ADHD Temper Tantrums

I believe that one of the most difficult things for parents of ADHD children to learn is to deal with temper tantrums and to to take the things that these kids say to you, no matter how hurtful, with a huge pound of salt.  

Children with Inattentive ADHD often have a considerable amount of anxiety and/or depression.  Children when they are sad, frustrated, or anxious will often have a temper tantrum because anger is an emotion that is more cathartic or more readily available to them.  These kids will often blurt out, in anger, the first thing that comes to their minds.

Temper tantrums can be a daily occurrence in the household of children with ADHD. Hyperactive/Impulsive children are often more prone to Impulsive negative thoughts and oppositional symptoms but children with Inattentive ADHD can also ‘melt down’ in fits of, full blown frustration, anger and despair.

It can be very disruptive to a household when you have a child who is prone to saying things that are really dark, really angry, and really vengeful. Many ADHD children cannot control those 'home wrecker' thoughts and the tantrums are mostly out of their control as well. These children often feel so out of control and frustrated that they find it impossible to shake off a constant irritability that they live with.

It is almost like they have this terrible thing that is stuck to their brain, a crown of thorns, filled with negative thoughts, sadness, anger, and despair. They blurt out that they hate you, that you are the worst parent in the world, and that they wish that you were dead, when what they really mean to say is:

"Mommy, the pain in my head is unbearable. I am so sad, so frustrated, and so angry that I cannot control the things that I say. I am trying my best, Mommy, so how can this possibly be my fault? Please help me Mommy, I am a child and children should not have to bear a brain that is so out of control and so difficult."

ADHD medication can often control much of the irritability and impulsiveness that causes these negative thought but there is a parenting tool that is perhaps more important. We must, as parents, learn to hear the words in italics above instead of the words that the ADHD child is screaming when they are in the midst of a tantrum.

This skill takes practice and patience but I believe that if a parent can master it, they may well be giving their child an ADHD treatment that is more effective and more valuable than money can buy.


  1. Wow, that is so powerful! Reading the italics brought me to tears. Thank you. Now I have to figure out how to get past the swinging fist that often come with the words. I so just want to get in and hold her but she often is to angry to let me. Any suggestions? I just found your blog and can't wait to read more.

  2. Thanks for reading!! I allow my kids to "release their anger" in a number of ways. They are allowed to go into their room and scream. They are allowed to bang their pillows against the wall, they are allowed to punch their mattress, They are allowed to slam themselves against their beds but they are not allowed to slam doors, kick, punch, hit, etc.

    The rules need to be spelled our when everyone is calm and happy. When a tantrum starts I say, "I know that you are really angry but I need you to go to your room and have your tantrum, if you are going to stay here, you can cry but you cannot scream". I never try to hug my boys when they are in the middle of a tantrum because they are not in a place where they can be hugged. I do tell them that if they would like a hug or for me to sit with them, that I am ready.

    In the middle of this kind of storm I try to just minimize the damage and hurt feeling by reminding the kids of the ground rules I usually also provide an incentive for following the rules. Following the rule for three weeks gets my kids a trip to a "Jumpy" playground place.

    Be consistent about insisting on the rules and reward promptly (after the tantrum) for abiding by the rules. "you did exactly the right thing by going to your room when you got mad. You get ten extra minutes of screen time today because you remembered and followed the rules so well."

    I will be thinking of you, good luck!!!

  3. hello i'm may. i met one of our special students who is 7 years old who has ADHD plus hearing impairment. have you ever heard of such cases or could share any tips or reference? thanks in advance :)

  4. When problems such as hearing impairments or visual impairments are present with ADHD it is extremely important that the child be checked thoroughly by a language specialist.

    Language and visual problems can co-exist with ADHD but they can also look just like ADHD when the real issue is the difficulty with communication.

    The good news is that when the language issue is addressed and treated, the ADHD symptoms improve. This is true even when there is a 'true' diagnosis of ADHD that co-exists with the hearing impairment.

    The best thing would be to try to improve whatever symptom is causing the greatest academic impairment because when the academic piece is improved, all the behavioral elements improve. Keep me posted on how it is going and thanks for writing in.


  5. If a visual problem exist then the child need to be checked by an optometrist and/or developmental ophthomologist.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.