Discipline and Interventions for Child with DMDD

Interventions for disruptive mood dysregulation disorder teach kids emotional regulation, frustration tolerance. Read how to discipline a child with DMDD on HealthyPlace.

Discipline for disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) is both crucial and challenging. Children and adolescents who live with DMDD have outbursts fueled by frustration. These kids yell and swear and act aggressively toward property, other people, and themselves. They’re also perpetually irritable or angry. Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder severely interferes in kids’ lives now, and it increases their risk of major depression in adulthood. Interventions and discipline for DMDD are clearly in order, but because of the vulnerability and volatility of those with it, discipline must be approached correctly.

How to Discipline a Child with DMDD: Helpful Strategies

Knowing your reason for disciplining your child with DMDD will help you shape your approach. When a child or teen has DMDD, the major goal of discipline is helping them develop emotional regulation. Without this (when they experience emotion dysregulation), they’re unable to manage their response to frustrations, triggers, and emotions. They’ll continue their outbursts and aggression until they’ve learned the proper skills.

Discipline and DMDD need specific skills and strategies. The following approaches have been found to be helpful:

  • Set clear rules, boundaries, and limits, and ensure that your child knows what they are.
  • Have logical consequences in place, and make these clearly known to your child, too.
  • Consistently enforce your rules and limits with your consequences.
  • Be predictable in your approach to discipline as well as in your daily life in general. To a child with DMDD, inconsistency and unpredictability are highly frustrating and trigger meltdowns.
  • Reward positive behaviors. This is as important as applying consequences for verbal and physical aggression.
  • Create and follow routines for all that you do every day.

It’s also necessary to teach kids skills in order to work toward emotion regulation. Help your child identify their moods and changes in their moods. Give them words by listening to them, noticing non-verbal cues, and then reflecting them back to your child. For example, you might say, “I see that it’s hard for you to wait your turn for the TV and that you feel impatient. I promise you’ll have your turn soon. While you wait, do you want to play with your cars or draw pictures?” Then, when they choose an activity to do until it’s their turn, reinforce the positive behavior with a small reward.

Also teach your child to pause before acting on emotions. Have them count backwards from 10 to one (or forward if trying to count in reverse is frustrating for your child). Teach them the useful coping skill of taking deep breaths. Let them know, too, that it’s okay to step away from a frustrating situation to cool down. Working closely with your child’s school will ensure that they know your child needs to do this.

As your child or teen’s parent, having discipline skills and teaching them their own coping skills will help them gradually have more control over their strong, negative emotions. Because DMDD affects lives so profoundly, professional help is recommended.

Professional Interventions for DMDD

Therapy is essential in treating and managing DMDD. Psychologists or mental health therapists use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help children and teens with DMDD identify and deal with negative thoughts and emotions.

This disorder involves the misinterpretation of other people’s attitudes and intentions, which causes frustration and triggers outbursts. Professional treatment helps children handle this frustration and learn to develop alternative interpretations of people and events.

Interventions for DMDD also involve teaching kids coping skills and anger management. The goal of all interventions is to increase a child’s ability to tolerate frustration as part of the development of emotion regulation.

Parent training is another component of interventions for DMDD. In a training program, parents learn skills and strategies such as the ones above to effectively discipline their child or teen. Parents also develop communication skills so they can interact with their child without triggering them. Parents learn crucial concepts like:

  • Validation of their child’s emotions
  • Consistency in rules, consequences, and routines
  • Predictability so the child always knows what to expect
  • How to reward positive behaviors

Interventions for DMDD, including discipline and disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, are designed to increase kids’ emotional coping skills, communication abilities, frustration tolerance, and self-awareness. In the case of DMDD, “discipline” fits perfectly. Discipline means teaching, and it’s teaching necessary skills that helps children, teens, and parents.

article references

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2022, January 11). Discipline and Interventions for Child with DMDD , HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Last Updated: January 16, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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