ADHD and aggression

By Kate Kelly

Expert reviewed by Ellen Braaten, PhD

Many kids with ADHD are quick to get angry. They feel emotions intensely and can have trouble managing them.

Kids with ADHD tend to have outbursts more often than other kids their age. Much of the time, these flare-ups aren’t threatening. Kids might yell or slam doors. But sometimes, they lose control and become aggressive. 

When kids lash out physically, they might kick or hit other kids — or even adults. They don’t mean to hurt anyone and often feel terrible afterward. But in the moment, they don’t have the self-control to stop themselves.

For example, a first grader who wants a toy might hit another child who’s holding the toy. A fourth grader might shove a classmate who cuts in line to get a slice of pizza at lunch. 

Some kids with ADHD have other factors that can also cause aggression. These include stress, bullying, trouble with learning, and mental health challenges. Lack of sleep and hunger can also have an impact.

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About the author

About the author

Kate Kelly has been writing and editing for more than 20 years, with a focus on parenting.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Ellen Braaten, PhD is the director of LEAP at Massachusetts General Hospital.


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