Maybe I am pulling for it by writing these blogs about anger (see last two blog posts: https://shutdownlearner.com/blog), but lately I’ve had a run of angry kids.
While the content varies in terms of the specifics of each case, there are commonalities:
1) The kid avoids school work for a variety of reasons.
2) At some point there is a clampdown on the kid in the form of a punishment of some kind.
3) Anger and resentment increase. The anger reservoir enlarges.
4) The kid becomes more avoidant while the parent(s) get increasingly frustrated.
5) More clampdowns.
6) More anger
7) Etc., etc., etc…
(This becomes like the number “pi” – it goes on and on.)
It’s not a pretty picture.
Here are a few pointers to try and deal with the increasing River of Anger that lies just below the ADHD Swamp.
1) Even if the child is not telling you directly, assume that the kid is feeling some level of anger.
2) When appropriate (such as in the car when alone with child), take a guess, something like, “I bet you’re angry with me, right?” (Make sure the tone that you are asking is more curious and not with a hostile edge that puts the kid on the defensive.)
3) If kid nods, you’re on to something. If kid gets defensive, you’re playing a wrong chord (see point above about hostile edge).
4) After nodding, get curious. “Wow… I didn’t know…tell me more.”
5) Maybe take one more guess. Usually kids think you’re being unfair about something… “You think I’m unfair, right?”
6) As kid elaborates, say something like, “O.K., I understand. I could see why you are angry.” (As an aside, it does not mean you necessarily agree why the child is angry.)
7) If kid is on a roll, let him keep going.
8) At the end of it, try saying something like, “Ok, I get why you’re angry. I’ve been angry too about how school work is going. How about you and I come up with a plan that we both can live with.” Work on a putting together a plan cooperatively.
Please understand, I am not suggesting a “democratic style” household by putting the child in charge or anything like that. I am simply suggesting that the anger is a huge variable that clogs up the engine. Unless the anger gets some release, the engine doesn’t run well, especially if there are other issues such as ADHD, LD, dyslexia, etc..
Taking guesses as to why you believe the child is angry and turning down the heat are great first steps.
Take Away Point
Get the anger.
(In next blog, I will talk about what happens when kid doesn’t live up to his end of the plan.)