Why People Throw Temper Tantrums and How to Handle Them without Unwanted Repercussions

September 19th, 2023

Have you ever had someone throw a temper tantrum in your presence – and I’m not talking about a child here, but a full grown adult?

You know, when things didn’t go their way or they didn’t get what they wanted from a situation, they unleashed an aggressive outburst aimed directly at you?

If so, how did you handle yourself?

How did you respond to the situation?

Did you tremble in their midst, cave under the pressure their outburst created, and ultimately back down and submit to their “demands” or “wishes”?

Well, let me ask you this:

Why do people throw temper tantrums?

And what do they hope to accomplish?

I mean, doesn’t it make them look rather childish and immature?

So why would they risk damaging their reputations and losing face by acting in a way that makes them look bad or even foolish?

If you explore these questions, won’t you come to the conclusion that the reason people throw temper tantrums is because they hope to prey upon peoples’ need for approval and acceptance?

Through their hissy fit, isn’t it really a form of withdrawing their approval or good—will toward their “victim,” hoping it will make that person desire to get it back?

And how can they do that, other than to do exactly what the person throwing the temper tantrum wants them to do?

If you look at this true motive closely, isn’t throwing temper tantrums actually a form of manipulation?

Isn’t it a way of victimizing someone and taking advantage of them all for selfish gain?

So what’s the best way to deal with someone who throws a temper tantrum at us, maybe causing us to fret over loss of approval and arousing our desire to gain back their acceptance?

How do we communicate to such people that manipulation and perhaps even intimidation is unacceptable behavior and we refuse to tolerate it?

First of all, don’t temper tantrums only work on us if we fear losing peoples’ approval and acceptance?

If we don’t care whether or not we get or keep someone’s approval, won’t their attempts to withdraw it from us have little to no affect on us?

Doesn’t manipulation always or almost always seek to exploit some weakness?

And if that weakness doesn’t exist, how can the manipulation work or prove to be fruitful to the person who employs it?

It can’t, can it?

Thus, the first step to guarding yourself from falling victim to peoples’ temper tantrums is to cultivate the attitude that you don’t need anyone’s approval or acceptance.

Perhaps for some this is no small feat. But it can be accomplished.

After all, what do you have to lose if someone withdraws their approval and acceptance of you?

Are you afraid of losing their love?

If you are, is it really love in the first place?

Are people expressing love when they try to take advantage of other peoples’ weaknesses to further their own aims and purposes?

I would argue not.

So how can we lose love if we’re not even being shown it to begin with?

Furthermore, do we respect people who let others push them around or back down in the face of confrontation, especially when they’re not the one drawing “first blood”?

Don’t we actually gain more admiration and respect for people who stand up for themselves and refuse to let others have their way with them?

But if we cower in fear when someone throws a temper tantrum at us and bend to their wishes, even though they may get what they want, don’t they actually end up loving and respecting us less?

It almost seems ironic, doesn’t it...

People who throw temper tantrums attempt to take away their love for us to get their way, and if we give them their way to gain their love, they actually end up respecting and maybe even loving us less.

Isn’t this something to think about if you fear losing love, respect or approval when confronted by a temper tantrum?

Aren’t these facts reason enough to resolve to stop caring about getting or getting back someone’s approval?

Second, what do you do next?

When you no longer care about losing approval or love, or regaining it in the face of the chance of losing it, what are the practical things you can do when confronted by someone’s hissy fit?

How do we deal with it in the moment?

The first step is to remain calm and poised. And if you’ve already resolved to be indifferent to gaining or losing peoples’ approval, this comes naturally.

After all, when someone throws a temper tantrum, isn’t it their mission to make you feel uncomfortable with the situation they’re creating?

Don’t they want you to feel like you lack control over what’s happening?

But when you fail to act the way they anticipated – by cowering in fear and apprehension – they realize that they don’t have control over the situation; their tactic isn’t producing the results they wanted and have maybe even come to expect.

Then all you have to say – in a calm and collected way – is this:

“Uh oh – I think somebody’s annoyed/angry/pissed. Look out.”

This communicates several important things:

First, it demonstrates that their attempt to destabilize you and cause you to lose control of your emotions didn’t work.

Second, it demonstrates that you don’t care about whether or not you are approved of and accepted by them – which is a very attractive quality to foster and have, by the way.

And third, it leaves them at a loss over what to do next.

They’ve just made a fool of themselves, gained nothing by it, and have nothing to show for their efforts; they’ve failed to manipulate you.

It’s marvelous!

Also, this works even better when it’s in a group setting. Instead of speaking to the person throwing the temper tantrum at you, you talk about them to somebody else so that they can clearly hear it.

You could simply turn away from them, address somebody else, and say:

“Uh oh – I think s/he’s annoyed/angry/pissed. Look out.”

In this manner, you practically cut the manipulator out of the interaction altogether, which will cause them to be at an even greater loss over what to do.

Doing this will not only win you the respect of the people watching the scene unfold, ironically, it will also actually win you more respect from the person who threw the temper tantrum.

When they realize they can’t get their way with you, it shows them you possess strength – and who doesn’t admire that?

So remember:

If you encounter someone throwing a temper tantrum at you, remain calm, and say:

“Uh oh – I think somebody’s pissed. Look out.”

Disclaimer: If you’re dealing with someone in a relationship who’s prone to violence if you stand up to them, please disregard my suggestions and seek professional help.


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