ADHD Children and Coping With Tantrums

children who have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) have more frequent and aggressive tantrums which are much harder to deal with. Read more.All young children can be difficult, and many go through "terrible twos" (and threes) where tantrums are a frequent part of daily living. But children who have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) have more frequent and aggressive tantrums which after a hard day with them, can make you feel you have done ten rounds with the world heavyweight boxing champion!

We all know that most ordinary children have tantrums, and fits of rage are as common in girls as in boys at an early age. As children get older, one hopes that they get out of this way of behaving. It is never easy trying to find ways to alleviate these situations, as something which seems to work one day, has no effect whatsoever the next. However, I have a few suggestions which just MAY work from time-to-time.

Some of the tips are more suited to the younger child, but with ADHD you may have to deal with tantrums in children who should be well past them, in which case the last three suggestions may be more appropriate. Please don't come back to me if they don't work! After all, I am still dealing with tantrums in a twelve year old, and I often don't have all the answers. However, some of them may be worth a try:

  • Prevention. Can you spot early warning signs which indicate your child is building up to a tantrum? If so, try to step in and calm them before it escalates into a full scale war.

  • Distraction. Does the child have a favorite book, toy or cuddly animal? If so, it is sometimes possible to distract them enough in the early stages to stop their outburst from becoming a full-blown tantrum.

  • Reassurance. Talk in a soothing voice throughout, and promise that they are safe and that they are going to be okay. Keep doing this until they have regained control of their emotions. If the child wants a cuddle and a good cry after calming down let them.

  • Stay calm. This, admittedly, is a difficult one, as ADHD mums are usually at the end of their tether most of the time anyway because of the constant pressure. Staying calm however, helps you to stay in control of the situation, especially if you manage to keep your temper.

  • Don't retaliate. Don't match aggression with aggression. You'll just lose it!

  • Stand your ground. Don't, if possible, give in to a screaming child, even though it is very tempting. If you do, it will just give them the message that if they scream long and hard enough, they will eventually get what they want.

We all know that theory is great, but often doesn't work with our children. However, you may just find one of the above suggestions works on occasion.

next: A Letter to A Misunderstood ADHD Kid
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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2007, June 6). ADHD Children and Coping With Tantrums, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Last Updated: February 14, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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