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17 Practical Strategies to Manage ADHD and Aggressive Behavior in Children

17 Practical Strategies to Manage ADHD and Aggressive Behavior in Children
Picture of Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

The relationship between Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and aggressive behavior is complex and multifaceted. While not all individuals with ADHD exhibit aggressive behavior, evidence suggests a higher prevalence of aggressive tendencies among children and teens with ADHD compared to their peers without the disorder (Retz & Rösler, 2009).

So, what leads to aggressive behavior in kids with ADHD? Well, there are common triggers, such as frustration, boredom, sensory overload, or even video game obsession. Yes, you read that right. Even pixels can push your child's buttons.

Effective Strategies for Managing Defiant Behavior in Children with ADHD

Don’t panic if your ADHD child seems too aggressive. There are strategies aimed at helping them regain control and find their inner calm. All you need to do is to master these strategies and apply them consistently. 

Strategy #1: Create a Structured Environment for Children with ADHD

Creating a structured environment is a good way to help ADHD children put their lives back on track. Set routines, clear schedules, and minimal distractions will make your child’s life so much easier.

Strategy #2: Implement Positive Reinforcement Techniques

Sprinkle some positivity on the situation. Positive reinforcement is your secret weapon. Reward good behavior and achievements, no matter how small. Such a reward system works even on young children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Do it without fail and you can practically watch their hostile behaviors start to fade away.

Strategy #3: Develop a Behavior Management Plan

Developing a behavior management plan will immensely guide you on this journey. It will help you stay on the right path even when things get bumpy. The behavior management plan should be tailored to your child's needs and should be regularly reviewed and updated. It should be based on the positive reinforcement approach and focus on teaching appropriate behavior instead of punishing negative behavior.

Strategy #4: Establish Clear Rules and Consequences

“Because I said so” doesn't cut it when dealing with kids with issues looking to authority figures. Establish clear rules and consequences so that your child knows what to expect. Remember that an ADHD child learns better with consistency. Consistency in the environment and reinforcement of desired behaviors can aid in managing behaviors associated with these complex disorders.

Strategy #5: Teach Self-Regulation and Coping Skills

It's time to empower your child to become their own champion. Self-regulation and coping skills are essential tools they'll carry through life. Deep breaths, identifying feelings, and finding constructive outlets for anger are skills that can help your child navigate the stormy seas of ADHD, peer rejection, and anger issues. Ultimately, they need a toolkit for managing uncomfortable sensations, thoughts, and feelings. 

Strategy #6 Practice Better Communication 

As parents of children with ADHD, we've all been locked in a battle of wills with our tiny (or not-so-tiny) rebels. However, effective communication can disarm even the most defiant behavior. Learn to speak their language, so they can “hear” you without feeling so criticized, and watch those walls crumble.

Strategy #7: Regular Exercise and Physical Activity

Encourage your child to engage in regular physical activities. Exercise can help release built-up tension and excess energy, which eventually reduces impulsivity and aggression. Activities like swimming, yoga, martial arts, or team sports are beneficial in teaching self-discipline and promoting emotional regulation.

Effective communication can disarm even the most defiiiirriofgvduig

 

Strategy #8: Maintain Healthy Diet and Nutrition

A balanced diet plays a significant role in managing the symptoms of ADHD among aggressive children. Ensure your child's diet includes essential nutrients. Magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like salmon and flaxseeds have been linked to improved brain health and mood regulation (Slutsky et al., 2010). Minimize sugar and processed foods, which can exacerbate mood disorders and impulsive behaviors.

Strategy #9: Master Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

Teach your child mindfulness and relaxation techniques to help them cope with intense emotions and reduce impulsive aggression. Deep breathing exercises, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation can be effective tools for self-soothing and calming the mind.

Strategy #10: Improve Time Management and Organization Skills

Children with ADHD often struggle with time management and organization. Teach them practical skills such as using planners, setting reminders, and breaking tasks into smaller, manageable steps. 

A structured approach to daily activities can reduce frustration and the likelihood of angry outbursts. Furthermore, it is known to improve the academic performance of most school-age children (Abikoff et al., 2009).

Strategy #11: Limit Screen Time

Too much screen time, especially on video games or other stimulating digital media, can worsen ADHD symptoms and increase the risk of aggression. Establish clear rules and limits for screen time, and encourage alternative activities that promote focus and creativity.

Strategy #12: Promote Positive Peer Interactions

Encourage your child to build positive relationships with peers who can provide social support and model appropriate behaviors. Engaging in activities like group therapy, sports teams, or social clubs can help kids with ADHD develop essential social skills while reducing feelings of isolation.

You want to make sure your child has the right skills to navigate socially. Role-playing before social interactions can be very helpful in building skills and confidence. 

Strategy #13: Create a Safe Space for Expression

Give your child a safe space to express their feelings without judgment. Encourage open communication and active listening. When they feel heard and understood, they may be less inclined to resort to aggressive behavior to express their frustrations.

Strategy #14: Follow a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Adequate sleep is crucial for children with ADHD. Ensure your child maintains a consistent sleep schedule. Sleep deprivation can exacerbate symptoms of inattention, impulsivity, and aggression. Establish bedtime routines to promote healthy sleep habits.

Strategy #15: Consider Natural Solutions to ADHD

natural solutions for adhd

 

Incorporating science-backed natural solutions into the mix can be a game-changer when dealing with ADHD and aggressive behavior. Neurofeedback, PEMF, and magnesium supplements are known to calm the aggression associated with ADHD kids.  It is all about calming the brain, so your child can be more mentally available for listening and learning. 

Strategy #16: Join Support Groups

Connect with support groups that specialize in ADHD and aggressive behavior. These professionals can provide guidance, advice, and emotional support for both you and your child as you navigate this journey. Some even provide specialized parental training.

Strategy #17 Seek Professional Help and Support

Never be afraid to reach out to mental health professionals, such as a clinical psychologist, for help and support. At times, even the most tenacious individuals seek support. Whether it's behavioral therapy, medication, or expert guidance, you won’t regret seeking assistance to address ADHD and behavior problems head-on.

The BrainBehaviorResetTM Program is a comprehensive, step-by-step process that starts with a thorough assessment of your child's needs. Your child’s unique strengths and challenges are considered when creating their personalized treatment plan, which won’t include stimulant medications and their side effects.

They will be guided through a series of interventions and effective treatments combining the best of what science offers with natural and holistic approaches. Consistency, positive reinforcement, parent training, and open communication are emphasized throughout the program.Remember that each child is unique, and what works best may vary from one individual to another. The first step is to tailor these strategies to your child's needs. Then consult with healthcare professionals and therapists for personalized guidance in managing ADHD and reducing aggressive behavior. With patience and a holistic approach, you can help your child thrive and rise above these behavioral problems.

Parent Action Steps

☐ Create routines and schedules to provide a sense of stability.
☐ Practice positive reinforcement.
☐ Set clear expectations and consequences for behavior.
☐ Teach your child self-regulation and coping skills.
☐ Improve communication with your child by actively listening.
☐ Encourage regular exercise and physical activity.
☐ Make dietary modifications.
☐ Introduce mindfulness and relaxation techniques.
☐ Limit screen time and promote alternative activities.
☐ Foster positive peer interactions.
☐ Create a calming and sensory-friendly environment for your child.
☐ Ensure your child maintains a consistent sleep schedule.
☐ Connect with support groups and therapists.
☐ Take this ADHD Quiz to know for sure if your child has ADHD.
☐ Use the Solutions Matcher to get personalized treatment for your child. 

 

Citations

Abikoff, H., Nissley-Tsiopinis, J., Gallagher, R., Zambenedetti, M., Seyffert, M., Boorady, R., & McCarthy, J. (2009). Effects of MPH-OROS on the Organizational, Time Management, and Planning Behaviors of Children With ADHD. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 48(2), 166–175. https://doi.org/10.1097/chi.0b013e3181930626

Retz, W., & Rösler, M. (2009). The relation of ADHD and violent aggression: What can we learn from epidemiological and genetic studies? International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 32(4), 235–243. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijlp.2009.04.006

Slutsky, I., Abumaria, N., Wu, L.-J., Huang, C., Zhang, L., Li, B., Zhao, X., Govindarajan, A., Zhao, M.-G., Zhuo, M., Tonegawa, S., & Liu, G. (2010). Enhancement of Learning and Memory by Elevating Brain Magnesium. Neuron, 65(2), 165–177. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2009.12.026

Always remember… “Calm Brain, Happy Family™”

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to give health advice and it is recommended to consult with a physician before beginning any new wellness regime. *The effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment vary by patient and condition. Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, LLC does not guarantee certain results.

Are you looking for SOLUTIONS for your struggling child or teen? 

Dr. Roseann and her team are all about science-backed solutions, so you are in the right place! 

Grab your complimentary copy of
147 Therapist-Endorsed Self-Regulation Strategies for Children: A Practical Guide for Parents

You can get her books for parents and professionals, including: It’s Gonna Be OK™: Proven Ways to Improve Your Child’s Mental Health, Teletherapy Toolkit™ and Brain Under Attack: A Resource For Parents and Caregivers of Children With PANS, PANDAS, and Autoimmune Encephalopathy.

If you are a business or organization that needs proactive guidance to support employee mental health or an organization looking for a brand representative, check out Dr. Roseann’s professional speaking page to see how we can work together.

Dr. Roseann is a Children’s Mental Health Expert and Therapist who has been featured in/on hundreds of  media outlets including, CBS, NBC, FOX News, PIX11 NYC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Business Insider, USA Today, CNET, Marth Stewart, and PARENTS. FORBES called her, “A thought leader in children’s mental health.”

Dr. Roseann - Brain Behavior Reset Parent Toolkit

She is the founder and director of The Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health and Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, LLC. Dr. Roseann is a Board Certified Neurofeedback (BCN) Practitioner, a Board Member of the Northeast Region Biofeedback Society (NRBS), Certified Integrative Mental Health Professional (CIMHP) and an Amen Clinic Certified Brain Health Coach.  She is also a member of The International Lyme Disease and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), The American Psychological Association (APA), Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR) and The Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB).

© Roseann-Capanna-Hodge, LLC 2023

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