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Why is my child so angry?

Updated: Feb 26, 2021

Most of us get angry sometimes. It’s a natural reaction when life feels hard or unfair. But when children are angry more than what you consider normal it may be time to do some deeper digging.

When kids are angry, it helps to:

Tell them it’s OK to feel what they’re feeling, but still be clear that it’s not OK to take anger out on other people.

Set clear expectations for behaviour. Use when-then sentences like, “When you stop throwing things, then we can talk about how I can help you.”

Use an emotions chart or feelings wheel to help your child give words to more complicated feelings.

Talk about better ways to express anger, like exercising or drawing feelings.

If you’ve already tried these things and your child is still having angry outbursts, it can be hard not to feel angry yourself. You may feel like your child is intentionally trying to make you mad. Or you may worry that others are judging you for your child being “out of control.”

You may also feel confused. Taking N.O.T.E is a simple step-by-step tool to help you figure out if the struggles you’re seeing might be signs of a learning and thinking difference. Why is your child so angry? Here’s what might be going on: EEG Studies which show frontal lobe disturbances in the form of excess of Theta and Alpha activity are correlated with difficulties with sleep, memory, executive functions and emotional regulation. When the frontal lobes of the brain are "sleeping" it takes alot of energy to muster up the required activity to engage with the environment and process emotional content, leading to feelings of frustration and irritability. Another EEG phenotype that is expressed in the form of dysregulated moods is that of Frontal Spindling Beta. According to research done by Martijn Arns and Jay Gunkelman , these spindles correlate with impulse control difficulties in thoughts and behaviour, heightened anxiety and sleep maintenance problems. Spindles noted in raw EEG data might result in the frontal lobe inhibitory processes not adequately putting on the brakes for self-control in thoughts and/or behavior. This might also cause difficulty with emotional regulation (anxiety) and rigidity in thinking at times. This is a state of ‘cortical irritability’. Beta spindles can cause inefficient functioning of the area in which they are present and if seen in the frontal lobes will result in dysregulation of mood and present as anger. We also see that these people are on edge, obsessive or compulsive and distracted. They often present with competing thoughts and ruminations. Many of these people also present with tics, especially motor tics. Beta spindles are most commonly found in the frontal and anterior temporal areas and are often accompanied by a deficiency of slow wave activity as well. The drugs of choice for children with anger issues often include anti-epileptic drugs including Lamotrigine (Lamictin), Gabapentin (Neurontin) or Pregabalin (Lyrica) or anti-psychotic drugs like Risperdal. All come with their own set of side effects and are not drugs we ideally want our children to need in the long term! Using Neurofeedback we can re-train the brain to produce more regulated and healthy patterns of electrical activity in the frontal lobes thereby improving impulse control, sleep quality, motivation and energy as well as improved regulation of mood!

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