Thursday, August 9, 2018

What to do about anger overload in children

I discovered your blogsite searching anger overload. My daughter is 7 years old.  She has been diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety.  She has outbursts in school and at home.  Her outbursts can range from screaming and defiance to physical aggression.  After she “blows up” she feels better and can always tell me how she should have handled herself.  She is usually remorseful after she has hurt someone and apologetic.  She has told me that she can’t control her anger.  She is a bright young girl and such a sweet child until she gets angry.  We have been to several therapists, a psychiatrist, and a pediatrician.  Nobody can seem to help.  They just want to keep pushing meds.  Is Anger Overload a real thing?  Is there anything that can help her?  She has so much potential.  This cannot be her life.  There has to be something out there to help this child.  Any information would be helpful.

Hi, I coined the term "anger overload" to describe the intense outbursts that some children have to frustration.  The diagnostic manual that mental health professionals use does not have a diagnosis for frequent angry outbursts, but I have been seeing children and teens for 30 years, and this can be a problem independent of other issues.  

I have written manuals for parents and children about how to reduce the frequency of these outbursts.  Other blog posts also describe some of the approaches:  monitoring when the outbursts happen and looking for themes, altering the routine that precipitates an outburst when possible, lowering a child's expectations to lessen disappointment, using emotional distraction because anger diminishes if you can get a child to giggle or smile, using labels and mantras to help a child anticipate frustration and head off an outburst.  These are some of the techniques I discuss in my manuals for parents and children.  The children's manual is best if a child is 8 or older.  My manuals are available from Amazon and other online book sellers.  

Best, Dr. Dave Gottlieb

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