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Handling Inappropriate Anger Outbursts in 6-Year-Old


My son is 6 years old and was diagnosed with ADHD last year. When he gets angry, he will scream statements like “I hate you,” “I want to be killed” and “I want to be dead.” I have told him that these are not nice things to say. I think he has picked these words up from watching cartoons. How do I handle this situation?


Anger is a normal feeling. We all get angry. How we express our anger can either be helpful or harmful to others and ourselves. Assure your son that being upset is fine. However, when he experiences anger he should say, “I am MAD!” Those are the only words he is allowed to say. Then after he says those words, offer him options. He can go to his room to calm down, or he can “blow out his birthday candles.” (Hold up six fingers, take a big breath, blow on a finger and fold it down; repeat with all six fingers.) Or he can rock in a rocking chair until he can speak without yelling. There are many options. 

As his mother, you can best determine what will work for your son. You also know when he is starting to get upset. You can tell by his voice tone and body language.  That is when you can prompt him to use one of his “calming techniques” that you have taught him.

This is called Preventive Teaching. It teaches children what they need to know and affords them opportunities to practice the new skills. The three specific parenting steps in Preventive Teaching are: 1. Describe what you would like him to do; 2. Give a good “kid” reason for doing it that way; 3. Practice what you have just taught him.

While this can work for many skills, right now you should focus on his angry outbursts and teaching him an alternative to what he is currently doing.

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