Children with ADHD feel emotions very differently to other kids and these intense emotional experiences mean that mood swings are far more common for them. An ADHD child’s moods can change at the drop of a hat too, which means that parents and teachers are often left wondering what happened and unsure of how to deal with the situation.
Understanding the emotions that accompany ADHD
Every child will be moody or throw a tantrum many times during their childhood and teen years but they can get control of their emotions far more easily than a child with ADHD. For example, a simple situation such as knocking over a glass of juice certainly won’t alter the day of a child without ADHD.
A child with ADHD will feel emotions such as anxiety, anger, and frustration much more intensely than other kids and because they also have trouble controlling their emotions, a small issue can feel like a much larger problem.
For example, a child with ADHD who is attending an awards ceremony at school may have performed really well and received an award but because it wasn’t what they were expecting, they may become upset and stay upset long after the event. A peer that congratulates them on the award may come across as sarcastic in their eyes too, making them feel even worse.
Tips for helping a child with ADHD mood swings
When a child or teenager experiences severe mood swings, it can end up affecting your entire household. Below are 5 tips that will help you better manage your child’s ADHD mood swings:
- Avoid an overreaction. When you react to an outburst too quickly or with too much emotion, the situation becomes even harder to control and resolve. When a child is angry or anxious, they won’t be too willing to hear what you have to say so it may even be a good idea for them to vent a little, as long as it doesn’t get out of hand.
- Show some empathy. Your child needs to hear that it’s ok for them to feel what they’re feeling and that talking about it will help them feel better. Find out what may have caused their reaction and tell them that you would be feeling the same if it happened to you. If your child doesn’t want to speak then it’s best to leave them be until they are ready.
- Speak about your observations. In order to avoid outbursts in the future, tell your child when you can see that their mood is changing and find out whether there is anything you can do to help them work through what they’re feeling. Remember to say it in a calm and uncritical way.
- Discuss the effects of their actions. Very often a child or teenager isn’t aware of how their outbursts and behavior is affecting other people. You can speak to your child about the ramifications of their actions while still showing empathy and helping them work through it.
- Revaluate their medication. It is possible that your child’s ADHD medication is to blame for their current mood swings. Speak to your doctor about whether this could be a possibility and if there are alternatives that you can consider.
As the parent of an ADHD child, it’s important to keep an eye on your child’s emotions and mood swings as they are at a higher risk of developing depression. If their mood swings are getting out of hand or are becoming more frequent, it may be helpful to speak to a professional.
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