Acting Out (Encyclopedia of Children's Health)
Acting out is defined as the release of out-of-control aggressive or sexual impulses in order to gain relief from tension or anxiety. Such impulses often result in antisocial or delinquent behaviors. The term is also sometimes used in regard to a psychotherapeutic release of repressed feelings, as occurs in psychodrama.
Infants and toddlers
The earliest acting out behaviors are often referred to as temper tantrums. These behaviors are usually first observed in infants between the ages of 12 and 18 months of age. At that point, temper tantrums can be considered a normal part of growth and development. These early tantrums are simply an infant's attempt to communicate feelings of dissatisfaction or extreme disappointment. Observed behaviors in infants trying to express their anger or frustration usually include patently angry-sounding crying, kicking hands and feet, and possibly even trying to strike out. For toddlers, such violent outbursts of temper often include hitting, kicking, and biting others; and possibly self-injurious behaviors such as head-banging. The child's reaction to the supposed cause of the tantrum is often markedly disproportionate...
(The entire section is 2503 words.)
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