Children who have long, frequent or aggressive temper tantrums may be at risk for depression or disruptive disorders, according to research published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

depressed child sitting on steps For most parents, tantrums - often the sign of a sick, hungry, or over-stimulated child - are a normal part of development and should be viewed as a teaching opportunity. Healthy children tend to have a shorter and less aggressive tantrums.

But parents of children who hurt themselves or others and who cannot calm themselves without help should seek medical assistance. The research suggests that if the parent is uncomfortable leaving the house out of fear that the child will have a tantrum, that should be a sign to seek help.