Anger in ADHD Kids

Does this sound familiar? Your six year old responds to you defiantly and quickly spirals downward into a full blown angry tantrum that goes on for the rest of the day. You discipline him and all that seems to do is make the anger more intense. And the next morning he wakes up still angry and mean.

Or maybe its your 14 year old who is showing anger and being mean to get back at you. The anger seems to come out of nowhere and disrespect just seems to become worse and worse.

Some ADHD kids get so angry that they may pound holes in the walls or damage things around the house. It may get so bad that you feel like you, the child or both of you need to be in counseling to get a handle on it.

Let's take a look at some of the causes of anger in children with ADHD and some of the steps you can take to reduce and maybe even eliminate the out of control, angry behavior that some of these kids exhibit.

Why ADHD Kids Get So Angry

Not all ADHD children have anger problems. However, when they are angry, it is usually extremely intense. Most of these children feel everything intensely. They seem to experience life very deeply. The same is true with their anger.

What leads to this anger? Many things, both internal (blood sugar levels, genetics, sleep, depression) as well as external (relationships, schoolwork, video game playing, drug use) can lead to anger in children.


Anger is one of the frequent symptoms of depression. If you have no idea why your child is angry, and none of the other explanations we discuss here, a visit to their doctor or a psychologist is probably the next step. Depression that is not addressed can often lead to more serious issues down the road.

Video Game Playing

Many parents are surprised to see this listed as a cause. Not all children will become angry after playing video games. But some absolutely have a personality change and an increase in anger and hostility after playing video games, and it doesn't have to be several hours of playing.

Children who become hyper focused while playing these games have been shown to shut down the social part of the brain. They may begin treating others with contempt, show increased disrespect to their parents and even become violent. Some parents have found that taking their children off video games for a week or two will transform the child's personality for the better.

Blood Sugar Levels

This is a big one that is not well understood. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can lead to some incredible mood swings in young children with ADHD. Some of these children will throw huge tantrums. And some of these young children will become teenagers with extreme anger problems.

The frustrating thing about it is they seem to have no self control when their blood sugar drops. Providing food for them when this happens can very quickly bring an end to the anger. However, not just any food will help. Some feel the best thing is peanut butter and raisins on whole wheat bread. The combination of fat and natural sugar seems to balance things out quickly.

For many, this anger problem continues into the adult years. Dr. Phil Bates has an excellent explanation of the relationship between blood sugar and anger on his website.

There are some foods that will actually cause this blood sugar problem in your child that should be avoided. Sugar and starchy foods like pasta can cause major problems. All kids like pizza, but the sweet sauce combined with a white dough crust can really play havoc on one's blood sugar levels.

Keep in mind that most ADHD children will not have this issue. However, if you notice that your child's mood changes and anger increases when they are hungry, give this a try. Some children have been misdiagnosed as having ADHD, when the issues are really related to how their bodies metabolize sugar.

Use of Drugs, Alcohol, or Pornography

Drug and alcohol use have long been known to lead to angry, disconnected behavior in teenagers. Teenagers with ADHD are even more prone to substance abuse and if you see unexplained anger in your child, be sure to consider that this may be the problem.

In recent years pornography has become a major problem. If a boy is viewing pornography regularly, it will lead to disconnecting from healthy relationships and he will often exhibit angry behavior that just makes no sense.

The relationship between ADHD children and anger is usually hard to understand. These are some of the things that parents need to be aware of as they try to sort out what is leading to the behavior they are seeing in their children. I encourage you to seek professional help when you see long term anger in your child. The rewards will be worth it.

You may also be interested in:
How to Deal with ADHD Kids
Nutritional Supplements for Hyperactivity
Understanding the Relationship Between Food and ADHD