ADHD and Emotional Control

I was one of those blubbering children that cried about everything.  I cried, without fail, every morning and my mother reports that I did not stop crying until I was in High School.  I mostly cried about going to school.  My mother says that she had to disenroll me from Kindergarten because the teachers complained that I would cry so much that I would throw-up.

I stopped throwing up in first grade because the 'kind' Sisters of St. Joseph, who ran the Catholic School that I attended in first through third grade, had a basket for the poor that was full of old clothes.  If I threw up, I got to wear a piece of clothing from the basket for the poor.  The basket for the poor did not stop my crying but it did cure my throwing up.

My older sister, who was one of the 'coolest' kids in the school, refused to sit with me on the bus because she said that I was an embarrassment to mankind.  My younger sister sat with me very reluctantly.  To this day, if I am the least bit mean to her, she reminds me that she sat with me on the bus when no one else would when I was all snotty nosed and gross.

Russell Barkley, one of the foremost authorities on ADHD, reports that children with ADHD have less of an ability to regulate and internalize their emotions than other children.  He reports that both children and adults have problems inhibiting their emotional response to events and that while the emotion is appropriate, the unusually exaggerated public manifestation of that emotion is generally not.

Children and adults with ADHD are likely to have exaggerated responses to both positive and negative emotions.  My youngest son, when he is happy, can practically knock over furniture with excitement and my eldest son gets so uncontrollably giggly when he is happy that I sometimes wonder if he has completely gone off the deep end.

The negative emotions are of course harder to deal with.   My youngest son gets sad beyond belief when he is sad and he gets mad beyond belief when he is mad.  Being able to remain calm and supportive while your children are dealing with big emotions is not always easy.  It helps tremendously, however, to keep your emotions in check while their's are out of control.  I find the easiest way to be supportive is to acknowledge their sadness, anger, frustration, or euphoria while reminding them of any house rule that they may be on the brink of breaking.

Remembering that the increased emotional response is all part of the ADHD package helps to put the emotion in perspective and I feel that learning to be patient and supportive during this kind of parenting storm is an art worth mastering.  I love this quote by Vincent Van Gogh because I think that it applies more to parenting than to fishing:

"The fisherman knows that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore". 

I think that you would agree that we climbed aboard the parenting boat knowing that the seas might be fickle, and it is our responsibility to learn how to weather our parenting storms.


  1. Just to let you know, I have linked your post to one of my blogs, not sure what blog etiquite is about linking posts, hope you dont mind

  2. Reading this post has lifted a weight from my shoulders....thank you


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