Saturday, March 24, 2018

Risk Taking and Anger Overload in 3 yr olds

Dr Gottlieb,

I'm writing to thank you for your research and work regarding this subject. My wife and I have a very sweet and generally well-behaved 3 year old girl, who's been presenting "anger overload" behavior exactly as you describe in this article you authored in November. 

What really then took my breath away was this passage, which again described her almost perfectly:

these children are sometimes risk takers. They enjoy more physical play than their peers and like taking chances in playground games or in the classroom when they feel confident about their abilities. Other children are often in awe of their daring or scared of their seemingly rough demeanor. Perhaps most interesting is that these very same risk takers can be unsure of themselves and avoid engaging in other situations where they lack confidence.

This personality trait "fit" is uncanny! 

I've ordered your books on the subject, and look forward to reading them. We also plan to see a child therapist, as she has become disruptive at school and home when upset.  Do you have any recommendations for therapists?

Hi, you want a therapist who meets with children and with parents.  For younger children, parents are the main change agent.  That is, you will implement the strategies described in my parents' manual that will help your child develop better self control.  That is why meeting with the therapist without your daughter will be important.

For older children and teens, both parents and children can implement changes.  For children 8 years and older, I recommend the Anger Overload Workbook.  Both the workbook and the parents manuals are available online at book sellers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  Also, you may find some of the advice I've given to parents on this blog useful for you and your daughter.

Best, Dr. Dave Gottlieb   

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Moving to a new community triggers anger overload

Good day Dr. Dave.

My family has recently moved out of the country, and this transition seems to have triggered anger overload with my 10 year old son. We think all the changes happening have affected him a lot more than we thought they would (leaving friends, family and pets, new home, new school, new culture, etc.). I’ve been reading about this condition and most of what I’ve read is reflected in my son’s behavior. We are trying to apply all the suggested actions, but are very concerned about his possible actions. He has threatened to run away at night, hurt himself and other unpleasant things to hear. He is violent verbally and physically towards us when having episodes. Is it very hard for him and ourselves in this situation, since there is currently not many people for him/us to reach out to since we’re in this new environment.

In this particular situation, do you think this could fade away once he’s adapted to this environment?

Hi, When a child is making repeated statements about running away or hurting himself, it is usually a sign that he is under significant stress.  An exception is when a child is being manipulative to try to get what he wants.  That does not seem to be the case here.  You mention in your letter the number of changes that have occurred since your move.  I would recommend listening empathically to your son's underlying concerns.  You may want to help him put it into words before or after a tantrum.  The idea is to help him verbalize what has changed and how hard it is for him.  But during a tantrum, try to say as little as possible.

Is there a counselor at school or in the community he can talk with as well?  Sometimes children can voice their concerns  more easily to a neutral person, rather than a family member.  For other children, it is easier to talk to a parent.  Which do you think would be easier for your son?

I would expect his tantrums to lessen, once he adapts more to the new community.  See if you can replicate some of what he liked in the previous community.  Was he into sports or the arts? Did he like hanging out with friends? Can you find avenues to meet these needs in your new community?  

Other suggestions for dealing with angry outbursts can be found in my parent's manuals and children's workbook on anger overload, or in other posts on this blog.

Best, Dr. Dave Gottlieb