrums: A Case Study

Date: Tuesday July 22, 2008
Time: 4:45pm

Setting: Subject and mother have just pulled into their driveway after a pleasurable car ride home from school complete with a goldfish snack and train movie. Subject was happily chattering away about trains and cars when mother opened back door to release him from the confines of his car seat.

Tantrum Onset: Without any provocation, subject begins crying while babbling an endless stream of unintelligible nonsense. Mother puts subject down on ground while she retrieves her belongings from the front seat. Fit-taking continues as child beats futilely at the car doors saying, "Mama car, no Mama car" over and over. When mother tries to take the hand of the subject, he runs off down the hill toward the fence, still screaming about no Mama car. Crazy lunging, barking dog at fence worries mother, so she picks him up and removes him from the area telling him that the puppy doesn't want to play right now. This elicits louder, more high pitched screams from child. Mother carries kicking, squirming, screaming child into house.

Tantrum Peak: Once inside the screams grow louder and more demanding. Child is offered juice that he violently throws to the floor. It is clear that the subject has reached the peak of his tantrum where he can hear nothing but his own screams and will turn down even the thing he most desires just to be able to continue the wailing sequence he's designed. Subject begins tossing toy magnets from the garage door onto the ground in a blind rage. Mother stops the behavior with a strong, "No" and tells him that he needs a time out. Father enters at this point to remove subject from the scene and places him in time out. Subject squalls in timeout for 30 seconds then returns still wailing to the mudroom and attempts to once again throw his letter magnets onto the floor. Father returns son to timeout area. The pattern repeats itself twice at which point father determines that the child needs to be put in his room to calm down.

Tantrum End: Subject is placed in his room where he spends 3 minutes maintaining his tantrum at full throttle. Then, all of the sudden the screams stop, and the parents hear the little twerp say, "All done". He immediately begins babbling about Hudson and Ramone, returns downstairs, picks up the juice that he had earlier flung to the ground, and begins happily playing with his Cars Racetrack. Both parents simply shake their heads and go with the new pleasant demeanor of their child.

Summary: While unable to pinpoint a diagnosis beyond "Terrible Twos" for the subject at this time, the researcher believes that it is clear that dealing daily with their child's behavior is placing the parents on the verge of becoming Certifiably Insane. In fact, it is entirely possible that they may already have reached that point by the time this study is published.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds delightful!

    3 days until your fight to stay sane becomes epic.