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Healthy Outlets for Anger


My 10yo daughter (ADHD, medicated) doesn’t get angry often but when she does it is out of control.  It isn’t in proportion to the event and she says incredibly hurtful things.  Today, she punched a hole in the wall.  She, luckily, is still receptive to talking about her issues and still values my opinion.
We talked about healthy outlets for anger and she understands it is better to hit pillows and such.  But she would really like to destroy something when she is “letting her anger out”...  We tried ripping paper.  That doesn’t really do it for her.  (I suggested we get her a cat she could kick when she was angry and I was GREATLY relieved that she was horrified at the idea. <grin> Just checking.) Anyway, any thoughts on what has worked for your kids would be welcome.

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Our therapist shared a great overview of our brain “on anger” and stated it was all limbic system-fight or flight response.  He called it our alligator brain and said the best way to move to more rational frontal lobe thinking is by breathing.  He suggested an app to practice with called Belly Bio - which plays music when you are breathing deeply and correctly.  The app and beginning yoga/meditation are on our 2014 resolution lists smile

Posted by momtodom on Dec 30, 2013 at 1:06pm

Our son, when he was 10, also got so angry he put holes in the wall.  We had him in Psychotherapy with a child Psychologist which really helped.  But the anger is really all part of ADHD - he got so frustrated he got angry. And then he would think “I hurt so much inside that I want to hurt you so you understand how I feel”. 

We always use this saying “It’s OK to be angry, it’s not OK to hit”.  And lots of empathy.

Medication has helped tremendously - but also as he has gotten older (now 14) he is better at controlling himself.  He still gets very angry - but he now yells, swears and stomps around the house.  Still not ideal but WAY better than physical aggression.

Good luck!

Posted by staypositive on Dec 30, 2013 at 2:46pm

Maybe get a standing punching bag. Exercise can be a healthy stress reliever

Posted by MaryAnn_29 on Dec 30, 2013 at 4:44pm

This is a good explanation for why the anger.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cw8jHUkHiA

It’s not really an “issue” so much as it is a physiological response that she has no control over in the moment.  I appreciate your willingness to help your daughter to find an outlet but be aware that anger can be self perpetuating.  Or rather self generating.  And also you have to understand that if you allow her to use a physical output for her upset then this is going to perpetuate a pattern and also validate the intensity - and we know that people with ADHD cannot self regulate emotions, particularly anger, and what’s more they believe, because they can’t regulate, that their emotions are real and appropriate.

So the more you can get her to self talk the better off in the long run she will be because she won’t have created this habit.  And remember people with ADHD cannot anticipate the future consequences of their actions now - so you need to do it for her.

Posted by YellaRyan on Dec 30, 2013 at 7:29pm

Regular exercise.

I agree with the research against things like punching bags.

Although I am a big fan of the martial arts, beating something like a punching bag when you are angry only reinforces that you should punch or destroy things when you are angry.

Learning proper anger management and trying to understand the antecedents and function of behaviors is where the long term improvement lies….

Posted by Dr. Eric on Jan 02, 2014 at 11:14pm

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