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Title: Temper Tantrums in Young Children: Relations with Child Temperament, Child Problem Behavior and Parenting
Authors: Van Leeuwen, Karla
Bourgonjon, Lien
Huijsman, Libby
Van Meenen, Marissa
De Pauw, Sarah #
Issue Date: 2009
Conference: SRCD BIENNIAL MEETING location:Denver date:2-4 April 2009
Abstract: Introduction. From a developmental point of view, temper tantrums are a normal phenomenon in children between the ages of 18 months and 4 years. From a clinical point of view however, they are among the most common childhood behavioral problem reported by parents. However, little empirical research has been conducted on this topic. This study investigates (a) the prevalence of temper tantrums in a sample of non-referred Flemish children, (b) the relation of temper tantrums with temperament, problem behavior and parental behavior.
Method. Information was gathered on 741 Flemish children from the normal population (44.7% girls and 55.3% boys), between 13 and 67 months (M = 29.34 months, SD = 10.76) on three measurement points (six months interval). Parents completed: a questionnaire assessing prevalence, behavioral components (Active and Fysiological behaviors), immediate causes and parental management of temper tantrums (Van Leeuwen, Bourgonjon, Huijsman, & Van Meenen), the EAS Temperament Survey (Buss & Plomin), the Child Behavior Checklist/1½-5 (Achenbach & Rescorla, 2000), and the Ghent Parental Behavior Scale (Van Leeuwen & Vermulst, 2004), which assesses more general parental behavior (setting rules, different forms of discipline, positive parental behavior).
Results. On average, parents reported that temper tantrums in their child occurred 1 to 6 times a week. The average length of a tantrum was two to four minutes. MANCOVA’s with age, gender, and age by gender showed only a significant effect of age (F(4,671) = 33.73 at Time 1; F(4,301) = 40.04, p ≤ .001 at Time 2) on the frequency, length and behavioral components of tantrums.
Multivariate multiple regression analyses were conducted to investigate the relationship of the EAS temperament variables, maternal and paternal general parental behavior and with frequency, length and behavioral components of tantrums. Post hoc analyses showed that a higher score on Emotionality at Time 1 predicted more frequent tantrums at Time 2. There was a significant effect of negative parental behavior during tantrums: in the mother model more negative coping behavior was related to more and longer tantrums and more active behavior during tantrums at both Time 1 and Time 2, but not in the longitudinal analyses. No consistent effects were found for the more general parenting variables.
In separate regression analyses, tantrum frequency (βEXT = .30, p < .001; βINT = .17, p < .001), tantrum length (βEXT = .16, p < .001; βINT = .18, p < .001), and the number of tantrum provoking situations (βEXT = .19, p < .001; βINT = .21, p < .001) at Time 1 were predictive of externalizing (F change (3,457) = 29.99, p < .001) and internalizing problem behavior (F change (3,457) = 18.19, p < .001) six months later.
Conclusion. Although temper tantrums are a common phenomenon in young children and seem to diminish with age, it can be concluded from this study that there are links between tantrums, other problem behavior and temperament. Our findings also underscore the importance of parental advice in handling temper tantrums of children.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IMa
Appears in Collections:Parenting and Special Education
# (joint) last author

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