How ADHD Children Can Control Emotions

When children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) practice controlling their emotions and impulsive outbursts, they will be healthier and happier at school and home.

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Control Emotions at School

Encourage the child to forgive himself for mistakes. Emotional upset is caused less by specific situations or events and more by what we tell ourselves about that situation. Say to the child, “It looks like you’re telling yourself that leaving your homework at home is a disaster. Maybe you could tell yourself, ‘Oops -- forgot that homework assignment. What can I do to remember to bring it tomorrow?’”

Create a 5-point scale to help the child gauge how upset she is. Help her make a coping strategy for each step on the scale. For a child who has meltdowns when there’s an unexpected change in schedule, the scale might look like this:
1. This doesn’t bother me at all.
2. I can talk myself down.
3. I can feel my heart speeding up a little...I’ll take 10 deep breaths to relax.
4. OK, this is getting to me, I probably need to “take 5” to regroup.
5. I’m about to melt down, so I need to leave the class for a few minutes.

Write a story. Create a one-paragraph “social story” that addresses a child’s problem situation -- getting in trouble on the playground, the disappointment that comes with earning a bad grade, nervousness when the student has to perform in front of a group -- and ends happily with a coping strategy.

Give praise. Notice when a child shows good emotional control. You could say, “I saw how angry you were, but you kept your cool. Nice job.”

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