Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 16th 2013 Contents In kids with attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),
impulsivity manifests in many dif-
"Kids can impulsively run into
the street. They can hit another
student in line at school. They can
climb up on the roof and jump off,
hoping to fly like Superman," said
Terry Matlen, ACSW, a psychother-
apist and author of Survival Tips
for Women with AD/HD.
And they can have tantrums.
There are many reasons why kids
with ADHD have meltdowns. For
instance, "for many children with
ADHD there is no internal under-
standing of later. It s now or now,"
They have a hard time putting
their wants and needs on hold.
Because they re kids, they ve also
yet to learn how to calm themselves
or express their needs and emotions
appropriately, she said.
"A little disappointment becomes
the end of the world and nothing
seems to stop the child from, what
looks like, obsessing over their
intense needs of that moment."
They also might feel over-
whelmed by external events, such
as, "too much noise or excitement
at a party...Combined, these symp-
toms make it very hard to stay calm
when under stress or when they
feel fearful or anxious."
When your child has a tantrum,
especially in public, it can be tough
to know how to respond. Some
parents vacillate from one extreme
to another, from placating their
child and giving in to punishing
them and getting angry, according
But while it might seem impos-
sible, you can navigate the rocky
road of tantrums. Here are expert
strategies to prevent tantrums or
tame them when they start.
Pinpoint the source
Psychotherapist Stephanie Sarkis,
PhD, suggested looking "at what
might be triggering your child s
behaviours." When you can find
the source of the behaviour, she
said, you can make strides toward
Knowing what triggers your
child, Matlen said, can help you
defuse their tantrum as early as
possible. For instance, is your child
hungry? Are they sleep-deprived?
Are they experiencing strong emo-
tions? Once you pinpoint the
underlying problem try to solve it,
This also is a good tool for pre-
venting tantrums. For instance, if
your child can t handle the over-
stimulating environment of a local
fair, just don t take them, Matlen
Before a tantrum ever starts,
Matlen suggested talking to your
child about the negative conse-
quences of bad behaviours. She
gave this example: "If you scream
and cry when I turn off the TV,
you won t be able to watch it later
Matlen took this approach when
her daughter was five years old.
She tended to have tantrums when
she didn t get a new toy at the store.
"Before our next outing, I told
her that if she had a tantrum, I
would simply pick her up and take
her home. No toys and no more
visits to the store for a very long
Her daughter still had a melt-
down. But instead of getting furious
or frustrated, Matlen picked up her
daughter and took her to the car.
She drove home without saying a
word. And it never happened again.
"This, of course, may not work
for all children, but it s an example
of planning ahead and having an
outcome that everyone under-
Talk to your child,
them to talk back
Talk calmly and quietly to your
child, and acknowledge their feel-
ings, Matlen said.
Doing so helps your child feel
heard, Sarkis said.
For instance, according to
Matlen, you might say, "I know
you re angry that I won t buy you
that toy today. It feels frustrating
and it makes you feel like exploding
inside, doesn t it?"
Then, encourage your
child to express their
emotions, as well: "I d be
awfully upset too if I
couldn t get what I want-
ed right now---let s talk
about why this is so
important to you so you
can help me to under-
on Page B24
Thursday, May 16, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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Tips to tame tantrums from ADHD children
In kids with
ways. Kids can
into the street or
student in line at
Knowing what triggers
your child, Matlen said,
can help you defuse
their tantrum as early as
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