Are all children this angry or is it just mine?
Parents seek assessments for a variety of reasons. Though usually, something in their child’s life has become difficult, whether it is academic, behavioural, social or emotional. Sometimes, parents come to me because the child’s behaviour is impacting the child’s ability to experience success at school, socially, and often within the home.
I often hear of experiences like “we watch other families calmly pack up and leave soccer practice, but our child is on the ground having a tantrum. Every. Single. Time.” Or “We cannot go out to dinner as a family. Ever.”
Other times, parents have had teachers share of difficulties maintaining friendships with peers, and of anger escalating to pushing or hitting.
As a parent, this can feel overwhelming and leave you not knowing where to turn.
Though anger and behavioural concerns can stem from several different sources, ADHD can often be at the root.
When we think of hyperactive and impulsive, the first thing that comes to mind is an individual with very high energy who is always moving.
That is often the case.
But not always.
Impulsivity can also be impulsive feelings, impulsive words, and impulsive actions or reactions to social situations.
Talking or acting without thinking first.
This can show up as children speaking out of turn, blurting out and interrupting, being quick to tears, easily frustrated, impatient, punching or hitting before thinking of possible consequences or alternate actions.
As a result, these students are labeled as angry, emotional, sometimes violent and aggressive.
Emotional dysregulation is a very common and frequent part of ADHD for both children and adults. It is also linked to accompanying anxiety and depression.
Many adults that I work with have been treated for anxiety and/or depression for many years with mixed, and often underwhelming, results.
A proper diagnosis, combined with reducing impulsivity, hyperactivity and inattention can be key to seeing changes.
The two most common ways of doing this is by working with a counsellor (or psychologist) to create new more positive behaviours, and/or medication.
For medication information and prescription, you need to book an appointment with a family doctor. Psychologists do not prescribe medication.
We know that both of these strategies, behavioural and medical, will ultimately lead to success. Though, the road will look slightly different depending on the approach you take. Faster changes are often attributed to using both at the same time.
Another important part to changing behaviour is effective and consistent parenting strategies. This is why many psychologist will not work with children unless parents also attend sessions.
Once parents are comfortable with the information, sharing it with teachers and other caregivers (grand-parents, aunts, uncles, nannies), becomes another important key to success.
Consistency is important is seeing lasting positive changes. Consistency between caregivers as well as in different environments (home & school).
So why is an assessment important in this process?
An assessment will provide you with concrete information about how your child’s brain works. What their strengths are. How they best receive and understand information. You will also get an idea of the level of struggle your child is experiencing.
You will get a baseline, making it easier to measure (and celebrate!) progress.
Having this information puts all the adults on the same page, making implementing strategies easier, more to the point, and likely a lot faster.
Without an assessment, there is a lot of guess work when it comes to strategies, and often very little results.
Fast positive changes make everyone happy!
*It is important to note that anger is not always a sign or symptom of ADHD. There are many other mood disorders which may result in anger. This is why working with a trusted professional is important for proper assessment, diagnosis and treatment.
Why is My Child So Angry?
The ADHD-Anger Connection
The Explosive Child by Dr. Ross Greene
Your Defiant Child by Christine M. Benton and Russell Barkley
From Chaos to Calm: Effective Parenting of Challenging Children with ADHD and Other Behavioural Problems by Janet E. Heininger and Sharon K. Weiss