Mind & Brain See Inside Tempering Toddler Tantrums Now May Prevent Aggression Later Emotional outbursts afflict virtually all toddlers. Some children, however, are prone to more violent fits that could—if left unchecked—pave a path toward persistent aggression By Stefanie Reinberger jupiterimages Three-year-old Merle throws a tantrum in the supermarket whenever her mother refuses to buy something she wants. Little Anna screams wildly when her mother interrupts her playing to put on a jacket so the family can go out. Ben, an adorable towhead, barely two, bites into furniture and toys as soon as anyone drops the word “no.” Merle, Anna and Ben are in the tantrum phase—sometimes referred to as “the terrible twos”—and they dispense frustration and anger to everyone around them. (All of the names of the children mentioned in this article have been changed to protect their privacy.) Reasoning is useless; threats and punishment fail to stem the bawling, agitation and aggression. And then, just as suddenly as it begins, it is over: the child is cuddling up to Mommy or Daddy for comfort. Small wonder that so many parents feel powerless to control these mini crises. This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now! Select an option below: Buy Digital Issue Customer Sign In *You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on nature.com. Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access. ADVERTISEMENT Scientific American is a trademark of Scientific American, Inc., used with permission © 2013 Scientific American, a Division of Nature America, Inc. All Rights Reserved.