Our children with ADHD find life really tricky and too often family life is peppered with screaming, shouting and door slamming.
I know. I’ve been there.
WHY DOES YOUR CHILD GET SO ANGRY?
Why does your children explode with anger over a seemingly little thing?
First of all, let’s look at how your child’s brain functions in a unique way….
An ADHD brain is neurologically wired differently. The neurons are not consistently firing in order for messages to go through and for sensory experiences to filter out. The brain has been described as popcorn popping and exploding randomly. So your child misses things. How frustrating must that be?
Your child may have one or more of the main features of ADHD; impulsivity, inattentiveness and hyperactivity.
But did you know an ADHD brain also struggles with the executive functions of just getting things done? So your child may have poor initiation of getting down to a task and starting it. There may be difficulties with organisation and time management. Your child may find transitioning between tasks and environments tricky and may also struggle with social situations. On top of that they may be sensory seeking or have a sensory sensitivity.
Plus……….Your child will have huge difficulties with emotional regulation.
It’s quite a list isn’t it?
This has an impact of your child feeling like they’ve let themselves down or maybe their friends and family. They may feel embarrassed. They have a strong sense of justice and may feel this is unfair. They may feel angry and frustrated.
No wonder your child may find life hard both at home and at school.
With their brain so full and unable to filter, you child may have trouble with focussing and concentration. They may be easily distracted and not finish work. They may be daydreaming and miss what the teacher is saying. They will often be doing the wrong thing at the wrong time and be blamed and shamed by the adults in the school. Whether in class, in assembly or on the playground.
It is estimated that by the time they get to 12 , children with ADHD receive 20,000 more negative messages than a child without ADHD. Isn’t that sad?
How do you think that impacts on a child’s emotional well-being.
No wonder your child may feel angry and cross and annoyed. Then like a shaken coke bottle, all that hurt and tension explodes when the lid is released and they come home.
Home is your child’s safe place. The space where they can let out all those bottled emotions. 6 hours a day of being told off. Or 6 hours a day of holding in their emotions. Then kapow! The explosion is dynamite.
And it might not take much.
At home there are expectations. To do homework, to help around the house, to sit quietly at the table, to come to the shops, to go to bed when you say.
If you do not put things in place to help your child to do these things, then there will be fireworks.
There may be comparisons with siblings. There may be shouting and repeating an instructions. There may be punishments and the XBox banned for a week.
The result? More screaming and shouting.
Your child will not change their behaviour through fear of the punishments. It may work briefly in the short term but will not change the underlying ADHD brain way of thinking and behaving.
SO WHAT DO YOU DO?
As much as possible work as a team with the school. Let them know the things that work, and the things that don’t work. Have regular meetings with the class teacher.
Find out from the teacher:
- what ‘reasonable adjustments’ are being put in place
- what are they doing to support social needs
- are they promoting your child’s talents and successes
Your child needs help and support to handle their emotions:
- have realistic expectations about what your child should be doing
- listen and come to a compromise
- make a plan or routine and stick to it
- make time to talk every day during walking or in the car
- listen to any concerns and take them seriously
- teach your child to recognise physical signs when things are starting to get too much – sweaty palms, heart racing, face flushed
- use Zones of Regulation and start to use the language ” I am feeling like I am going in the red zone”
- teach your child about every emotion – all emotions are okay but sometimes emotions get too big. It’s okay to feel sad, jealous, guilty.
- have a plan in place when emotions get too big – do you need a special word or signal to say you need time apart (not a punishment). Use a timer (agreed time) and then afterwards come back and ask your child for their ideas to solve the problem
- does your child need a space to calm down or does your child need to run off the aggression
- be a good role model and show your child what you do when emotions get too big
- your reaction will determine if your child’s anger is heightened or if their anger will dissipate. Be the thermostat and turn the heat down – rather than the thermometer which raises the temperature!
So your child has an awful lot to contend with. Life is really tricky. And sometimes this spills over into anger.
But you are a warrior parent and with your help and support, your child will learn to handle these big whoppers of emotions.
AND THE ANGRY DRAGON………….
We’re all loving the Waitrose and John Lewis Christmas advert ‘Excitable Edgar’. The little dragon can’t help the fact that he blows fire – that’s what dragons do! The villagers reaction is to be cross, disappointed and to hide from Edgar. Poor Edgar….He evens tries to muzzle himself so he no longer can be what he is meant to be. Not good.
Just imagine if Edgar had got reeeeeeeeally angry and launched a fire ball at the village…..
It takes one kind-hearted little girl Ava to use his talents and put them to good use. Now Edgar feels accepted and his chest puffs with pride.
Recognise this scenario?
Our children, like Edgar, may do things differently, they may try to fit in and be something they’re not. But in the end, it takes kindness and understanding and a celebration of talents for him to shine and smile. Let’s be like Ava