Quick tips to cope with aggressive behavior
- Quick tip 1Assess for danger.Assess for danger.
It’s not uncommon for kids and some adults with ADHD to be aggressive. But get help if physical aggression is out of control and directed at people or property. Call 911 if you think someone is in immediate danger.
- Quick tip 2Use a calm voice.Use a calm voice.
Unless something dangerous is happening, don’t raise your voice or say angry things. Speak calmly and model self-control.
- Quick tip 3Suggest a cool-down.Suggest a cool-down.
Say that you both need to step away and calm down before you talk about the outburst and how to prevent another one.
- Quick tip 4Understand, but don’t excuse.Understand, but don’t excuse.
Say, “I know you didn’t mean to hurt me, but when you kick it does hurt. Kicking is not OK. If that happens again, you’ll lose an hour of TV.”
- Quick tip 5Write it down.Write it down.
After an outburst, take notes on what happened and what was happening right before. Look for patterns in the behavior.
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.