Monday, January 28, 2019

11 yr old with anger overload, ADD, and anxiety

Hi Dr. Dave,

I have just read your blog and article at Great Schools. I write to you because I feel identified with the stories you share. My son has been diagnosed to have ADD. He is also is diagnosed by IEP and by his pediatrician to have OCD, anxiety and mild depression.

My kid is having a hard time to at least find one close friend to come over for a play date that makes him feel very lonely, even when I am trying my best to have him busy. I find this situation challenging for me as a mother with not family close by. I have also a 14 year old, and he has good friends, and my 11 years old is always jealous and defiant with him because he cannot get friends like him. I am teaching  my older son to help his bother and be kind and tolerant because of the current issues with him. 

I see your description of overload anger and it pictures my child suffering from that more than anything else. I am a divorced mother. His father used to have this overload anger too very often, throwing things to the floor when you did not do things in his way or was in disagreement. Yelling or getting angry very fast for any minor issue. Sometimes yelling or even slapped one of my boys for minor things. I see my child react the same sometimes by throwing things to the floor or yelling.  

I found your techniques very interesting. I would like you yo please give me the title of all your books to help me out to help my son. He is 11. I wonder if you still work in Chicago. I am willing to maybe set up an appointment with you via phone conference if you are still in practice. 

Unfortunately, the father of my kid doesn’t want to accept that my kid has an ongoing neurological problem. I asked his father to come along to therapists, and he always discusses and affirms to them that my kid doesn’t have any problem at his place and he is well behaved at his home. I always believe he may have had this problems as a kid and he doesn’t admit it or want doctors  know it. However, he doesn’t understand that denying this problem and not accepting participation and leaving my son with no  therapy will leave him growing up unhappy and increase his anxiety and possibly a constant depressive mood. 

Please I would like to know your thoughts! 
Thanks for support with articles to parent like me!!


My books are available at online sites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  My books include Anger Overload:  A Parent's Manual, 
Anger Overload:  Additional Strategies for Teachers and Parents,  
The Anger Overload Workbook for Children and Teens,  
Your Child is Defiant:  Why is Nothing Working?
Why is My Child's ADHD Not Better Yet?   

It would help if all the adults worked together on the strategies I outline in my manuals.  Maybe don't disagree with the Dad about what happens at his house, but still let him know what you are working on at your house.  Maybe then he will consider the strategies too, even though he says that he does not need them.  Also, you could ask his father to let your son know that he supports your plans and wants your son to use the strategies at your house. 

Read the parent's manual first.  Next, the workbook for children and teens is for children 8 and over, and you could read that book with your son and devise strategies together. One of the books is especially written for teachers.  The other books help give advice for ADHD and for defiance.  

Regarding making friends, ask his teacher if there is anyone he spends time with at lunch or recess.  Also, try to find a children's club or group activity that meets regularly in your area.  Sometimes, a friend emerges from these activities.  Also, the school might have a social skills group that meets weekly during school hours. 

I don't do phone consultations, as state licensing laws do no yet permit that in most states.  Keep working with a mental health professional in your area and with the school.  See if you can implement some of the strategies in my books.  Over time, your son can develop better self control.

Best, Dr. Dave Gottlieb

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Grandma worried about 8 year old

Dear Dr. Dave,

I was just reading your blog and so many of them describe my grandson.  I am so worried about him.  He is an 8 year old boy who for the past 3 years has shown outbursts of anger.  It has gotten worse over the past year.  My daughter is taking him to a psychologist for the past few months.  She has suggested several different ideas to help him work out his anger.  Glitter jar to shake, or go to his bedroom, or make a fort to go to into when he is angry, but he does not do these things. When he gets angry he sometimes gets physical.  I notice that sometimes before it starts, he makes a growling noise.  He cannot tell us why he is getting angry.  There have been problems in the home at times.  His parents argue in front of the kids.  It is breaking my heart to see him going through this.  He tells them sometimes in this rage that he wishes they were dead.  

Does this sound like anger overload?  Need help to understand and help him!!!!

Hi, What I would recommend is writing on some paper what is going on each time before he explodes.  Has there been a disagreement among his parents?  Is he disappointed that something did not go his way?  If you can keep track of what happens first, then you might notice a theme or pattern.  You might be able to see what kind of issues precipitate his anger.

Then, you can try to head off an outburst by using one of the techniques I describe in my parent's manual.  You can use "emotional distraction," or lower your grandson's expectations before he gets upset, or use a calming technique with him. I describe these strategies in my manual and in other blog posts.

One thought I have is to use his growling noise as a sign that he is close to getting into the overload phase.  See if you can use emotional distraction or a calming strategy  at that point, before he explodes.

The reason why the strategies you describe above (like going inside a fort) do not work well is that once a child gets to the overload phase, he is not thinking rationally.  So the child will not usually follow advice at that point.  Then you have to wait it out and walk away (unless he is doing something dangerous).  I know that this is a difficult time for parents, and it's hard to walk away, but if you pay too much attention or try to reason with him during an outburst, he is likely to get more angry.

If there are family issues, then having the parents work on those issues with the psychologist will pay dividends for the whole family.  Also, you will need the parents' help to keep track of what goes on before an outburst, so having them involved in the therapy is important.

Best, Dr. Dave Gottlieb