Adult Temper Tantrums

All of us have at one point come across kids throwing tantrums when they do not get what they want. Your child would be no different, especially if you have forbidden them from doing something. But what’s surprising is that this behavior is no different with adults. We are supposed to be, well, adults, but we can act exactly like children in certain situations. Fact is, there is no age for people to throw tantrums and generally speaking, most people throw tantrums when they do not get what they want.

How to Deal With Adult Temper Tantrums

Dealing with kids throwing tantrums is easier than dealing with adults. So what do you do? Here are a few ways that can help you deal with those tantrums in adults.

1. Know the Trigger and Prevent It

All of us have triggers that lead to tantrums. So once you make an effort into knowing what the trigger is, you can completely get avoid a full blown tantrum. For children, these may be something as simple as early bed time or eating broccoli during lunch. For an adult it may be something like asking them to take the garbage out. Keep in mind HALT: hungry, agitated, lonely, and tired. Any one of these emotions is likely to make an adult throw a tantrum.

2. Acknowledge the Angry Feeling

Most people who throw tantrums love attention; they are loud because they want to be heard. The more attention they seek, the louder they will be. This is why a small sentence, like “I understand”, can easily calm the other person down. Keep in mind that understanding does not mean agreeing with the situation. You also should let them know that you are also hurt with their tantrums and that you could help them deal with the situation better.

3. Be Composed

To deal with adult temper tantrums, you should yourself be calm and composed or else it can aggravate the situation. You should not sound annoyed, nor should you be sarcastic or act in a superior manner while speaking to the concerned person because they can become more agitated. They will not listen to you and even think that you are putting them down. Be sensible, keep your tone neutral and speak in a positive way. Ensure that he/she is also physically safe.

4. Ask the Causes

Ask them why they are agitated. An explanation is important because adult temper tantrums can be worsened due to poor communication. If they are in no mood to talk right away, tell them that you are there for them and that they can talk to you later and explain whenever they want. You should be patient and wait for them to explain – don’t push them because this will only aggravate them more.

5. If You Are Wrong, Apologize

If the person is upset because of something you did wrong, then do not hesitate to go ahead and apologize. In case you have not done anything wrong, you can still say sorry because the other person’s wellbeing is more important than the question of right or wrong. For those willing to go the extra miles, go ahead and offer a solution to the problem, if at all possible.

6. Work as a Team

Try to avoid using the word "I" and "you" because it can create a division or a barrier between both of you. Instead, use the words "we" or "us" which shows them that you are in the same team, ready to be with them when they want to. This may help cool down the person’s anger.

7. Stick to the Fact without Blame

Stick to the reality of the matter that caused the tantrums. Sticking to the facts may not reduce the tantrum, but it also does not worsen the situation further. Do not use any language while speaking that is filled with strong feelings or tension. This way adult temper tantrums can be handled better. For example, it’s better to say “Yes, it has happened and that cannot be changed. Let’s decide what do to now”, instead of saying, “But you do it all the time too!”

8. Encourage Logical Thinking

It is generally very difficult to make an angry person see sense. But if you can somehow appeal to the rational part of their brains, it may help diffuse the situation easily. This has to be dealt with carefully because you should not make them feel that you are superior to them or you are trying to prove them wrong in anyway. Needless to say, that will only worsen the tantrum and makes thing go the opposite direction of solving problems.

9. Give Suggestions

The adult who has thrown a tantrum is too emotional to think logically. This is why it’s up to you to provide sensible suggestions to solve the problem. Maybe they will dismiss your solution, but give them time to think over what you have said. More often than not they will end up realizing what you’ve said is correct and come back to you later to resolve the issue. For you, to remain cool is important because it’s that very calm nature which will help you get through adult temper tantrums.

10. Other methods

  • One thing you can do is to leave them alone for some time to calm down and drop the topic completely.
  • Otherwise, you can simply ask them what they need in order to feel better. You can suggest changing the environment say going for a walk or going for a movie.
  • Encourage them to sit in a comfortable position and take some deep breaths or do some meditation until they are feeling comfortable and relaxed. 
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