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How To Handle Your ADHD Child’s Explosive Behaviour


Defiant, oppositional and explosive behaviour is more apparent than all other challenges experienced by children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD/ADD). Most parents with ADHD children, when faced with violent, defiant and non-compliant behaviours, resort to Reactive parenting. Thing is, sometimes it just doesn’t work. But, there’s always Plan B – Proactive parenting. This serves better chances of handling your ADHD Child Explosive Behaviour and provides better ways to develop skills in parenting an ADHD kid.

What is Proactive Parenting?

When ADHD children misbehave, parents often fall into the trap of using reactive parenting. – directly reacting to the bad behaviour. We resort to this method especially when we are tired, frustrated and stressed.

Proactive parenting is a method where parents understand and act thoughtfully towards a child’s peculiar behaviour. It is developing an understanding that your child’s defiant behaviour is not his/her fault, instead, just a response to his/her incapability to meet expectations. Proactive parenting enables you to be mindful, empathetic but still impose firm concepts to implement disciplinary boundaries, It is focused on addressing the skills that the child is lacking rather than the explosive behaviour itself.

Here are some tips to help deal with your child’s explosive behaviour. Some of these tips may be the opposite of the things you are used to doing as a parent, but it helps to know a thing or two.

1. Don’ t get too caught up on “the diagnosis”.

Getting a proper ADHD diagnosis will tell or confirm that something is different with your child but it doesn’t explain your child’s explosive behaviour.  Psychiatric diagnoses are given to label a group of challenges or negative behaviours exhibited by your child. The infamous symptoms of ADHD are inattentiveness, lack of focus and hyperactivity. These symptoms mainly affect your child’s behaviour and responses. These behaviours, however, are things your child resort to do in order to let you know that they are not meeting certain expectations or stuck at a situation.

2. Explosive behaviour is a product of lack of important cognitive skills.

ADHD/ADD is characterized by impairment of cognitive skills such as logic and reasoning, working memory, and tolerance for frustration.  When they are faced with circumstances that demand the use of these skills, they tend to explode or exhibit challenging behaviours.

3. Expectations overtake skills.

As mentioned above, kids behave explosively because of situation where their skills fail to meet their expectation. But these kids do not behave like this all the time; their problems are bound only by certain conditions and expectations.

4. Figure your child out.

Realize that kids are not perfect and so is yours. Observe and assess the skills that your child lacks and which expectations he/she has a hard time meeting. Unmet expectation equals unsolved problems. Unsolved problems leads to frustrations. Use free tools available online to assess what skills your child is lagging in and which problems does he usually have a hard time solving.

Try looking for pattern of your ADHD child’s outbursts. What are the triggering factors? What are the stimuli? Take note of these or keep a listing or a journal if you will find it helpful.

5. Try a new parenting plan.

You should’ve known by now which of your parenting ways are not working for you and your child. Try pointing out all the methods that were not able to give solutions to your child’s ADHD behaviours. Work with other parenting techniques – proactive parenting. Now don’t go alone solving both your problems. Work with your child and be a team. Find a partner in your child instead of always putting them off, scolding, screaming, and yelling when they commit a mistake or resist to do something.

6. Don’t fall into the trap of anger.

Anger doesn’t solve anything. And it is never a good time to settle a heated argument when you are angry. But how can you solve your child’s explosive behaviour when you don’t know when it’s going to occur? By assessing your child’s behaviour, you can identify the situations that can possibly spark your child’s explosive behaviour, identify the triggers and be able to work on them.  

7. Prioritize problems.

Not all problems are created equal. Not every thing needs to be solved all at once. When you have already made a comprehensive list of the particular expectations that your ADHD child is having a hard time meeting, pick two or three to work on. Then, prioritize. Which of the problems are to be addressed first? Are there issues that concern the safety of your child? Deal with these first. If there are no issues about these, determine which situations lead to the worst behaviour responses or those that frequently affect your child’s life aspects.

8. Don’t go labeling your child.

Looking at your child through another perspective gives you the chance to stop labeling your child in counterproductive ways – attention-seeker, manipulative, button-pushing, etc. You, above everyone else should know that these labels are not your child.

9. Learn and do your plans.

Work your plans with your child. Familiarize, apply and develop muscle memory on those plans. As you continue to work collaboratively with your child, you will develop good communication and stronger relationship.  Prompt and remind your child on the habits and how to perform the skills.

10. Don’t dwell on disagreements.

You can prevent disagreements from happening. Problems may be inevitable but what matters is how you deal with it and how you address the issues that caused the disagreements.  Aside from strengthening your relationship with your child, not dwelling on conflicts strengthens the behaviours that you want to impose and the habits you want your child to learn.

Your Explosive Child Needs You

Parenting is a challenging thing. And parenting an ADHD child with explosive tendencies is definitely not for the weak-hearted. It can be a demanding task as a parent to handle a child’s aggressive behaviour but it can make a big difference for kids who are still growing up.  It definitely needs extra hard work and patience but seeing your child do better in many different things is worth everything.

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We have been diagnosing and treating people with ADHD since 2009.

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