Monday, March 14, 2016

Will 10 yr old become a "functional adult"?

My 10 year old has been having "fits" since he was a baby. He would get angry and spend 45 minutes to an hour just screaming, crying and throwing things. Kindergarten - 3rd grade was awful. I would be called into his school 2 to 3 times a week. I worked with guidance counselors, behavioral therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, and nothing seemed to work. He was labeled as ADHD but the medications didn't help at all. I never thought he was ADHD but trying everything else I figured, why not? 

He is very bright and has been tested for gifted but misses it by a fraction. Every year his teachers say that he is the smartest kid in the class and they do not understand why he reacts to situations the way he does. If something does not go his way, something or anything can set him off. He never want to hurt anyone but will beat his head on the floor or throw a chair, or just scream and cry and hide in the bathroom. Now in 4th grade his "fits" have been better but still he gets so upset. I am worried for his future. Can he function like this as a teenager or an adult? He can be so sweet but turn so quickly. I am just worried no matter what I do he is going to end up with severe issues later, due to his anger. What steps can I take to help him become functional adult?

Hi, read through my blog posts over the last three years, and you will see your son is not alone, and you will see some ways you can work with him.  My parents' manuals are available on Amazon.  Also, in the next six weeks, I will be publishing a child and adolescent workbook on anger overload.  It follows the basic structure of the parents' manuals, and gives many concrete worksheets you can do together with your child.

Most children learn how to control their anger through practice and experience.  It doesn't happen over night, but if your child recognizes anger overload is an issue for him, then you can work him him on various strategies.  Some of the strategies that I outline in the parents' manuals you can implement without your child's direct participation.  The more advanced strategies you work on together.  

There are several overriding principles.  One is building a good working alliance with your child to help him take charge of his anger.  The second principle is to try to catch your child's frustration early (if possible).  The third principle is to develop different strategies depending on the level of your child's anger.  Some strategies require calm thinking, and that can't happen in the midst of an outburst.  

As your child feels some success, he will be encouraged to work some more on other strategies.  Having a "toolbox" of strategies is ideal, so that a child can use a different strategy depending on the situation.  

Best, Dr. Dave Gottlieb 

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