By Lee Gehrls, Volunteer Resource Development Coordinator

On Tuesday, January 24, 2017 Resource® Training & Solutions will offer a workshop on Rage, Anger and Aggression in Children and Adolescents: How to Understand and Calm the Angry Mind from 7 pm to 9 pm at their learning center located at 137 23rd Street South in Sartell, MN.  The presenter will be Amber Morrighan, MA, LMFT, who is the Regional Program Supervisor of The Village in St. Cloud.

Now you might be asking yourself, “Why is she writing about ADHD and anger?” Well, we all know that ADHD by itself is a lot to learn about and handle and we also know that it seldom occurs alone.  Research has shown that it is very common to have ADHD with a coexisting condition.  Children and adolescents with ADHD can have anger problems that range from mild to severe such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).  All kids can have a bad day and get angry over something that goes wrong.  Same applies to kids and teens who have ADHD.  But when the anger progresses to more frequent occurrences and it’s affecting how they deal with their activities throughout their day, how they interact with the family, and the acting out turns into rage and aggression that’s when you need to tell yourself, “We’ve got to have this checked out now.”  It is an extra component of ADHD that all of us as parents must keep our radar on to watch for those early signs and symptoms.

I remember noticing my son coming home from second and third grade and his face would be set in an awful scowl, glaring eyes and the book bag went flying into the corner.  I soon learned that was not the time to ask him about his day.  He looked like a tightly wound spring that was about to come undone.  Trying to figure out what was going on with him took a bit of doing.  There was a visit with his pediatrician and therapist and lots of reading on my part along with running the question by my support group buddies.  The best theory we all came up with was he had worked so hard that day to hold everything together that now that he was home in a safe place he could “unwind”.  Haven’t we all been in that very same situation and feeling?

What we needed was a Bad Day Game Plan.  When he walked in the door with the familiar look on his face, I knew to get his high protein after school snack ready to refresh his energy supply.  He got to go outside to work off the frustration and get some fresh air instead of showing me his homework.  If he still needed some space a little television would be permitted and lastly he got to pick what we would have for supper which usually ended up being pizza.  [Tip: This worked for him and so I came up with options for his younger brother too who didn’t have ADHD.  Why?  His brother didn’t feel that my ADHD son was getting all the attention and my ADHD son didn’t feel that he was different from his brother.]  As both of them got older we would tweak their Bad Day Game Plan.  This is what worked in our house.  We did not have to deal with all out anger, rage and aggression but many ADHD families do.  Families who have kids without ADHD have to deal with this problem.

If your child or teen, whether they have ADHD or not, is struggling with anger, rage and aggression you may want to check out the workshop on Tuesday, January 24, 2017 and for sure see your pediatrician and/or therapist.  This is a serious problem that can escalate and it often times requires professional help for your child and family.