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dyscovery
dyscovery asks:
Q:

Does anyone have good anger management strategies for a child with dyslexia?

Hello everyone.  I see so many of you with children suffering from speech and language delay or dyslexia.  Can anyone advise on how to deal with a child with anger problems,  My eight year old daughter has dyspraxia and dyslexia.  She is completely unable to read.  She had a iTeddy for her birthday to counter the fact that she cannot read her books, but became frustrated with it because she could not get it to do what she wanted that she took a biro and scratched its screen beyond repair.  I am not sure how to get through to her that this is not acceptable behaviour especially when we could not really afford the toy in the first place.  She is due to go to a new school to help with her dyslexia, but can anyone help with the anger?
Thanks
In Topics: Dyslexia, Speech and language issues
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Wayne Yankus
Sep 5, 2008
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What the Expert Says:

I would avoid arguments and reward good behavior.  Practice a new behavior when angry such as counting backwards, blowing pretend bubbles and taking slow breaths.  Give examples to your child and model good behavior yourself.

Wayne Yankus, MD, FAP
expert panelist: pediatrics

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Additional Answers (7)

lkauffman
lkauffman writes:
It is clear from your post that you clearly understand and empathize with your daughter's experience and frustration surrounding her difficulties with reading and movement. Your daughter is lucky to have such caring and compassionate parents!

As you most likely know, struggles with Dyslexia and Dyspraxia can generate a great deal of sadness and anger. Anger is often thought of as a natural reaction to a blocked goal. Thus, it is important to share with your daughter that her feelings are normal and quite understandable. Reassure her that everyone gets angry, but what matters most, is what we do with our anger. The goal is to learn to manage our anger in a healthy way, so that it doesn't take over. If you feel comfortable, you can model positive coping strategies for your daughter, sharing little moments of anger that you have experienced and how you dealt with your angry feelings.

Modeling good coping strategies will also help your daughter to better identify and understand her own experiences of anger. The first challenge for her is to recognize the growing feelings of anger in her body. For instance, you can help her understand her angry feelings by comparing it to a growing feeling of warmth in her body, a tightness in her chest, and seeing "red."

Once she is able to better recognize her angry feelings, she can begin to tackle them by imagining a big red stop sign in her head, counting to ten, etc.

Finally, I have worked with a number of children who suffered from diminished self-esteem as a result of a learning disability, who found great comfort in a school or program specializing in supporting special needs students. My wish for your daughter is that she experiences the same growth and progress.

Good luck!

L. Compian, Ph.D.
Education.com Reference Team
> 60 days ago

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CharlesII
CharlesII writes:
I'm 37 years old. I was diagnosed with dyslexia in the 5th grade, and the majority of my family is also dyslexic, including my father, mother, sister and both brothers, but only a handful of us have a diagnosis. Each one of us has what has been classically identified as having an "anger management problem." The thing is, I get frustrated, never angry or enraged, even though I acknowledge that is would appear to an outside observer (read parent, teacher, psychiatrist,... ) as appearing to actually be such an issue.... In my experiences and after many heartfelt discussions with many other dyslexics, including my own family, I think we may have figured out that it's not "anger" per se, but rather that other's are telling us that we are angry that causes us BECOME angry. In those moments of visible agitation, the ONLY thing I am looking for in order to make the gears in my head to stop spinning out of control is, quite literally, the "missing piece of the puzzle." In every instance that someone helped me recognize that "missing piece," I became instantly calm, ie I stopped exhibiting the physical behaviours that others had mistakenly identified as anger. I was like, "Oh, well, that makes sense if you put it that way."

And the thing that would accelerate the frustration unto even greater heights is this: No one asked me what I meant; they would try to guess as to what I meant and try to explain it away.

My suggestion is this: As hard as this may be to do in-the-moment, stop trying to understand the emotional display that is happening, but rather listen to the very literal words your child is using to TRY TO COMMUNICATE with you. ie I believe she gets even more frustrated because she feels very strongly that you aren't LISTENING to what she is SAYING; instead she sees, accurately or inaccurately, that you are only concerned with how she is feeling, how she is expressing her frustration. (Which is true, you are concerned with how she is feeling, but that, at the time for her, is literally irrelevant to what she is trying to accomplish.)

Hope this helps

[I used spell checker 15 times in writing this reply. Isn't that absurd? ;-]
> 60 days ago

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CharlesII
CharlesII writes:
Reward and punishment systems of education have been show to cause more problems that they solve. These same studies have show that "unconditional positive reinforcement" works a heck of a lot better.

And as far as dyslexics go, speaking for myself, we can maintain focus on a single problem (read: stubbornness) for an indefinite period of time. In fact, I have been banging my head against the proverbial Unmovable Object for many years on multiple topics. Dyslexics can figure it out.... eventually, but the process we use is not the system neurotypical people use... THAT"S WHY IT"S SO FRUSTRATING.

cheers
> 60 days ago

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Miss Teacher
Miss Teacher writes:
Perhaps you can have your daughter verbalize her frustrations before it turns into anger.  Maybe she will soon start to recognize what it is that makes her angry, share it with you, and you can both work together on a solution.  I've used a thermometer visual before where students color or point to their level of "frustration" and if it reaches all the way to the top- they are completely angry and out of control.  If it is somewhere in the middle- you could establish certain steps to follow.  "If we get to this level... we should take a deep breath and count to 10"  "If we get to this level... we need to remove ourself from the situation." and try to eliminate the times when the thermometer goes all the way up.  

Just an idea- but maybe a visual tool will help her to see where she is at and that she doesn't have to let it escalate every time.  
> 60 days ago

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mch9
mch9 writes:
I would advise anyone dealing with aggression in children to google "The Explosive Child". There are many sites dealing with this ..the Centre for Collaborative Problem Solving" .."Thinkkids" and more. After hours with a psychologist we have only just got a diagnosis and it fits the situation like a glove. We feel so guilty about trying to deal with a child who is like an angel at times and explodes suddenly over all sorts of things.
We havent been handling this well but the assessments withing these sites are at least a starting point to our future approach. It will be hard work but now we know how to start learning our strategy.
> 60 days ago

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LDSolutions
LDSolutions , Child Professional writes:
Always focus on the strengths - not the weaknesses.  Find something your child is really good at and loves to do.  The more time the child is doing something they love - the happier they will be.
> 60 days ago

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middleschoolteacher
middleschoo... writes:
My son and I are answering this question together.  My son has dyspraxia and we faced the anger issue together.  He is 14 and going to high school as a successful student. I laugh about our journey now; however, it was frustrating and horrible during the trip.  My son would bite, spit and throw chairs, etc... whenever he was pushed to use his language abilities.  My son's solution is to scream into a pillow and/or to walk away from the tension. (He needs a moment by himself to calm down)...even today.

You need to make sure the child knows that damaging property is not proper and not the solution.  My son says he remembers being taught that everything he does has a consequence.  (If he broke something he replaced it or was grounded)  If he hit or spited, he wrote a brief apology note. (as well as he could)  The issue that we came to the conclusion was to remember with dyspraxia...Language is the issue.  (lack there of)  So once, he was calmed down, we tried to understand the reason he was upset.  (he can sign, or draw a picture)  The point is the angrier my son got, the more his language shut down and the situation spiraled out of control.  

In conclusion, help them solve the anger first, then go back and address the language issue when they are calm.
> 60 days ago

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