ADHD and Anger
The outbursts, the tantrums, the eruptions … day in and day out. It is so stressful. Is it ODD? What is it? Should I be concerned?
The answer to the “should I be concerned question” is both yes and no. Yes, because any child needs to be taught how to handle situations and frustrations with a healthy response. No, because if you look at the problem through the lens of ADHD, it is another symptom of the disorder.
Believe me, I often stress over the angry outbursts and tantrums. They raise my stress level and there are days that they make me exhausted beyond belief. I have found, however, that a shift in my mental framework towards the angry outbursts help. Let me explain.
I thoroughly believe at this point that ADHD is a neurological disorder that impacts the executive functioning within the frontal lobe of the brain. I have written on numerous occasions that this can manifest itself in many different ways. Most associated with ADHD is either hyperactivity or inattention. Both are forms of behavior regulation. Hyperactivity is the inability to control or limit one’s activity and inattention is the inability to maintain attention when there is no interest in an activity or the activity is too challenging (i.e. too frustrating).
So why have I consistently put anger in a different category?
I have even done research into ODD, being concerned that his anger is an indication of ODD. (About 1/3rd of kids with ADHD do develop some form of ODD) Well, duh, it dawned on me that really anger or lack of handling anger is just another form of regulation. It is emotional regulation versus behavioral regulation but it is really just another form of regulation.
So I have another one of those enlightened moments that seems so stupid after the fact. Gee why did I not realize that anger is just another regulation/management issue that is so challenging for someone with ADHD?
I have noticed that when our son spends more time watching TV or playing video games that he seems to be an angrier child. Exercise is important for any child but can be the difference between a reasonable child and a tantrum child for someone with ADHD. I even say to my son, “Wow, you have watched too much TV/played too many video games – you are angry boy. “ This helps him to identify what is going on and helps him to stop and think.
We still need to teach our son how to handle situations that make him upset or frustrated. It helps me, though, to think of it as a situation that needs to be managed (exercise and fresh air) and taught and not as a discipline problem.
I hope this approach helps you too.
Until next time …. Take care.