Witnessing a temper tantrum oozing from the sticky mouth of a spoiled little whipper-snapper is not only a less than desirable experience, but it also carries enough nerve-bending weight to turn us adults into the Jimmy Hoffa of the local cherry red behind union.

However, a new study finds that maybe we shouldn’t act so crass in our executioner style judgment against a little tyke’s despicable behavior, because those little rage displays may just be signs of more problematic issues to come.

The study, which was based on a survey of nearly 1,500 parents, discovered that 84 percent of preschool aged kids had pitched a hissy fit within the last month, while only nine percent got medieval on a daily basis.

According to lead researcher Lauren Wakschlag of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, daily tantrums are not typical, even in young children, and that means daily outbursts may be symptomatic of deeper, more serious issues.

The study found that it was uncommon for children to throw tantrums out of the clear blue sky, as opposed to when they were frustrated or angry. It also found that relatively few children showed signs of aggression, such as biting or kicking, during a tantrum, and that it was not typical for that type of behavior to last a very long time or difficult for the child to recover from.

Researchers hope that their findings help to reduce over treatment of behavior that is actually typical for children. “There’s been a real danger of preschool children with normal misbehavior being mislabeled and over-treated with medication,” said Wakschlag. “This is why it’s so crucial to have tools that precisely identify when worry is warranted in this age group.”

Wakschlag adds that random temper tantrums could possibly be linked with serious mental health and social problems. Her team is currently conducting that portion of their research now.

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