Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Taking Control of Tantrums: Tips for Working with ADD, RAD and "Average" Kids

Tantrums are something all parents have to deal with, whether they are your own bio. kids, or foster or adopted children. Kids with behavioral or psychological issues of course add an additional complexity to dealing with anger issues, and require some sensitivity, however, at the very core of a tantrum, the approach is the same.

We have talked quite a bit about tantrum behavior here on Foster Parent Rescue, but some of our newest readers may not have stumbled upon those articles in our archives.  I wanted to mention them now, as we approach summer-break from school, since the kids will be home more and behaviors may initially worsen from boredom or a change in their routine. (Something we will discuss next week again as well.)

For right now though, let me refresh your memories and point our new readers to some previously posted advice on controlling tantrums.  Please check out these links on our blog:
Blowing the Whistle on Arguing: 
Great Conversations: On RAD Kids and Introverted Tantrums: Trying the Whistle Technique
Tantrums and Trust Disorders: Doorways to Better Relationships
Dealing with the Introverted RAD Kid: Introverted Tantrums and the Fall Back Technique
Avoiding Temper Tantrums in Asperger (and other) Kids: A Link

 We also wanted to add this recent article from PsychCentral.com about dealing with tantrums and ADD kids (which is appropriate for all kids really.) Check it out:

ADHD & Kids: 9 Tips to Tame Tantrums

ADHD & Kids: 9 Tips to Tame Tantrums

By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

In kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), impulsivity manifests in many different ways.
“Kids can impulsively run into the street. They can hit another student in line at school. They can climb up on the roof and jump off, hoping to fly like Superman,” said Terry Matlen, ACSW, a psychotherapist and author of Survival Tips for Women with AD/HD.
And they can have tantrums. There are many reasons why kids with ADHD have meltdowns. For instance, “for many children with ADHD there is no internal understanding of ‘later.’ It’s now or now,” Matlen said. They have a hard time putting their wants and needs on hold. Because they’re kids, they’ve also yet to learn how to calm themselves or express their needs and emotions appropriately, she said.
“A little disappointment becomes the end of the world and nothing seems to stop the child from, what looks like, obsessing over their intense needs of that moment.”
They also might feel overwhelmed by external events, such as “too much noise or excitement at a party… Combined, these symptoms make it very hard to stay calm when under stress or when they feel fearful or anxious.”
When your child has a tantrum, especially in public, it can be tough to know how to respond. Some parents vacillate from one extreme to another, from placating their child and giving in to punishing them and getting angry, according to Matlen.
But while it might seem impossible, you can navigate the rocky road of tantrums. Here are expert strategies to prevent tantrums or tame them when they start.
1. Pinpoint the source.
Psychotherapist Stephanie Sarkis, Ph.D, suggested looking “at what might be triggering your child’s behaviors.” When you can find the source of the behavior, she said, you can make strides toward changing it.
Knowing what triggers your child, Matlen said, can help you defuse their tantrum as early as possible. For instance, is your child hungry? Are they sleep-deprived? Are they experiencing strong emotions? Once you pinpoint the underlying problem try to solve it, she said.
This also is a good tool for preventing tantrums. For instance, if your child can’t handle the overstimulating environment of a local fair, just don’t take them, Matlen said.
2. Explain consequences in advance.
Before a tantrum ever starts, Matlen suggested talking to your child about the negative consequences of bad behaviors. She gave this example: “If you scream and cry when I turn off the TV, you won’t be able to watch it later today.”
Matlen took this approach when her daughter was 5 years old. She tended to have tantrums when she didn’t get a new toy at the store. “Before our next outing, I told her that if she had a tantrum, I would simply pick her up and take her home. No toys and no more visits to the store for a very long time.”
Her daughter still had a meltdown. But instead of getting furious or frustrated, Matlen picked up her daughter and took her to the car. She drove home without saying a word. And it never happened again.
“This, of course, may not work for all children, but it’s an example of planning ahead and having an outcome that everyone understands.”
3. Talk to your child, and encourage them to talk back.
Talk calmly and quietly to your child, and acknowledge their feelings, Matlen said. Doing so helps your child feel heard, Sarkis said.
For instance, according to Matlen, you might say, “I know you’re angry that I won’t buy you that toy today. It feels frustrating and it makes you feel like exploding inside, doesn’t it?”
Then, encourage your child to express their emotions, as well: “I’d be awfully upset too if I couldn’t get what I wanted right now — let’s talk about why this is so important to you so you can help me to understand.”
4. Distract your child.
For younger kids, distraction may work, Matlen said. “Talk about something completely different, like how excited you are to watch the TV show you planned, when you all get home.”

Read the rest here :  http://psychcentral.com/lib/2013/adhd-kids-9-tips-to-tame-tantrums/


  1. Oh the joy of finding such a resource for this newbie foster momma ...

    Delighted to meet you this evening. I hope you don't mind if I splash around a bit to get to know you. This looks like a crazy blessed place to be refreshed.



    1. Thanks Sarah! You made our day! That is why we are here, and if you ever run into a problem, or have a question, feel free to pick our collective brains. All our friends on Facebook want to help too! Good luck to you newbie foster mama, you are special!
      John and Diane
      Foster Parent Rescue