How I Handle My Child's ADHD Tantrums (Almost) Like a Pro

March 3, 2021 Sarah Sharp

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder tantrums -- they're loud, unnerving, embarrassing, and make me question myself as a parent. They come with the territory of raising a child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and although they aren't the most fun part of my day, I've found ways to deal with them without sacrificing my sanity (for the most part). I've also learned to understand why my son throws tantrums and where his ADHD comes into play. This understanding has given me clues to how to handle the situation and move forward.

I'll be honest, though: I don't always handle my little boy's tantrums gracefully, just like I don't always handle his ADHD in general gracefully. I've been known to yell, threaten, and give in when I shouldn't. That being said, I've also learned a few techniques for how to handle my child's ADHD tantrums, and I think they're worth sharing.

Why Children with ADHD Throw Tantrums

Okay, I can't necessarily tell you why all children with ADHD throw tantrums, but I can tell you why mine does:

  • He's frustrated. Because of his ADHD, my child gets frustrated easily and loses control of his emotions quickly. When this happens, there's a good chance that a tantrum is brewing.
  • He's going through something. I know when I'm going through something, I'm prone to acting out, so I can imagine how difficult it can be for a child with ADHD to keep his cool when life feels rough.
  • He's feeding off of me. I have my own mental health problems to contend with, too. When I'm really struggling, my child feels it as acutely as he does his own distress, and it shows in the form of ADHD tantrums.
  • He's overstimulated. My child's ADHD makes him sensitive to too much stimulation. After a while, he gets tired, his brain gets tired, and he just needs to chill. If he gets overstimulated, an ADHD tantrum will probably follow.
  • He feels anxious. I know that sometimes when my kid feels nervous, it makes him act overly hyper, so I suspect that anxiety might be responsible for his ADHD tantrums, too.

Just like any other mental illness, my child's ADHD is aggravated by stress. When his stress levels get too high, he throws tantrums. Luckily, there are things I can do to troubleshoot the situation, or at least do a little damage control.

What I Do When Faced with an ADHD Tantrum

As I said, I don't always handle my child's ADHD tantrums like a pro, but when I do, here are a few actions I take that help my little boy calm down:

  • I encourage him to take deep breaths. He resists this one, but I keep trying in the hope he'll one day try it by himself and realize what an effective coping strategy it really is.
  • I help him when he gets frustrated trying to do something. Whether I do the activity with him or just give him a little extra guidance, some assistance on my part can go a long way towards avoiding an ADHD tantrum.
  • I hold him. Touching my little boy and letting him know how much I love him, even when he's screaming and flailing on his bed, helps him feel secure and calm again, and all I have to do is be there.
  • I leave him alone. On the other hand, sometimes, my son needs to be left alone with his ADHD tantrums. After all, at some point in his life, he'll need to know how to soothe himself.

I don't know if these strategies are right or wrong. I don't think that's particularly relevant. What matters is they work for us.

Tantrums Are Normal, ADHD Just Makes Them a Little Worse

On days when it seems like my child has spent most of his morning and afternoon melting down over one mini-crisis or another, I start to wonder if that's normal. I start to think maybe no other kid acts as mine does, and no other parent feels like I do. That's simply not true, though. All children throw tantrums, and all parents get fed up with them. ADHD can just make the whole scenario feel a little more difficult.

Does your child throw ADHD tantrums? Do you know why? What do you do when that happens? Let's talk in the comments.

APA Reference
Sharp, S. (2021, March 3). How I Handle My Child's ADHD Tantrums (Almost) Like a Pro, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Sarah Sharp

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