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Why kids in fourth grade often get angry

By Bob Cunningham, EdM

Kids can go through periods of being angry at any age and for many different reasons. But fourth grade is a common time for temper flare-ups. You may see anger in kids who didn’t show it before. Or more anger in kids who were already prone to it. 

What is it about fourth grade that brings out anger issues? For many kids, it’s frustration over school. 

In fourth grade, school becomes more demanding . All subjects get much harder. Teaching changes. Kids who were doing fine may suddenly have trouble keeping up, and not know why. 

Friendships and socializing also get more complicated. Kids who have trouble with social skills or who are different in some way may be bullied or left out for the first time.

Ongoing frustration and pressure can lead to anger. And kids may not always have the self-control to keep their temper in check. That’s especially true of kids with ADHD.

Dive deeper

Anger and self-control

It takes self-control to keep anger in check. Most kids gain that skill by early grade school and can keep from having outbursts. 

But some kids take much longer to develop self-control than their peers. They can have trouble managing anger throughout their childhood. 

Find out more about self-control and what it means for kids .

When ADHD is the cause

Kids with ADHD often feel emotions intensely. They also have trouble managing emotions. So, when things don’t go well, it doesn’t take much for frustration or worries to tip over into anger.

It’s also hard for kids with ADHD to let go of negative feelings. They often get “stuck” in their emotions and don’t see things from different angles. Anger can fester long after a situation has passed.

Learn more about ADHD and anger .

Next steps

Pay close attention to the behavior and look for patterns. For example, do outbursts always happen when it’s time to read? Is the anger worse at certain times of day? 

Kids get the best help and support when families and teachers work closely together. Share your observations and concerns. Talk about strategies to try and what to do next. 

Pediatricians can also help with behavior challenges. Parents and caregivers should connect with their child’s doctor about the anger issues they’re seeing.

Parents and caregivers: Keep in mind that it’s not uncommon for fourth graders to suddenly stop talking to you. Find out why it happens and what to do .

Related topics

Frustration Frustration Managing emotions Managing emotions Signs and symptoms Signs and symptoms

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If kids fall apart when they get home from school, there’s a bright side. It can mean that they feel safe to express themselves at home and trust the people there to help them calm down — no matter what.

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Tantrums and meltdowns are not the same thing. A meltdown usually isn’t something people can control.

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