Tuesday, February 19, 2019

14 year old's anger in school

After reading your information blog on anger overload I feel compelled to email you in the hope you can offer some advice.
I have a 13 ( 14 in a few weeks)son who seems to be having anger issues. He is a kind caring person but his temper can be short at home at times. Though the occasions are pretty rare.

However at school his temper seems to be out of control. He seems to struggle with the constant need to pay attention. He feels one particular teacher goads him to get angry though I'm pretty sure this is my son reading the situation wrong. He loses his temper, lashes out or just walks the corridors in a bid to get away ( from his anger maybe??) He had more recently punch a window in anger and hit another boy who verbally attacked him. He is now classed at school as out of control. 

I have sat him down and he tells me he feels the anger in the pit of his stomach and it rises and he can't control it. I've told him to try breath through it ( he thought this was funny as he says he can't) . I've expressed walking away when he feels the anger brewing ( but again he can't if in school).

In general he is a lively boy, with a comical sense of humor, who can be quite bouncy and heavy footed all at the same time. He can be caring and loving and intelligent but the anger is paving the way for all off the good qualities to be ruined by this. Is this anger overload? ADHD? I feel I talk to him and he hears me but just can't implement what I tell him. How do I help him to learn to control his anger or what treatment do I seek out for him .

Thank you.

Hi, You made some good suggestions about taking deep breaths or walking away.  Also your son noticing a feeling in the pit of his stomach could be helpful.  Is this before he loses control, and could he learn a strategy to implement right at that time before he reaches overload?  Some schools will convene a 504 meeting that allows for modifications in the school routine.  You can ask for such a meeting.  In your son's case, it would be great if the school could work out a "go to" place for your son when he starts to feel angry.  In some schools this is the social worker's or nurse's office.  In other schools it is the hallway or bathroom.  In any case, your son would be encouraged to signal the teacher when he feels the need to leave and then return as soon as he calms down (usually 10 to 20 minutes).  

I outline strategies in my parent's manual and in the the anger overload workbook, both are  available from online book sellers.  I explain how it is important to consider the triggers.  In your son's case it seems interaction with one of his teachers is a trigger.  Your son should be on the lookout for his anger in that class, and work on ways to look at the situation differently.  For example, he could learn to say to himself that this teacher is strict or hard on everyone at times (or use whatever, adjective helps him to look at the situation in a new way).  He could be encouraged to think to himself that she may " bark" but she won't "bite", or some other memorable phrase.  In my manuals and workbook, I outline other useful strategies.  Ideally you would talk them over with your son and he would try one or two that he preferred.

ADHD is a different problem but can co-exist with anger overload.  With ADHD, children have a hard time staying focused in class; they are easily distracted.  In addition there may be some impulsive and hyperactive behaviors.  Usually there are signs of problems with concentration in school  from a young age.

Best, Dr. Dave Gottlieb

1 comment:

  1. Thank you!! I shall definitely invest in the books/work books and go through your recommendations with my son. I shall arrange a meeting as I agree a space to go to is within his best interests. I have requested this before though the school took the view he would abuse this but I too think it's much needed. The problems haven't been within younger years and like I say are not really at home so I would agree ADHD probably isn't a cause. I really appreciate taking the time to offer your time to myself and others.