Student with ADHD tendencies and anger difficulties

Discussion in 'Kindergarten' started by KindergartenMSea, Dec 20, 2019.

  1. KindergartenMSea

    KindergartenMSea New Member

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    Dec 20, 2019

    I teach in an urban school and have a student ADHD tendencies and anger difficulties. He is constantly blurting out and getting out of his seat and as of recently wants to get up in peoples faces when they don't do what he wants or they say something to him to set him off. He yells and can not get control. I have tried a calm down corner, but it becomes similar to a reward area and I do not want to reward the behavior, but I want to find a way to help diffuse his anger. Myself having a sister with similar tendencies I know that it is very hard to let go of things when they feel wronged or get upset. Any ideas on how to help him learn to diffuse his anger or to create a more effective cool down area or procedures? He is already meeting with the school counselor for these tendencies.
     
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  3. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Dec 21, 2019

    I know I'm in the minority, but personally I view AD(H)D as a normal and productive brain condition. AD(H)D doesn't equal misbehavior: all kids need to learn to behave. A hyperactive child's misbehavior just differs from other students.

    I might recommend that the student is imitating his home environment. Another possibility is that he's experiencing some success (in his mind) in his peer associations by blurting out angrily in their faces. He also might still be developing in his vocal interactions with a peer, still somewhat at the telling stage and still developing in the listening and conversing stage. Once the brain chemicals kick in, it's hard for him to reverse out of the angry manifestations. I'd recommend continuing the time out procedure, even if he views it as a reward; it's rewarding his cooling down and it's teaching him that he can cool down. I'd recommend a couple of ideas for teaching proper peer relations when he feels angry.

    I like to instruct students that anger is a natural alarm system we all experience. This alarm alerts us that we feel uncomfortable about a situation. The goal then is to explore and find a way to resolve the conflict. When two students are arguing, I ask them to explain their feelings and ideas to each other by speaking softly and not touching each other in a mean way, to try to find a solution they both agree on or an alternative action they both agree on. I also emphasize that it's OK to have to give up and not get one's way or it's OK to compromise. I either act as the mediator, but with older kids, and I see this working with Kindergarten, too, I often ask the kids to sit apart from the rest of the class for a few minutes to have their discussion.

    Another idea might be role playing. Caution is needed for this at the Kindergarten stage, since role playing can reverse into reality, but practicing appropriate behaviors can, in a real situation, change the end result of the same brain chemicals that caused the anger since these same chemicals also result in more positive reactions and more comfortable emotions.
     
  4. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Dec 22, 2019

    I can appreciate this perspective, but "normal" means most, or at last many, kids experience it, which they don't. "Productive" I'd also question?
     
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  5. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Dec 22, 2019

    Whenever you have a situation that's somewhat out of control, as in things are just not working, I usually suggest starting off by increasing the intervals of reinforcement, and becoming much more targeted/specific with the behaviors you're reinforcing.

    In terms of the intervals comment, what I mean: Instead of reinforcement happening on a daily/weekly basis, move it down to hourly or even smaller increments (if reinforcing for time exhibiting good behavior), or smaller numbers of behavior (e.g., 4x doing the right thing) - depending on what behaviors you're working on.

    In terms of specific behaviors, start with 1-2 behaviors to build success, and make them achievable given what he's currently doing. The main idea here is to build success, so pick behaviors & behavioral goals that are easy to achieve the start off, then gradually increase the expectations, goals, behavioral difficulty, etc.

    The biggest strategy category of ADHD that tends to be helpful to essentially become his "surrogate frontal lobe," meaning that the things other kids his age might be able to do independently (e.g., self-redirect back on task, self-cue prosocial skills), you might have to do more frequently for him. This can be a second-to-second kind of thing, so the idea that you'd give instructions at the beginning of the lesson and expect him to follow it for 20 minutes might be too much.

    With the aggression piece, I'd suggest thinking about it structurally from two perspectives: First, kids with ADHD are impulsive - not just with behaviors, but with emotions. So, he'll go "0-60" with emotional arousal (e.g., anger, frustration), which presents unique challenges. The previous strategies would tie in here (providing external cueing, shorter periods of reinforcement, etc.). The second structural perspective would be to consider if he weren't emotionally impulsive - if he were to take time and think, what skills or skill deficits would still be present? Strategies in this area are largely the same as they would be for other kids - teach social skills explicitly, prompt & reinforce in the everyday environment, etc.

    Finally, for day-to-day tips & tricks, I've actually found the online lists (e.g., "10 helpful tricks for students with ADHD") to generally be pretty good, as they tend to concentrate on structuring the classroom environment for more minute-to-minute support related to executive skills.

    If it's helpful, maybe try a few things and post back how they work!
     
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  6. Surviving the Classroom

    Surviving the Classroom Rookie

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    Dec 22, 2019

    He is constantly blurting out- If your student is blurting out in an effort to participate, this is partially good because at minimum, he wants to contribute his ideas to his audience. However, in order for him to do this effectively, you'd have to explicitly teach him how and when to do this. This skill can be taught (and reviewed) as a whole class (with good and bad examples) and during one-to-one sessions with you or his counselor. Once it's time for those skills to be modeled in real time, I would frequently praise all students who are modeling the behavior correctly, "Thank you so much Sasha for raising your hand to ask a question". When the behavior is not modeled correctly, you would first have a few sessions where you are redirecting and allowing room for your student to correct his error. It will be new and make take a bit of time for him to adjust, so some error in the beginning stages is likely. How you correct is also important. You want to make the student feel like you are patient with him and the process. Things such as, "Jason, I loooooove how you are trying to participate in class, but what would help Ms. KindergartenMSea know that you want to share your answer?" (or something like this.). You can say this while pointing to your raised hand in the air if he would need a visual prompt. You can easily ask the class as a whole too so as not to single out the student. If your student is blurting out and the content of his words has nothing to do with the context of the lesson, this could be attention seeking behavior. If this is the case, you would need to assess several things in the classroom environment that could be contributing to the problem. Is he bored? Is the work to challenging? Is the work too easy? Is the length of the lesson too long? Sometime the type of lesson and materials may need to vary frequently to help stimulate his brain in ways to decrease his impulsivity. You may even want to find a small role/job to administer to your student during instruction in an effort to give him something structured and applicable to the lesson to do. Again, as with the previous example of blurting out, you want to still explicitly teach how to "blurt out" aka appropriately speak during instruction. Once you have explicitly taught the how and practiced with error correction from you, you want to fade out the level of support you provide. Why? At some point you want the student to demonstrate mastery. You correct more frequently in the beginning when teaching the new skill, then over time you start to place his "blurting out" behavior on something called extinction. Essentially you start to ignore the behavior when modeled inappropriately and only praise/reinforce/reward the behavior when modeled appropriately. You should not jump to this stage until the student has demonstrated a solid understanding of how and what to model appropriately first.


    He is getting out of his seat - Diagnosing the why he is getting out of his seat will help you best know how to address it. Is he trying to escape doing work? Has he been sitting during instruction for a lengthly period of time? Teach him (similar to above) and practice how to ask for a break. Incorporate short breaks during long lessons. Offer stations that rotate at a specific frequency.


    He wants to get up in peoples faces when they don't do what he wants or they say something to him to set him off. He yells and can not get control. - Read social stories in class (or one-to-one with you or the counselor) about making and maintaining friendships, accepting no, coping strategies to deal with uncomfortable emotions, how to identify triggers, how to communicate with others when sad/angry/etc. Allow him room to practice in real time and provide positive feedback and error correction.



    I have tried a calm down corner, but it becomes similar to a reward area and I do not want to reward the behavior. - You have to be careful when using this because it can turn into an reinforcement or reward for escape behavior. If a kid yells, screams, etc, and you send them right to the calm down area, they can learn that every time they repeat the behavior they can go to the calm down area. You have to create specific criteria for yourself as to how and when you should use this space and stick to it. It's ok to take a moment to gather yourself, but your student should be also working to problem solve his way through the difficult situation is he escaping from. How long is he calming down for in this area? The shorter the better. Once calm, he should always come back and work through the challenging problem. If he doesn't he'll never learn to problem solve through tough situations. If you have noticed this calm down area has become a reward, you might want to tweak how and when you use this with him.

    Teach him other techniques to cool off outside of the calm down area. Collaborate with the counselor (or school social worker on how to do this).

    He is already meeting with the school counselor for these tendencies.
    - See if the counselor can help him implement the strategies she working on with him during your instruction. Sometimes kids perfect a skill in isolation, but often do not know how to generalize it.
     
  7. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Dec 23, 2019

    Good point, and I also must agree that your opinion is the current scientific consensus. Statistically, AD(H)D is not normal, but in my post, I was speaking colloquially. Statistically, teachers are a minority of the entire population, yet one would certainly not refer to teachers as abnormal. (Well, perhaps some high school teenagers might, but that's another story).

    I follow the idea that adaptively, some brains are AD(H)D. Perhaps in earlier societies, this was more needful for the entire society's success in thriving. Personally, I see this type of brain as needful today, although today's modern society is quite different than any previous society in history. The Super Bowl's coming up, and sports is a predominant activity in modern society. Many churches will alter their Sunday schedule to match the Super Bowl's telecast, many people will alter their Sunday plans to watch the game and even enjoy Super Bowl parties, and stores are certainly gearing their advertising toward the Super Bowl. Many athletes' abilities are enhanced by the AD(H)D. Professions that require some risk taking, important professions including people entrusted with others safety, are benefitted by people with AD(H)D; some AD(H)D brains feel calmer during a situation involving some risk. Some AD(H)D brains develop strong creative abilities. In music, especially modern forms of music, another AD(H)D trait, impulsivity, is beneficial. For me, my playing the piano, and writing and arranging songs, relies heavily on creativity, impulsiveness (especially in improvisational music), and risk taking (again, in improvisation, almost always I suddenly add an improvisation that I don't recall ever practicing but fits the moment perfectly); my AD(H)D, I feel, is strongly responsible for this. Surely non-AD(H)D brains are also capable of all of the above, but the AD(H)D brain does have the advantage.

    There are disadvantages, too. Not only are the traits advantageous, they are also dis-advantageous. Impulsivity, risk taking, creativity, difficulty completing a task, daydreaming, etc. can also be nonproductive. But again, this is also true about any brain. All brains need to learn, in their own way, how to differentiate between productive and nonproductive behavior, between socially acceptable and socially unacceptable behavior, and the list could go on. In fact, I'm not sure there is such a thing as a statistically normal brain.

    All brains are different. All brains are valuable, too. We need differentiation in brains. How dreadful it would be if all brains were the same, kind of like computers. This is why human society's brains are much better than any collection of computers. After all, it was our brains that designed the computers in the first place.

    I wrote a lot, and I do have a fear that I might be perceived as responding angrily or harshly, and that is not the case at all. I appreciate your suggestion, and I appreciate any scientific disagreements with my personal opinion. I do have a concern about the current perception of AD(H)D students and how this might affect their academic and social development. I do agree that medication is beneficial; (then again, I do agree that some folks need a dose of coffee in the morning, too). I personally believe that we need to see more the potential in an AD(H)D student and all students and teach them positively, (which again, I'm sure you and many if not all of the other teachers on this forum are doing).
     
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  8. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Dec 23, 2019

    Did not at all come across angrily or harshly! Thanks actually for expounding on your thoughts, and a lot of them resonate with me.

    When I talk with kids about ADHD or impulsivity (usually without using those terms), I often talk about brains are different, and different brains have different advantages, but also things people need to work harder with. I usually start off with a general conversation about examples of different advantages & disadvantages of different kinds of brains, then move into strengths of that particular child's brain, then on to how those strengths sometimes have limitations. The metaphor is not without limitations, but I sometimes talk about a very cool dog that needs a leash, but is sometimes allowed to run free if in the woods, backyard, or dog park. Similarly, everyone has different attributes that are beautiful and productive, but most of those strengths have limitations or problems if left unchecked. Think about the overly meticulous person who never allows himself to be creative or spontaneous.

    So, totally: I'm with you, and I think there are certainly positive elements to impulsivity. We all need to learn how we individually operate, and how best to manage ourselves so we can unleash our full potential.
     
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  9. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Good discussions here.

    I'd also add the issue that in studies, it seems that having ADHD is the single worst factor affecting learning.

    Not that we don't have many, many ADHD success stories. But we also have individuals with ADHD fighting addictions, unhealthy relationships, etc., largely because of their ADHD.

    I'm not saying this to doom your student to ADHD failure, and I also agree with Obadiah that ADHD is at the end of the day just another brain setup. I am saying it to highlight just how difficult the classroom can be for the ADHD student. With all our talk of ways to help the ADHD student, I daresay more times than not the two are just not ideally compatible no matter what you do.

    My current belief is that while making reasonable accommodations for the ADHD student, the best bang for your buck is just to more fervently teach and practices appropriate skills. Hopefully, the ADHD student's family are also working with appropriate help to learn strategies on their end.
     

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