As a parent, the one thing that really got my goat was the tantrum that my child threw. Both my boys went through their whining and tantrum phases. At one point, it was so difficult that I had approached a Counselor. As difficult as it seemed, she had advised me to act calm and totally ignore the tantrum and the child when he was indulging in it. Despite my nerves being fried, I did as she told on the street as well as in the supermarket. After a few harrowing attempts, my son realized the futility of it and actually got better!

But, that is not the reason why I am writing this post. I am writing it in a completely different context. What does one do if an adult is in the habit of throwing tantrums? Those who watch Indian serials are used to seeing scheming, weepy, extra-emotional characters who nastily throw tantrums. Do such people exist in real life? They certainly do, as I have observed in some people up close and personal.

We may use the approach of ignoring and blocking out such people from our lives once we figure out their true nature. At least, we can try not to get sucked into their sorry ‘poor victim me’ tales all the time. Here ignoring or not reacting may actually protect our sanity and perhaps convey to them that their regular ‘drama’ of sulking and going incommunicado does not work. But, what does one do if it is a person that one interacts with regularly?

My approach normally is to avoid conflict. I hate being in a state of protracted argument or dissent. Often, I make the effort to set things right, even reaching out to the unreasonable person in order to resolve issues. At other times, I will give them time to think about their own behavior so that once things cool down, they can come back and discuss issues like adults across the table. But this approach doesn’t always work. Given that, as a dear person told me, most people are not reasonable. Hence, some people will just convince themselves that they are the ones who are always the victim and you are the aggressor. They never introspect. They do not want to set things right or wish a resolution. Their philosophy in life is – My way or the Highway.

Earlier I would ignore this behavior because I always try to remember the good that they have done for me. But, of late, I am noticing a change in my approach. I don’t want to be taken for granted anymore. I am tired of trying to be the one who always sets things right. I am actually tiring of being so patient and bending over backwards.

Yesterday, as I read #1000Speak posts, I was glad to read some amazing posts on self-compassion. Selfish is not such a bad word. Indeed, we have been accommodating others for too long at the cost of our own happiness and sanity. I say enough to that. I know I will not be nasty or mean while expressing my dissent. It is just not in my fabric. However, what is my true nature is straight talk. Perhaps, it is time that I stood up for myself and actually confronted the dramas queens and kings and tell them to their face what I think of their behavior. I guess the time to ignore the tantrums has passed.

 How do you handle adults who regularly throw tantrums and are often unreasonable?

Pic courtesy: Stuart Miles of Freedigitalphotos.net

40 Thoughts on “How to handle tantrums of the adult kind?

  1. Arey yaar!! Naam-dhaam nahin bataoge toh kaisa?!!! 😀

  2. I know… There are times some people get too unnecessary emotional.. I have had to deal with a few! Maybe coz I always tried to help people out, I always keep having to hear so much of whining and crying some of them which were totally for silly stuffs…

    More of the whining and crying I have had to deal with while I was in college.. I was like a counselor for many… I feel so funny now..how silly were those problems!!

  3. Well, it takes all kinds of people to make the world go round and round. Some have to keep providing the drama, otherwise things would get so boring 🙂 But jokes aside, I do understand what you are saying here. At some point we have to walk away or at least stay at a reasonable distance from the perpetual drama-makers, just for our sanity or perhaps to simply un-dramatize our own inner dramas!

  4. Been there…done that….send an email, see

  5. I was like you – patient, comprising and accommodating others. But since last year, I’ve changed. I don’t want to waste myself over such people. This line sums everything – We have been accommodating others for too long at the cost of our own happiness and sanity. And I don’t do it now. I give my own happiness a little more importance.

  6. I never ‘talk back’ when the opposite person shouts. I just keep quiet. After half or one hour, I start explaining my stand. I was doing this with my kids. It worked mostly. With adults, people will feel happy if we don’t give back immediately. Their ego will be in tact! Start talking/explaining after sometime. They will definitely heed.

    • I did all that, Sandhya. But you know what, some people will just be on a moral high horse especially elders. They will not give you an opportunity to talk. They may heed sometimes but their attitude is often that of being a perpetual victim. And after a point, it gets on to you.

  7. This post resonates with me so much. I have dealt with some serious adult drama in the last week. I think as we grow up, our tolerance for drama reduces significantly and our coping mechanisms change too. In the past, I used to get aggravated easily and confronted the person in question. Now, I don’t get aggravated as much, it is easier to let things slide and most importantly, I have given up on confrontations. They achieve nothing. But whenever I anticipate a drama download, I run. Yes, physically distance myself from the situation. Not the bravest thing to do, but it helps me keep my sanity. If possible, I avoid association with the said person in future. But, it is not always possible with friends and family. In that case, I distance myself mentally from the person and the situation. In the end, we only have control over our actions and our responses.

    • I find that distancing mentally a little tough though I keep telling myself regularly to breathe and put the thoughts behind. I guess we all have to figure out our coping mechanisms for people who are close to us and big on drama.

  8. The real problem arises in dealing with such people who are not dispensable as online or other friends in real world. Ignoring them is difficult.There can be no general solution.Lot of tact and patience is needed.

  9. I suppose such people exist both in the online and offline worlds. In the online world, it’s perhaps a little easier to deal with because you could ignore them and walk away – and a couple of times later, they’ll get it.
    If the person is actually physically present in your life – friend, family, neighbour, etc – it becomes a bit more difficult. It’s one thing to lend a shoulder to cry on occasionally. Completely different when it happens every other day.

    Having said all of that, I still struggle not to remain civil or helpful towards such people. I guess i need to practice more ‘detachment’ 🙂

    • Oh, it is excruciating when it is a person in your real life who you cannot really break off from. I have suffered from one such relative for far too long. And, of late, it has been driving me nuts. I am really trying to figure out what is the best approach here.

  10. Sunila on April 23, 2015 at 10:57 am said:

    I so agree. But what if it were ur own parents who were these drama queens? I’m tired and drained of handling those.

    • Tell me about it, Sunila. Those are the most difficult to handle. My post is actually about the ones closest to us who regularly traumatize us with their temper tantrums and one cannot really distance oneself completely.

  11. Foolish people take revenge, wise people forgive and the intelligent ignore…as much as possible try to go in for the third option but do fail miserably many a time!

  12. Oh God Rachna I know atleast two such people with whom I have to interact even though I wish to God I didn’t have to! I usually end up eating S’ head when such things happen or I give it back directly…But it wrecks havoc on my piece of mind!

  13. We have a drama king as a close friend. IGNORE is the operative word with him. It’s tough to deal with such people on regular basis. They drain so much of your energies on useless things! I really empathize with his wife.

    • Yes, I also empathize withe these people’s spouses and family. God help them. You are absolutely right — they drain the life out of you. Phew.

  14. People often throw tantrums to attract attention. It is habitual and is done without thinking. Kids often feign to have fallen down and got hurt to attract attention. Hug them once and then they move on. Later on in life they often don’t do it. However, there are people with deep rooted inferiority complex and they can’t handle not being the cynosure of all eyes. So they often thrown tantrums, cry at some pretext etc. If you are not close to them, then it may be easy to ignore and move on. They do need to see a counselling.

  15. Couldn’t agree more!
    There comes a time when you get tired of being the reasonable one trying to think from the aggressor’s point of view, and put your foot down. Works sometimes, doesn’t many a times.

  16. You’re right Rachna. The best thing to do is to keep them out of your life. I read a story where an eminent and wise scholar’s young adult son had his father’s best friend killed out of sheer jealousy. Imagine, if wise and popular people cannot control this, how can common folk?

    I had been in a relationship with someone who kept throwing tantrums to get her way all the time. If there was 1 thing worth learning from that harrowing period, it was that nothing is more important than your self-esteem…

    • Thank you for sharing your experience, Vishal. Indeed what I absolutely loathe is dramebaazi in people. Just don’t have the stomach to deal with it. My experience sadly also is that women do this much more. I am surrounded by some close friends/relatives who excel at this. I have been putting up with their unreasonable behavior because breaking ties is not an option. These days, I am maintaining a distance from them physically and mentally. I also will tell this particular person in so many words when I meet them next.

      Nothing is more important than your self esteem. So well said! My dad had said the exact same thing to me in another context.

  17. As luck would have it, I have to deal with a lot of such people. If some can see reason and sense I try reasoning out with them. But most are unreasonable as you say. If it’s someone I know I let them know what I feel and try pointing out what they fail to see. If it’s someone I dont know, I just let them know how I feel and stop it at that. There is sometimes no point talking on and on when you know people wont see sense. But I make sure I express my point of view.

  18. Remember Chanakya said that ‘straight grass is the first to be cut’ so one needs to measure up situation to react:)Good writing like always but of late have missed a lot due piles of work!

  19. I have a close relative who’s extremely moody and mostly I am quite a wit’s end to deal with sudden mood swings. Finally decided to not spare much thought..and am still trying to get to that complete ‘dont care ‘ state. Great post !

Do not leave without commenting. I love a good conversation :).

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