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Dr. Paige
Dr. Paige, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1427
Experience:  Psychologist; Parent
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15 mo old grandson. We visited him, his mother and 27 mo old

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15 mo old grandson. We visited him, his mother and 27 mo old sister. Shortly after we arrive the boy threw a "normal" temper tantrum. He resisted all efforts to calm him so we ignored him and soon he was quiet, on hands and knees, face on the floor. I went to him and gradually got him to get up and come into my arms. All pretty normal.

15 minutes later he started again, no obvious reason, but this was totally different. He was more vocal and louder and very agressive toward all of us. He charged into each of us, repeatedly, one after another, full speed, hitting, pushing, grabbing, pulling hair, ripped my glasses off, screaming, crying and yelling all the while. The word that comes to mind is Berserker. I have never seen any thing like it. After 10 minutes or so, he quit, settled down, and behaved normally.

My wife is a physician and a psychiatrist, ( not child). She, nor the rest of us got a clue that he was in physical pain. He just seemed furiously angry, in the extreme. Anger directed at each of us, any of us, all of us.

Do you have any experience with this sort of thing?
Hello. At this age, temper tantrums are considered normal. The most important factor as to if they will continue, is how it is handled by his parents or grandparents. it most likely is not physical pain. Children at this age are learning cause and effect and most likely is to see how adults will react. Was there something that he wanted? Attention? An object? It is important to try to identify any tantrum causing triggers and try to avoid them in the first place. Although there may not be an "apparent" reason, there most likely will be some sign he will give that one is coming. As long as the adult(s) involved remain calm and do not give in to any demands by the child, this should just be a phase.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Dr. Page,


Thanks for your response. However, I tried to make it clear that we had just seen a temper tantrum and this was something else. My description of this behaviour was not exagerated. It was extreme and frightening. His sister would have been in serious danger had we not been there to protect her.


His mother and sister, my wife and I were the only people in the room. The situation was calm and loving with attention focused on the children.


I think a temper tantrum is typically characterized as a rejection behavior. That is, the child refuses to interact, pulls away from you when you try to calm or comfort. This was opposite, he was trying, as hard as he could, in any way he could, to hurt any and all of us. He continued until he was too tired to continue.


I am 70, my wife is 46, mother of two, I parented them from infant/toddler stage, neither of us had ever seen anything like this.


He is usually very glad to see me in particular, He comes running, arms up and is content to sit quietly in my lap. Both children and just gotten up from naps so he had just had a bottle and was not hungry. They were in a room with toys, no strangers, plenty of attention available. No sibling quarreling. This event seemed to erupt out of nothing and lasted much longer than the previous tantrum.


Please, we know tantrums, this was much more. I checked with his day care and they had not seen this from him or other children. My wife aggrees that "Berserker" is an appropriate term to characterize the behaviour. Please think beyond tantrum.


Thank you,



Was this the first and only time you have seen this? How has his behavior been since then? Was there anything out of the ordinary that happened recently, for example, did he have any vaccines in close proximity to the event, change with any type of food, etc. ?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
We have seen tantrums, perhaps 2 or 3, but never this before. No meds or vacines recently, no illnesses, except diaper rash. Frankly, his parents do not do a very good job, they are too young to be parents. ( My wife and I pay to have them in a very good day care so they get good care at least part of the day.) There are some disruptions between his parents but this is repeated and on-going, nothing new. I had visited with the boy, twice last week at the day care. He always complains when I leave. Finally, after the original tantrum he seemed to be quite normal for 10-15 minutes until this episode started. After it was over he seemed normal again. His mother reports no further episodes since then.
This definitely needs to be kept up on. I am wondering if the "disruptions" between his parents may be beginning to effect him. Even at this young of an age, tension and bad energy can be felt by children and let go at inappropriate times. There are some medical reasons for this type of behavior which is why I said to watch for continued episodes. How are his other motor skills and other learning developments? Violence CAN be an early sign of autism. Not to alarm you, just making you aware that this is one symptom of that in children where it regularly occurs. You seem to be a wonderful grandparent and both children are lucky to have you in their lives to make up for what their parents may be lacking in experience. His parents need to realize how subtle things can effect children at this age, even when it seems like he is too young. it seems as if you are doing everything you can for him and I wish I could be more of a help, but so far it has only happened one time and even though it was a vague statement of, "his parents not doing a very good job", that may very well be the cause..
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