Dealing with anger

Managing behaviours

Dealing with anger

This section helps parents, carers and teachers to:

  • Deal with anger day to day
  • Encourage children with ADHD to discuss their feelings
  • Identify warning signs of unwanted behaviour and anger
  • Prevent and avoid common problems.

On this page:

  1. Dealing with outbursts ↓
  2. Coping with anger ↓
  3. Discussing feelings ↓
  4. Expressing feelings ↓
  5. Identifying warning signs ↓
  6. Preventing problems ↓

Dealing with outbursts

Dealing with an angry outburst can prove challenging for parents/carers and teachers of children with ADHD.You can open the tool to help you:

  • Think through how you normally react when the child with ADHD is angry
  • Consider what works, and new approaches.

Outbursts

A coaching tool that looks at how to react when a child with ADHD is angry

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It can be important to look at strategies for dealing with angry outbursts that involve the whole family. No matter how much the family loves the child, having a child with ADHD can put relationships under strain. You can open the tool to help you think about:

  • How the family deals with day-to-day anger with a child with ADHD
  • What you can do to help the family deal with outbursts.

Family outbursts

A coaching tool that looks at how the family deals with day-to-day anger and advice on how to deal with outbursts

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Children with ADHD can find it hard to talk about their feelings, and they may appear emotionally younger than their peers. The mood thermometer can help the child to show you:

  • How they are feeling
  • What is making them feel this way.

Mood thermometer

A tool to help the child show how they are feeling and what makes them feel that way

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Coping with anger

An angry outburst involves many different things:

  • Actions
  • Thoughts
  • Feelings
  • The way we communicate anger to others
  • The effect of anger on others.

You can open the tool to help you think about:

  • The effect the child’s anger has on you
  • What you can do to deal with your own feelings when confronted by the child.

Coping with anger

A coaching tool that helps you consider the effect a child’s anger has and ways to deal with your own feelings

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Discussing feelings

It can be particularly hard for children with ADHD to understand and express their feelings, which in turn can lead to anger and frustration. You can print out this tool to help you:

  • Think about how you encourage a specific child to share their feelings
  • Identify things you can do that may help.

Discussing feelings

A tool to help the child share their feelings and identify things you can do to help

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Expressing feelings

It may help to use simple tools to help a child express their feelings, and encourage them to talk about how they feel. You can use this simple word search tool to:

  • Introduce the subject of feelings
  • Discuss how they feel at the moment, and why.

Wordsearch

A tool to help introduce the subject of feelings

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If the child is not comfortable with doing a word search, there are many picture searches available on the internet, which use pictures instead to show the different feelings. Try searching for images of these charts using terms like 'Children’s feelings'.

It is also important to identify any challenging times in the child’s day, so that you can talk about what may be worrying them in their home and school life.

You can use this simple chart to:

  • Talk with the child about how they feel in different day-to-day situations at school
  • Talk about what makes them happy, sad, or angry during their day at home or school.

When do I feel like this

A tool to help the child to show how they feel in different day-to-day situations at school and what makes them happy, sad or angry

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Identifying warning signs

Helping a child to understand the triggers of challenging behaviour can be the first step to enabling them to manage their feelings and approach situations calmly.

Explain

Help them understand that everyone gets angry at times.

Recognise

Help them to recognise their own early warning signs that they are getting angry, for example:

  • `I get hot’
  • `My heart beats faster’
  • `I breathe faster’.

Think

Help them to act on these early warning signs, for example

  • Talk to you about their feelings
  • Make an effort to take a deep breath or calm down
  • Get some space to get away from the problem and think.

Spotting your own anger warning signs

You can print out this tool to use together with a child to:

  • Help them think and talk about what it feels like when they start to get angry
  • Help them to recognise earlier when they are becoming angry.

Anger warning signs

A coaching tool that helps children discuss what it feels like when they start to get angry and be able to recognise the warning signs

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Preventing problems

Many parents of children with ADHD become very skilled at avoiding situations that they know will present challenges, and calming situations down when unexpected problems occur.

You can use this short tool to:

  • Think about common types of situations that children with ADHD find particularly challenging
  • Identify things you can do to prevent the problem, or reduce its impact.

Avoiding problems

A coaching tool that helps identify situations that children with ADHD find challenging and things that can be done prevent the problems

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References 

Bjornstad G, Montgomery P. Family therapy for attention-deficit disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2005; (2): CD005042.

Coghill D, et al. Child Adol Psychiatry Mental Health 2008; 2(1): 31.

Dosani S. Calm your hyperactive child (2008). Oxford, UK: Infinite Ideas Ltd.

Greenbaum J, Markel G. Helping adolescents with ADHD and learning disabilities (2001). San Francisco, US: Jossey-Bass.

Handelman K. Attention Difference Disorder (2011). New York, US: Morgan James Publishing.

Laver-Bradbury C, et al. Step by step help for children with ADHD (2010).Philadephia, US: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

O’Regan F. How to teach and manage children with ADHD (2010). Nottingham, UK: LDA.

Pfiffner LJ. All about ADHD (2011). London, UK: Scholastic.

Ziegler Dendy CA. Teenagers with ADD and ADHD (2006). Bethesda, US: Woodbine House.

These materials have been produced with practical advice and guidance provided by the expert European ADHD Awareness Taskforce.

Resources