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.
Many people 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.
The impulsivity that fuels aggressive behavior tends to lessen as kids grow up and move into adulthood. But adults with ADHD can sometimes be aggressive, too. It’s often verbal, but not always.
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 that another child won’t give up might hit the child to get it. A fourth grader might shove a classmate who cuts in line to get the last slice of pizza at lunch.
Some people with ADHD have other factors that cause aggression. These include stress, bullying, learning challenges, and mental health issues. Lack of sleep and hunger can also have an impact.
Tell us what interests you
About the author
About the author
Kate Kelly has been writing and editing for more than 20 years, with a focus on parenting.
Ellen Braaten, PhD is the director of LEAP at Massachusetts General Hospital.