Anger Management for Children with ADHD
Your child needs to express his anger. It is healthy and cathartic. “But the emotion should be like a sneeze: It clears the passageways and is over,” says Dr. Ned Hallowell. Here are his anger-management strategies for kids who feel intensely and sometimes spiral out of control.
Why Anger Management for Children Matters
Of all the emotions that can get a child into trouble, anger leads the list. While sadness or anxiety causes misery, it is anger that leads to trouble — punishment, suspension, expulsion, and a host of other outcomes we don’t wish our children to suffer.
It is important that a child expresses his anger, but the emotion should be like a sneeze: It clears the passageways and is over. A child who cannot get angry is in as much danger as a child who cannot control his anger. Here are my 10 tips for anger management for kids.
Exercise: Anger Management Strategy
One of the best tonics for the brain is physical exercise. My friend and colleague, Dr. John Ratey, showed in his book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (#CommissionsEarned) that exercise is helpful in promoting healthy brain function, including the ability to control agression.
Communicate Feelings: Anger Management Strategy
One of the more common reasons a child loses control is that he is unable to articulate his frustration. Saying, “I’m really angry” can prevent anger from morphing into violence.
Curb the Electronics: Anger Management Strategy
Not only does staring at a screen all day numb the mind, it also precludes more useful exercise and face-to-face social interactions, which can help children with anger management. Some electronic use is fine, even desirable. But too much, more than two hours a day, should be avoided.
Teach that Anger Is a Signal, Not an Outcome
When your child gets angry, he should learn to stop and ask, “Why am I angry?” If he can put that into words, it will be easier to control that feeling. Furthermore, if he is angry because he is being mistreated or is in danger, he can ask for help
Check Any Underlying Problems
Various conditions, including ADHD, conduct disorder, seizure disorders, thyroid dysfunction, or brain tumors, can manifest themselves as uncontrollable anger.
Keep Notes on Anger
If your child has a problem with anger, take a few minutes every day to document what he’s done. After a month, read through the entries. You may see a pattern that will suggest effective interventions.
Skip Physical Punishment: Anger Management Strategy
Families run best if they have a shared agreement: “We never put hands on each other in anger.” The days of spanking should be long gone. It will worsen a child’s anger.
Be the Boss
That does not mean you should run your family as if it were the Marine Corps. But children do better managing anger when they know that their parents are in charge.