Why is My Child Throwing Tantrums?

by | May 17, 2021 | ABA

Why is My Child Throwing Tantrums? What could be causing your child’s tantrum? (ABC Data)

Tantrums are common for children with autism. Tantrums can come in many different forms such as:

  • refusing or avoiding tasks
  • crying
  • engaging in physical aggression
  • yelling and screaming
  • attention-seeking behaviors

It can sometimes be a struggle to determine what is causing these behaviors in your children.

A common tool that ABA therapists use is ABC data. This type of data can be used by parents, teachers, ABA therapists, or anyone who wants to watch a specific behavior over time. With this tool, you will be able to analyze what is happening within the environment that could be affecting your child’s behavior. 

ABC Data is an acronym for Antecedent, Behavior, and Consequence. You can collect this type of data through an ABC chart to clearly state the antecedent, behavior, and the consequence.

A- Antecedent. This is what happens directly BEFORE the tantrum or behavior. For example, when a child asks for candy before dinner and you as the parent respond with “no” and the child engages in a tantrum, the antecedent would be being told “no” and being denied access to the candy.

B- Behavior. This would be the behavior the child engages in, such as crying.

C- Consequence. This is what happens directly after the tantrum occurs. For example, if you as the parent provide a cookie or preferred item to the child to get them to stop the behavior, the consequence would be giving the child a cookie.

After collecting the data for several days and occasions, it can help you determine what is the root cause of your child’s behavior. Keep in mind that this tool is best done through direct observations so that important details are not missed. It is also important to understand that frustration throughout the process is normal and it is never too late to help stop or change the behavior of the child. 


Teeonna Coldcleugh, M.S. BCBA-LBA