Emotional outbursts: Hi, never posted... - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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Emotional outbursts

Clare184 profile image
13 Replies

Hi, never posted here before so apologies for the long post! have a 9 year old boy who we are pretty sure has adhd. One of the toughest things we find to deal with is emotional outbursts and spirals. He really struggles with anything negative, someone not wanting to play with him right now, getting something wrong, being told off or not to do something etc once one thing goes wrong the moods can be so intense and he can't get out of them. We are very lucky that he is generally really well behaved and isn't violent but he will shout and stomp or cry sometimes throw things or slam doors, we also get a lot of screams of I don't care when we know the problem is that he really does care and is disappointed in himself or the situation. Any suggestions for how best to help him when he gets in this zone would be really appreciated, we have tried lots of different things but this is really starting to effect the whole family and its horrible seeing him so unhappy over small things.

13 Replies
Onthemove1971 profile image

Thanks for your post. Many children with ADHD benefit from 3 tools, therapy, educational plan and medicine.

In addition parents benefit from learning how to parent differently. For example: I have always found giving consequences forward can help a lot. For example if our son doesn't stop what fun game he is playing and I have given him a timed warning, notified him, I say tomorrow he will not have the game. This for me avoids any argument and the next day I do not give him the game. I also always deal with it at the time and limit punishment.

This journey is challanging, but once our son had the tools he could manage life much easier.

Good luck, we are here any time to help.

Trying1978 profile image

I just wrote a lengthy reply that somehow got deleted so I'll make this more concise, lol. Almost 7 & almost 9 yo boy & girl here, both ADHD diagnoses w therapists, psychiatrists, and medicine. Plus a toddler, but her "big feelings" are a lot easier to deal w the 3rd go round 😁

I hear you. We have the same with the older two, and it is hard.

You'll find tons of well meaning & helpful advice out there (be a brick wall for your children's emotions, don't react, let the small stuff go, emphasize schedules, limits, consequences, praise the positive, etc) but tbh, none of that ever helps me in the middle of a storm. Sometimes, "Do you want a hug?" does.

My son (almost 7) has bad meds crashes. The best advice I got from his therapist was to give him some absolute downtime after school. Where there is nothing expected of him.

With my older daughter (almost 9), sometimes she's okay with talking things after the fact. Before school yesterday, we had a huge issue about homework. But after school many hours later she was okay with talking about it. We do a lot with "thinking errors," a worksheet we got from her therapist.

But hang in there and give yourself a break. That's the best advice I've gotten here since last year. This shit is hard...on all of us. Will post pics of worksheet underneath, lest I delete whole post again.

OK, the image thing isn't working so here's a link to the pdf from my Google Docs 🙄


eva2022 profile image
eva2022 in reply to Trying1978

thank you for that worksheet!

Clare184 profile image
Clare184 in reply to Trying1978

Thanks so much, I recognise so many of the descriptions on the worksheet so will definitely go through this together with him

Pattimum profile image

I already replied in your other post but I also did training for parents. In our Borough it was GEMS and it’s I think like a foundation or charity but they are commissioned by NHS to deliver this to parents in my Borough. It was on Zoom and not in person so it wasn’t great. I would much prefer to be with other parents in a room and do those workshops interacting with other parents. They then sent us all the handouts from the training. I’d say it wasn’t really useful in terms of advising in behavioural strategies but it did explain a lot about ADHD brain, about executive function immaturity and other stuff. My husband also participated and later he said ‘Well, he has this condition so basically his brain can’t do these things so now I have more empathy for him when he drives us up the walls.’ But you are right, it doesn’t help the younger brother who has no ADHD and has to suffer at home when an ADHD child has outbursts etc.

Also forget about any ‘therapy’ for the ADHD child, NHS doesn’t do any such things. They offer medication and a sheet with behavioural advice and you can email your child’s ADHD nurse practitioner and she will potentially advise you specifically on a particular behaviour.

I’d say, if you go ahead with the medication and once it’s well adjusted for your child, you should see improvement in those outbursts regardless if you do any ‘behavioural therapy’ on top of it.

Clare184 profile image
Clare184 in reply to Pattimum

Thanks for the reply, good to know what isn't available as well as what is. I think I'll try to find some resources to go through with my husband because I think he would really benefit from the same as yours in terms of having a more secure understanding that he isn't being naughty on purpose or doesn't respect us his brain literally just can't process the emotions the same way we do. I've read up quite a bit so think I'm a bit better at understanding this side but sometimes difficult to remember and act correctly if a melt down happens at a bad time like 1 minute before you have to leave the house

SecretAgentIEP profile image

Occupational therapy (OT) for increasing frustration tolerance, any sensory sensitivities, executive functioning, problem solving, pragmatic language therapy to express feelings early and in appropriate way...things to reduce overreaction to the triggers and try to identify them. Sensory processing issues and emotional dysregulation is common in ADHD (and Autism or ASD). Try to get a diagnosis so you can develop tbe right treatment plan, which might include medication (if he does not have enough dopamine then his brain will have issues with regulation and executive functioning, perhaps sensory procesing). Diet, hydration, exercise, and other things also key to address.

NYCmom2 profile image

During the outbursts I find my child wants the last word and like any tantrum they behave as if they’re 3+ years younger than they are.

Use as few words as possible during these outburst, stick to safety and focus on the boundary of it’s okay to use words but not be physical or destructive in their expressions.

After school I do a lot of listening and he likes to be hugged and cuddled. Kids with ADHD often need a lot of positive words, expressions of love and physical contacts like hugs to regulate themselves. One reason is they receive more corrections, rejection and negative words throughout their day than neurotypical kids. Another reason is they need more coregulation as they tend to mature slower than peers.

I like Susan Stiffelman’s books and website for parent courses, support groups and advice. SusanStiffelman.com

DancinD profile image

We have delt with this for years with our now 10 yro daughter. I am currently doing a parent coaching course with PTS Coaching. I have found the information very helpful so far. I also recently read The Explosive Child by Ross W Greene. It gives good recommendatoins on how to address these emotional outbursts.

I am realizing that there is so much more for me to learn about Executive Funtioning Skills. Both my kids have executive functining weaknesses that affects their behaviors.

I hope that you find the thing that makes life easier for your family.

Presha911 profile image

I can definitely relate. My 9-year-old son was diagnosed with ADHD last year. For us, medication has been a God send. We used to experience very extreme mood swings on a regular basis, and it seemed like nothing we did helped. Since he started medication, the mood swings have decreased in frequency and intensity. Our pediatrician also recommended making sure he eats regularly throughout the day so his blood sugar remains stable. I hope you find the combination of strategies that works for you!

Peerandparent profile image

My personal experience is that a lot of the strategies people will recommend will not work very well in the moment. It's like trying to stop a flood with a damp paper towel.

That being said, there is a lot that can be done/practiced between the bad moments.

Mindfulness and relaxation, if practiced regularly (as in multiple times per day for a few minutes... Work it into the routine) can reduce the frequency and intensity of the heightened emotional states. If practiced regularly, it also becomes a familiar action that will be easier to use in the moment, instead of being asked to do something unfamiliar and uncomfortable when already upset. See if you can gamify some of the exercises... My 8yo likes playing the mirror game, where you take turns copying the other person's slow movements...

I've heard a quote before: "When a husband and wife argue about the dishes, it's never an argument about the dishes". In your kid's case, odds are that when they get upset, it's rarely just about the current event. When I was 8-9, when I did something that frustrated me, or when someone made fun of me, or got upset with me, my brain would flip through a catalog of every similar negative event in the past, often ricocheting like billiard balls with other negative memories in the process.

Therapy is good. So is making sure they understand what ADHD is as best they can, and be able to identify areas where events are caused by ADHD and not because of a personal failing. They still need to be accountable and take responsibility for their actions, but knowing when ADHD is the culprit can mean that when problem solving ways to avoid a similar event in the future the focus is on accomodation, ways to avoid it, and what tools will be helpful, rather than simply trying to "fix" the behaviour or resolve not to do it again.

Also, there will be times that despite everything, they will have some sucky moments. And hopefully they will have friends and family they can lean on.

MumLuvBubs profile image

What works for me is a daily chart/chore list. I have on my son and daughters chart (son has ADHD & my daughter is neuro typical) no yelling and no whining, right underneath dirty clothes in hamper and they get money or extra screen time if they get that star for that day. They love the list! I speak to them about having emotional intelligence and how it’s a lifelong journey. They remind me “Mom, emotional intelligence” 😁

tattooed_mom profile image

I feel your pain. My son when he was 10 still threw 2 year old temper tantrums. He would scream at the top of his lungs. After many years of behavioral therapy, medications and patience, he is a lot better. He's now 14, still has anger outbursts, but they are manageable. He is diagnosed with ADHD and ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) meaning that he has a hard time listening to those who have authority. He has moved past the ODD but the ADHD still lingers.

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