While poor frustration tolerance and difficulty managing frustration is not a diagnosis, it is a problem that children with ADHD often experience on a day-to-day basis. Children with ADHD express frustration in many different ways. When frustrated, children with ADHD may:
Refuse to complete assignments/activities or give up easily
Become "hyperfocused" on completing a task
Become irritated or angry with others
Make negative comments about themselves (i.e., "I'm stupid," "I'm no good, etc."
Experience temper tantrums or "meltdowns."
In severe cases, children may become aggressive, destructive, self-injurious, or violent as a result of frustration
Why do Children with ADHD have this Difficulty?
There is no single reason why children with ADHD have problems with frustration, and it may be different for each child. However, some possible reasons may be:
The symptoms of ADHD often make tasks more difficult
Children with ADHD often have stronger emotional reactions, and have difficulty controlling their emotions when upset.
Children with ADHD often have difficulty making transitions between activities.
Some children with ADHD also have difficulty with mood/depression problems. About 30% of children with ADHD also qualify for a diagnosis of anxiety or depression.
How to Help Children with ADHD and Frustration
Children rarely enjoy being frustrated for want to have outbursts. There are a number of things that parents can do in order to help prevent instances of frustration and to help their child better cope with bouts of frustration when they do occur. Some suggestions include:
Provide structure and predictability. When children with ADHD have sufficient structure and know what to expect, they are better able to manage frustration.
Make sure that children with ADHD have plenty of breaks when completing challenging or difficult activities.
Set up a quiet, safe "cool down" place in the house or classroom to give the child a place to calm themselves down when they get frustrated. It is important that this is not the same location as their time-out spot.
If a child is demonstrating aggressive, destructive, or self-injurious behavior, the child should be referred to a mental health professional to see if additional treatment is necessary.