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"I'm Too Upset to Learn" - Handling Difficult Emotions at School

Sometimes, our children will be faced with difficult emotions at school -- and be unsure of how to handle them. Teaching them these techniques can help them feel in control.

One evening, several months ago, my 10-year-old son, Mark, was getting upset over simple things. After the second meltdown, I knew something was up. We went for a short walk and had a talk.

"Tell me what's really going on."

"I spilled my drink!"

"I know that's upsetting. But you're having a '10-mile reaction' to a 'two-inch problem.' There's more here. Are you upset about something with your friends?"


"Something with your sister?"


"Did something happen at school?"

"I dunno," Mark murmured, shrugging his shoulders. Then, out of nowhere, he started crying. Clearly, I had found the problem. "I didn't think about that until you just said it."

Mark had been working hard on a project at school and was excited over his progress, when his teacher told him to redo several things. Apparently, he missed -- or misunderstood -- the directions. He was frustrated and discouraged, but too embarassed to let it show in school. So he didn't talk about it. Later, a couple of other things added to his agitation. By the time he came home, his emotions had overtaken him.

After our talk, he settled down and wandered off to play. The rest of the evening was peaceful. No more meltdowns. The trigger for his behavior wasn't apparent on the surface, but once Mark understood the source of his pain, he was able to process his emotions and release them.

Students with ADHD (like my son) are more sensitive and prone to anxiety than others. When a child is in the throes of difficult emotions at school, he is unable to learn. Negative thinking can shut down the brain. Teaching our kids to manage their emotions is as important as teaching them math.

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To finish reading the full story, visit the ADDitude website:

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