Kids do well if they can: Dealing with angry, aggressive and explosive kids

Often parents and teachers ask me about readings, videos and other materials that might help with their child who has anger management problems. Well, it's difficult to make one or two suggestions because kids who have anger problems, are explosive, fight, act-out and disrupt can be doing it for a number of reasons. One child may have a mood disorder, another may have an executive function deficit, another may have sensory issues and yet another is responding to cumulative failures due to learning disabilities, ADHD and other causes. So, not every difficult child should get the same treatment, either at home or at school. This is especially true for children with ADHD. Kids with ADHD are very likely to have a co-morbid disorder, something going on besides ADHD. And just treating the ADHD with medication isn't going to solve all the problems. So, start with  real diagnosis. Not just a simple 15 minute office interview where the parents and teacher fill out a form (usually the SNAP-IV) that only asks about ADHD and was given because even before we started looking at things we had made a decision it was ADHD. No, start with a good diagnostic assessment by a psychologist, either a school psychologist or a registered psychologist. That's important to rule out learning disabilities, personality disorders or mood disorders (depression or anxiety). From there you will be ready to move on.

But if you are a parent with an aggressive, acting out child you might start by reading two books. First, Dr. Russell Barkley has an excellent book on parenting skills called The Defiant Child. A great book that will set you on the path to being a behaviour expert. ( He also has one called The Defiant Teen).  Barkley's book is a guide to behavioural interventions, and if your having these kinds of problems, you need this book.  Oh, and watch "Super Nanny" too. She's not always right, but she's right enough of the time, and you'll see, managing a difficult child isn't easy for ANYONE.

The second book I would recommend is from Dr. Green called The Explosive Child. This book is a very, very different take on child management. It might be hard to think of using them together, but if you can, your doing everything right you can do.  Dr. Green has a simple philosophy, "Kid's do well if they can." Remember that. Kids do do well if they can, and most of the kids I've seen over the past 25 years who were not doing well knew it and felt awful.... they just couldn't help themselves. Greens program is called "Collaborative Problem Solving" and I think it's the goal everyone should be working on. Teaching your child to deal with problems by engaging with others. Green has a really great web site, and here is a place to start:

Watch these videos. Get the books.

People often ask me why I am so willing to share materials? I have a fairly well stocked library of books and DVDs for parents. They think that if I suggest a self-help book you'll use that and ...well, what happens to my practice? Just watch an episode of Super Nanny and you'll see. These skills and techniques are easy to write down, but hard to implement. I'm here to help you, answer questions, walk you through the skills, role play and practice. When your ready for some parent training or coaching, take a look at my web site and give me a call. I can be found at

Now go to the book store or library and get these materials!
Posted on August 9, 2011 and filed under "ADHD", "Psychologist", "anger", "behaviour", "child therapy", "explosive child".