Managing Frustration for Children with ADHD

Managing Frustration for Children with ADHD (Ages 9-11)

Children with ADHD often have difficulty managing frustration and coping with negative emotions. Poor frustration tolerance often leads to behavior problems, as children who are frustrated react through behavioral difficulties, emotional outbursts and “meltdowns.” Children who have difficulty coping with negative emotions often misbehave at home and/or at school and have difficulties getting along with other kids and/or completing academic tasks. Our Managing Frustration for Children with ADHD program is designed for children who are ages 9 to 11 and are in third, fourth, or fifth grades. It teaches children and their parents to recognize, understand and cope with frustration, anger and other negative feelings in a fun and supportive environment. Initial research has shown that this program helps children with ADHD to better cope with their anger and frustration.

This program does NOT focus on helping children to better manage their core symptoms of ADHD (inattention, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity), as research has shown that such programs are not very effective.  This program is most effective for children with ADHD whose core ADHD symptoms are being addressed by empirically-based interventions (medication, environmental management at home, classroom management and academic accommodations as needed at school) but who continue to experience significant problems with frustration. It is strongly recommended that parents complete the Understanding and Managing ADHD in Children ages 6 to 12 parent group program before enrolling their child in this group, as the skills parents learn in that program greatly assist them in helping their child apply the skills learned in this program in their day-to-day lives.

The Managing Frustration for Children with ADHD program is conducted in a group format, with no more than eight children enrolled at a time. There are a total of 12 weekly sessions, most of which last 90 minutes, typically scheduled in the late afternoon. The children attend 11 of the 12 sessions, with parents attending one group session without their child (this is the sixth session, and often lasts up to 120 minutes). View the ADHD Group Therapy Schedule (PDF) , with date, time and location information.

The following topics are covered:

  • What is "frustration"?
  • Impact of point-of-view on emotional reactions
  • STEPS to better problem-solving
  • Recognizing the physical signs of frustration and how to reverse them
  • Strategies for coping with negative feelings
  • The relationship between negative BEAR thoughts and frustration
  • Strategies for taming BEAR thoughts to reduce frustration
  • Choices and consequences

The strategies taught in this program are appropriate for children with a diagnosis of ADHD who are: 

  • 9 to 11 years of age, and
  • In third, fourth or fifth grade, and
  • Experiencing difficulties controlling anger, coping with negative emotions and managing frustration despite ongoing efforts to manage their ADHD