Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

adhd

 

You may have encountered children who just cannot sit still, behave in appropriate situations (like in a church setting), talk too much, or can’t wait their turn.  You may have chalked them up to poor parental guidance and bad breeding; but, the truth of the matter may be that these kids are afflicted with a developmental disorder called ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

What is ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neurodevelopmental syndrome that is most commonly diagnosed in childhood, although this disorder may last well into the adult years.

Children with ADHD generally exhibit 3 broad symptoms and these “sub-symptoms”:

 

  1. Very short attention spans
  • Are easily distracted so they usually leave one task or activity often unfinished to jump to another      ADHD
  • Seemingly appear to be tuning you out when spoken to
  • Have difficulty focusing and therefore finishing a task
  • Are easily bored with a task/activity unless supremely enjoyable
  • Have difficulty learning new things because of focus issues
  • Have a tough time following instructions
  • Forget things, miss out on details, lose things, and have problems completing assignments or schoolwork
  1.  Very Impulsive
  • Do things without thought of situational context or consequence
  • Are abnormally talkative
  • Have an overwhelming urge to get what they want immediately so that delayed gratification or waiting in line become major issues
  • Constantly make inappropriate remarks or comments
  • Have hardly any emotional restraints
  • Act without thought to social or physical consequences
  1.  Hyperactive
  • Are constantly active or on-the-go; stillness seems to be an alien or disagreeable physical state
  • Do incessant touching or playing with anything in their line of sight
  • Are impatient
  • Have difficulty doing quiet time activities like reading and drawing

Because ADHD causes cognitive and behavioural problems, it can render children diagnosed with the disorder, socially unlikable and academically hampered.  It is therefore important that suspected kids be diagnosed correctly and early on so that suitable measures can be taken to help them integrate themselves well into their social milieu.

Does ADHD Mean Low Intellect?

ADHD may trouble children of differing intellectual capacities.  ADHD has no bearing at all with I.Q.  In fact, many tested ADHD patients have shown above average intelligence, despite their academically poor achievements.  Some intelligent adults with persistent ADHD have even managed success as “out-of-the-box” thinkers; but this trend is not ubiquitous.

The problem with ADHD-afflicted individuals is not their intelligence but their chronic inability to use their smarts to work productively and form the necessary social relationships to get things done.

Low Diagnosis of ADHD in U.K. than in U.S.  

ADHD occurs in as much as 3%-9% of school-age children in the U.K.  Unfortunately, many of these cases remain undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.  According to the 2013 University of Exeter research published in the “Journal of Autism Developmental Disorders,” U.K. kids are less likely to be recognized with ADHD than U.S. children.

Among a representative population sample of 19,000 U.K. children, only 1.5% between the ages of 6-8 years old have been diagnosed with the syndrome in 2009.  On the other hand, about 6.3% of kids between the ages of 5-9 years in the U.S. have been discovered to have ADHD.

The study points out that autism diagnosis in the U.K. is rising, however, and suggests that British children diagnosed with autism may have the probability of being beset by an attention deficit disorder instead.  It is therefore important to make sure a child is diagnosed correctly with the proper syndrome to avoid the failure of corrective therapies.

Adult ADHD

adult adhd

Although ADHD is more common in children and adolescents, these same individuals may carry their syndrome well into adulthood and old age.  It was thought then that the disorder would wane when a child becomes an adult.  In many cases, it has; although,   studies now have discovered that ADHD can well last a lifetime.

Just as in childhood, undiagnosed and unmanaged ADHD can limit (in some cases, severely) the opportunities and quality of an adult’s life as it can profoundly affect their personal and working relationships, the organisation of their daily lives, and their career prospects.  Unfortunately, literature on adult ADHD is few because studies have focused mostly on children.

Adults with ADHD can exhibit forgetfulness which may be misdiagnosed as a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease.  Again, it is important that these individuals receive the correct diagnosis and treatment.

Treatment of ADHD

Unfortunately, ADHD cannot be cured (be wary of therapies that claim otherwise) but it can be managed well.  Treatment consists of a long-term plan that involves not only the regulation of the child’s behaviour but also the family’s and ideally, even the school’s education on ADHD.

In most cases, ADHD is managed with a blend of both drug and behavioural therapy.  Alternative treatments such as occupational therapy may be brought in the mix.

How to Build Confidence

confident people

Confidence…it’s that intangible thing that strikes you when you meet someone for the first time.  Real confidence generally shows at first impressions and permeates a person’s aura.  It speaks through his manners, body language, actions, and choice of words.

What is Confidence?

Confidence is tied to self-esteem which refers to how we value and perceive ourselves to be.  Confidence rests on our measure of self worth and belief in our own capabilities.

Confident people have a strong knowledge foundation of their capacities and have the mental tenacity to test their own boundaries.  When the general conception for something is impossible, confident people rise to the bait of proving the idea wrong or right.

Our self perception may or may not be congruent with other people’s impressions of us.  Loud people are not always confident people.  Talented people are not always confident either.  One can have an aggressive mien but actually feel afraid and unsure beneath that dominant veneer.  A person can also be very good at something, yet still feel like he can’t measure up to others.  Confidence does not rest on talent or feelings of superiority.  It comes with the belief of knowing you are as good and worth it all as much as anyone else.

Does Confidence Involve Arrogance?             Confidence vs arrogance 1

Arrogance is often mistaken for confidence.  The truth is:  arrogance is a far cry from confidence.  Confidence inspires; arrogance repels.  They are as different as night and day.

Arrogance often has the intent to bolster superiority at the expense of downgrading others.  Arrogance is often used to acquire some measure of confidence.  Hubristic people need to constantly display their primacy by lording over others and trying to instil a sense of inferiority in whoever they encounter.  Only when they have established their superiority can they gain some measure of confidence.

On the other side of the coin, confidence is about quiet, unshaken belief in one’s competence.  Confident people do not seek superiority over others.  These people are concerned about competing with themselves rather than competing with others.  What makes confident people tick is the process of self improvement and self actualization.

How to Build Confidence and Keep It

True confidence is not acquired by simply deciding to have it through positive thinking and affirmations (although this is a great start); it is gained through a layered process of self analysis, goal setting, determination, and the willingness to go beyond one’s comfort zone.

Although some of us just need a little push toward gaining more confidence, there are many people that need professional help to get there.  Still, it is never too late to start incrementally growing our self-esteem by taking these baby steps:

  • Be aware of negative self-talk

Nothing brings you down more than giving the time of day to your negative self.  Listen to your inner chatter.  Do you often say self-deprecating lines such as  “I always mess this up;” “I can’t do this;” “I’m never good with people;” etc.?  Why don’t you shift your perspective into a positive mode with thoughts like “I’ll try this;” “I may make mistakes, but I will learn from them;” “I’ll get to where they are at as long as I keep at it.”  This way, you don’t place rigid limits on yourself.  Remember, positivity is key.

  • Get a toe, a whole foot, or your entire self out of your comfort zone

You can never test yourself nor learn anything new if you box yourself in a world you already know.  New experiences test your mettle and provide insights about yourself.  For instance, if the thought of speaking in front of a crowd unsettles you, you need to get yourself out there and try; however, you don’t jump in blind or leave caution to the wind.  Courage is not just about going ahead and doing it.  It makes sense to help ease your learning curve by planning, preparing, and getting ready for your attempt at something new.  In this case, write down what you want to say, practice, and ask help for your first public speech.

  • Realize that you will make mistakes

As the fact goes, no one is perfect; so cut yourself some slack.  People fall from their pedestals often, some more often than others.  What develops confidence  though is a mindset to evaluate and learn from mistakes so that these can be avoided the next time you try the same thing.  Nothing will be gained if no effort is made to pick one’s self up to squarely face obstacles again.

  • Avoid comparing yourself to others

Your circumstances are very different from other people’s.  There is no point in denigrating your lot and exalting theirs.  Success is often dependent on one’s confidence, mental tenacity, and hard work.  Of course, some may have had it easier than others; but, those who have surmounted more obstacles tend to have a lot more confidence in themselves.  Assess yourself and your situation and work from there toward your goals.  Focus on topping your achievements instead of trying to go head-to head with others.  You’ll be surprised how fulfilling it is to actually achieve your objectives at your own steam.

These are only some of the many steps you can take to increase your confidence level.  Acquiring confidence takes courage, perseverance, and determination; but, it’s well worth the effort.  Keep in mind…

“Low self-confidence isn’t a life sentence.  Self-confidence can be learned, practiced, and mastered–just like any other skill.  Once you master it, everything in your life will change for the better.”  —-Barrie Davenport

self-esteem

Helping Children Deal with Anger: A Parental Obligation

anger_child

 

Anger is a healthy emotion borne out of frustration, fright, pain, or grief.  It is part of our survival instinct and a component of our “fight and flight” response to perceived threats.  We lash out because we do not want to feel pain or be threatened physically or emotionally. Because we are human, all of us feel anger at several points in our lives, some more than others.

As parents, we need to be particularly constructive when dealing with our anger.  Children who grow up in a home where difficult emotions like anger and envy are well managed, tend to develop into emotionally well-balanced adults.  It is therefore vital for a child’s lifelong happiness and well-being to know how to deal with his angry impulses.

Children may often feel anger as part and parcel of growing up.  Developing into an emotionally mature adult is a difficult and often painful process for which parents must have the patience and adequate information to take on the role of emotional guides.  It is vital for children to learn to control or live with natural but powerful feelings if they are to be socially well-integrated and accepted by their society.

Why Is My Child Always Angry?

A great many things can cause the overwhelming feeling of anger in a child.  Children want to act on their impulses or urges as soon as these manifest because they have little or no concept of consequences.  A young child’s frontal cortex is still too immature or underdeveloped to help them self-regulate their emotions.  Boundaries set to control their actions, no matter the necessity, are often points of a frustration.  No one wants to be controlled; but, at their young stage in life, boundaries are necessary for safety, social acceptance, and even self respect.

raging kid

Children’s feelings of anger may stem from some of these physical or psychological factors:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Physical factors:

  •  Inadequate sleep or rest
  •  Hunger
  •  Tiredness or exhaustion
  •  Illness, either physical or mental

Psychological Factors:

  • Feeling inadequate but too vulnerable at the same time to admit to his feelings of inferiority (Ex.  He may be a target for bullies in school; he knows his sibling is better than he is at football; etc.)
  • Feeling neglected (Is he given his fair share of praise and attention?)
  • Inability to meet behavioural expectations because of the age limitations  (Ex.  Expecting a toddler to sit still for long periods is beyond the child’s capacity to do so at two years of age.)
  • Inability to cope with overwhelming changes  (Ex. arrival of a new baby, divorce, moving to a new home, moving to a new school, meeting a whole set of new people, and the like)
  • Testing and stretching your boundaries.  Kids will scale up their tantrums when they have learned in the past to get their way through hysterical screaming, crying, and foot stomping.
  • Feeling of unfairness when given a “no go” to what they want
  • Feeling frustrated for not being able do tasks beyond their physical abilities  (Ex. Fitting a round peg into a square hole; running faster than their older brother)
  • Feeling isolated or unaccepted by peers, playmates, or siblings  (A young child may feel ostracized by his older siblings or cousins who would rather play among those of their age group.)

The list above is by no means an exhaustive one; but, it can give you fairly good ideas on what usually ticks off children and even teenagers.

Some Tips on How to Manage Your Child’s Anger

You recognize the social and personal responsibility of helping your child and deal with anger. For this reason, it is fundamentally necessary to walk your talk first.  As a parent, you are your child’s primary role model; so, if he is to know how to curb his angry impulses, he must learn how to do so constructively from observing how you handle your own feelings as well.

How else can a parent help kids deal with anger (different levels), from annoyance to rage?

  1. Teach kids to acknowledge their feelings.  Never dismiss or trivialize their emotions.

Emotions, whether they be elation, grief, surprise, or anger are never bad.  Emotions   are what make us human.  It is in a kid’s negative choice of expression that can turn these emotions into personal and social disadvantages.

In a scenario where a playmate grabs your kid’s toy without his permission, your kid will naturally feel righteous indignation.  Let your child know that his feelings are justified and that it is alright to feel this way.  What is not healthy or correct, however, is walloping the offending playmate with a wooden brick for the disrespect.  Instead, help him express his anger by encouraging him to calmly but firmly vocalize his feelings so his friend may know the error of his ways.

Failing to acknowledge a child’s anger or dismissing his feelings as inconsequential can only create unresolved anger which he may carry into adulthood.  Chronic unresolved anger lugged into adult life can only leave a sad wake of damaged relationships, stagnant careers, and social dysfunction.

  1. Set boundaries that are clear and uncompromising.  Be Consistent.

Your child needs to realize that feeling angry is ok; but, acting out aggressively in the heat of the moment is not.

Let him know in a firm but calm voice that his angry behaviour of brick throwing is wrong and will not be tolerated.  Be very clear with your decision to impose consequences for inappropriate behaviour. Consequences may involve withholding privileges but these should never incorporate physical pain such as spanking (an action contradictory to the non-violent ways of anger management you are trying to instil).  Follow through with the consequence every time your child decides to behave with aggressive behaviour.  He must know the limits are non-negotiable.

  1.   Divert your child’s aggressive impulses toward other ways of expression.

Does your child feel like hitting someone or his pet dog when angry?  Patiently but firmly offer safe and suitable alternatives like a punching bag to vent his frustrations on.  Instead of tolerating his yelling, encourage him to cool off by breathing deeply in and out and counting down to calmness.  Letting him draw what makes him angry may also help a child express his anger in a safe way; at least, ripping his paper to bits afterwards can give him a sense of control over the source of his anger as well.

  1. Instil a sense of awareness of your child’s anger triggers.

When your child starts being aware what pushes his buttons and the way his reactions build around these triggers, it will be easier for him to effectively manage his anger.  Praise him when he gets a grip on his emotions at whatever stage it is at.  Being able to discipline himself from erupting to inappropriate behaviour is a very empowering feeling for a child, a positive reinforcement underlining the value of anger management.

When you think an angry feeling has been triggered, encourage the child to verbalize his feeling.  Acknowledge it and then offer venues or ways for helping him to calm down. For instance, when a child says he is furious with his little brother for knocking down his Lego castle, you can say, “Yes, that would make me mad too.  Let’s figure this out, shall we?”  Talking about angry feelings and compulsions would encourage the child to be aware of how his emotion progresses.

If you feel your techniques are not adequate enough to handle your child’s anger issues, therapeutic intervention is the next imperative option.  Addressing the problem at the childhood level is a much wiser decision than leaving the issue to fester well beyond his teenage years.  Seek the necessary counselling for your child.  The gift of a happier, well-adjusted disposition may very well be a valuable legacy.

Manage Your Anger: Why You Should

angry lady

Is Anger Bad?

Just as joy, sadness, fear, and envy are emotions that define our humanity, anger is a human ingredient integral to experiencing life. Anger is also a survival mechanism, without which we will all be ill-equipped to deal with danger or threats to our physical and psychological health. In this context, anger is a good thing. Anything good, however, can turn bad; it simply depends how you use it.

Anger can range from simple annoyance to rage. Anger at any point on the emotional scale does serve as a defence mechanism to perceived personal or sociological threats. Anger, however, becomes a debilitating problem when it is:
• chronic
• unresolved
• harmful to one’s self
• harmful to others

Anger is a very strong emotion that can threaten to overwhelm one if he does not know how to express or channel it. It is imperative that we learn to manage our anger if we want to live normally, at peace and harmony with one’s self and with others. Our ill-expressed tempers often cripple us socially and psychologically. Simmering, unresolved tempers often worm their way into verbal abuse, constant criticism, and even self-destructive behaviour such as alcoholism and substance abuse. Rage may manifest into physical violence.

Are Some People Angrier Than Others?

People whose tempers flare stronger and linger longer than normal have anger management issues. Not all of these types readily erupt in a full-blown tantrums, however. Some exhibit chronic irritation or crankiness, social withdrawal tendencies, and even physical illness.

People whose anger is out of control usually have low tolerance for frustration and stress. They may not have the mental strength to take things in stride and the emotional intelligence to know how to pick their battles. Because of this, constantly overwrought people tend to overreact to situations they perceive to be unreasonable. For instance, a person with anger problems may respond with verbal abuse when faced with constructive criticism from a friend or colleague. An overly angry person may perceive friendly critical advice as an attack to his integrity, triggering intense feelings an average person would normally not possess when faced with a similar situation.

Do You Feel You Need Counselling?

Although venting anger is important and emotionally healthy, it is its manner of expression that has to be controlled or managed. Your happiness is at stake if you cannot learn to manage a volatile temper well. It is time to seek professional help when you find yourself having problems in these aspects of your life:

Your Anger is Hurting Your Relationships  Angry-Couple
People get hurt or afraid when you lash out at them, whether you do so by being loud and demanding or by being indifferent and cynical. When you realize that people have to walk on eggshells around you, it is time to make a critical assessment of yourself before relationships become irreparably damaged. You owe yourself an honest appraisal if you have lost friends, the respect of colleagues, or are experiencing an emotional distancing from your family because of your temper or volatile moods. It is essential to get a grip on your anger before it destroys your social and personal life. Children are particularly damaged by misplaced and excessive parental anger.

Your Anger is Hurting Your Career  fired!
Excessive anger that morphs into hostility and disrespect in the workplace often gains the abnormally angry person nothing but the very same reactions he dishes out. Indiscriminately lashing out simply alienates you from people around you. Remember, it is people that help you advance your career; it is also people that can hamper it.

Your Anger is Hurting Your Psychological Health
Anger raises your “fight or flight” hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine. These hormones regulate our survival responses when faced with a stressor and are therefore necessities to life; but, when chronic anger compels these hormones to stay in our bloodstream indefinitely, it takes a toll on our mental health. We begin to be more susceptible to anxiety and depression and feel the pressures of stress more acutely than normal people would.

Chronic anger also clouds your thinking and impairs judgement which reduces your cognitive abilities. Your decision-making capacity, thinking patterns, and perceptions may be significantly warped because of unresolved anger.

heart-attackYour Anger is Hurting Your Physical Health
Unresolved anger can be dangerous to your body’s health. High emotional stress can cause the immune system to weaken and subsequently contribute to a variety of health issues ranging from skin ailments (dandruff, eczema, psoriasis) to cardiovascular problems (high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke).

Your Anger Has Taken On A Violent Turn
When you have physically hurt your spouse, child, or a friend in a fit of anger, it is urgently vital to seek professional help. Violence is inexcusable unless one is faced with a life-threatening situation.

The Goal of Anger Management

Anger management is not about getting rid of anger. It is a process by which one is taught how to identify his personal anger triggers, how to control his responses when faced with angry feelings, and how to handle a stressful situation with constructive and positive reactions.

When you seek to manage your anger issues, you not only seek to significantly improve your life but also the life of others you live and work with on a daily basis. Most of us do not realize how much our words and actions affect other people, especially those who are dependent on us.

Should you feel the need for help on your anger issues, seek a professional therapist. It is best to consult one who is accredited at a recognized organization such as the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP).