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Help your kids learn to do anything other than the first thing they think of.


Part 1

Impulse control is a critical skill to develop but will take time and effort. One email can't cover all the information you need to know. Therefore, this email offers important information to learn more about impulse control; you will then get specific strategies to help your kids develop it in the coming weeks.
 
Impulse control is the most important executive skill for kids to develop. Without it, none of the other skills activate. For example, a child can't organize if she has already shoved all her assignments into the bottom of her bag. A child can't practice attending if he’s already jumped out of his chair and disrupted the class. A child can’t learn to problem solve if she has already freaked out and hit another student.
 
Impulse control also affects every area of a child’s life and is often a major underlying source for behavioural, academic, and social problems.

And, poor impulse control can be fatal: Without it, kids put themselves in great danger.
(This 17 y.o was trying to get cool pics for Instagram. He did not survive the photo shoot.)
It’s important to know that we can expect young kids to be impulsive in their behaviours. Adults therefore still need to play a big role in keeping them safe, such as grabbing them before kids run into the street after the cat. Or keeping an eye on them when shopping.
 
Kids do start to develop internal controls. However, there are a lot of kids, especially kids with executive function difficulties (such as those with ADHD), who don’t develop strong internal controls and therefore still need adult support.

While they may learn to look both ways when they cross the street, these kids might not think about what will happen if they set their hair on fire after being called a chicken by classmates or try drugs their friends offer them until too late.
There is a reason why there is no end to the Darwin awards...
Even without a diagnosis, teens are most prone to the risks poor impulse control because this skill is most vulnerable in these years.  Therefore, they are more easily pressured by peers and wrapped up in the moment – especially when things feel (or seem to be) good – than even younger kids. Teens are less likely to make rational, conscious decisions in the moment.
Cuz, you know, things always seem like a fantastic idea at first…
What does poor impulse control look like?
 
Here are just a few examples:
  • Interrupting others
  • Quitting
  • Pushing, kicking, shoving
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Difficulty waiting
  • Disrupting the class
  • Running in the halls
  • Getting off topic
  • Breaking rules
  • Getting too close and personal
Poor impulse control can impair social success. Kids may invade other’s personal space or take something they think is funny too far.

Teens are still susceptible to say something inappropriate or regretful or worse, post something they can’t take back on social media.
 
Impulse control is also essential for school. Without it, kids don’t listen to instructions, miss important details, do the wrong thing for homework, blurt our answers in class, rush through their work, misread pass make careless mistakes, they fail to finish tasks, and/or take a really long time to do things.

 
Bottom line: it is critical kids develop impulse control.

The next issue will dive into strategies to help develop this skill. However, I want to get you thinking over the next week. Often, we can tell when something is going to happen. We can see signs of frustration such as facial grimaces, sighs, groans of exasperation. Or we might notice something completely irresistible for your child.
Identify these precursor signs – anticipate when impulsive behaviours are likely to happen. Doing so will better prepare you to intervene and redirect, but also help your child increase self-awareness.
 
Over the next week keep track of what situations gets your child in trouble. We will build from there.

Happy to help.

Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any questions about anything in this article or other related topics.
Let me know too if there is a particular topic you would like me to write about.

Dr. Caroline Buzanko

Dr. Caroline Buzanko is a mom (with ADHD) who has first hand experience parenting kids with ADHD. She is also a leading expert working with families and kids with ADHD and has years of clinical experience to share with you.
Copyright © 2018 Dr. Caroline Buzanko, All rights reserved.


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