Published on ADDitudeMag.com
Top 10 Anger Management Tips for Your Child
Anger leads the list of emotions that can get ADHD kids in trouble. Here’s Dr. Ned Hallowell on how to manage it.
by Dr. Ned Hallowell
The Trouble with Anger
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 managing anger.
Exercise Away Hostility
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 that
exercise is helpful in promoting healthy brain function, including the ability
to control aggression.
Learn to Put Feelings into Words
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
Not only does staring at a
screen all day numb the mind, it also precludes more useful exercise and
face-to-face social interactions. 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.
Practice Compromise and Negotiation
In his excellent book, The Explosive
Child, Ross W. Greene, Ph.D., introduced a method he calls collaborative
problem solving. Read the book, and learn the technique. It works wonders. It
is based on negotiation, not giving orders or commands.
Check Any Underlying Problems
including ADHD, conduct disorder, seizure disorders, thyroid dysfunction, or
brain tumors, can manifest themselves as uncontrollable 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
Skip Physical Punishment
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
knowing that their parents are in charge.
If none of these
suggestions helps, talk to people you trust or find a support group of ADHD
host many support groups.
Almost every child who has anger challenges can learn to control
them. It may take some time and some backing and filling, but solutions can be
found. Never worry alone.
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