Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Will children outgrow anger overload?

So I have been reading your blog and plan on reading your books soon.  It sounds like my 6 year old could be any one of the kids mentioned in the blog.  I was wondering what the over all outlook for these kids are?  Do they ever "grow out of this"?  What can I expect when my child is a young adult in college or at 25?

Hi, You ask a good question.  I can't tell you exactly what will happen for any individual child, but overall studies, looking at groups of children, show that there are significant changes when children learn cognitive behavioral strategies, like those I present in my anger overload manuals.  The studies compared using these strategies with groups that did not receive therapeutic intervention, and the studies found that the group of children taught to use the strategies handled their anger better.  

What hasn't been studied yet is seeing what happens to these children over many years, in other words, a longitudinal study.  Do the children maintain their gains over a long time period, and what percentage are still having anger overload many years later?  We do know that the brain keeps maturing throughout childhood and early adulthood, and we do know that practice using these strategies is beneficial over the short term for most children, so we believe that most children will continue to improve as they get older.  

Questions still to be answered by future research:  Some adults have anger management issues.  Did these adults receive help as children?  Is there something about their biological or emotional development that interfered with their learning better self control?  We know that adults with anger problems do have subtle differences in parts of their brain.  But we don't know how this happened. Were there other life events that impacted them in a negative way?  For example, we know that if there are serious mood problems or drinking problems, there often are anger problems as well.  But more research still needs to be done.

Hope this brief overview is helpful, Dr. Dave Gottlieb


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