Even though children with ADHD experience exactly the same emotions as their peers, their emotions are a lot harder to manage, which tends to impact their lives in a big way.
Hyperactivity, irritability, and impulsivity are all common symptoms of ADHD but many people don’t know that the ability to control emotions is another very common symptom. A child with ADHD may find it difficult to control emotions such as sadness, laziness, anger or hurt, especially since they tend to feel these emotions more frequently and more intensely.
Every child experiences emotions differently. While one child may find it difficult to get motivated, another may find it difficult to control their outbursts. Some of the other ways that children with ADHD may deal with emotions include:
- Overthinking and worrying about everything
- Demanding immediate gratification
- Getting frustrated easily
- Getting offended very easily
- Having trouble calming down once they’re angry
The reason behind the struggle
No two children are the same and very often the temperament that kids have at birth are an indication of how they will deal with emotions as they grow up, the only difference is that ADHD leads to them feel difficult emotions more often and with greater intensity.
Instead of being able to step back and remove themselves from the situation or think before they act, children with ADHD get totally caught up in an emotion in that moment. Imagine experiencing hurt, anger or discouragement, and having that emotion and experience consume you completely. This is what it’s like for an ADHD child.
Because children with ADHD need more time to develop the processes necessary to manage their emotions better, they are frustrated, fearful, and reluctant more often.
Tips for helping your child manage their emotions
So, what can you do to help a child that is having trouble controlling their emotions? Here are 5 helpful tips:
- Acknowledge how they’re feeling. Practice empathy and tell your child that you understand how they’re currently feeling, helping them to feel supported.
- Don’t argue. In order to not escalate the problem, rather don’t tell your child that they should be feeling differently to how they’re currently feeling.
- Find a solution. Once you’ve acknowledged that you understand how your child is feeling, help them find a way to process and deal with the situation or emotion. Once again, show them how much you are there to support them and gently offer a solution and a way forward that will help them cope with any disappointment, anger or anxiety that they might be feeling.
- Consider a counselor. Sometimes it helps to rope in a professional to help your child better manage their emotions and to learn coping mechanisms that they can use at home and at school
- Speak to your doctor. The right medication can make a big difference to your child’s health and wellbeing so speak to your doctor about ADHD medication options.
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