Impulsive behavior in children can not only be challenging to manage, but it can also lead to dangerous situations for the child.
With that being said, impulsive behavior is likely to be displayed by most children at some point in their development. When this type of behavior arises, it can be difficult to know what to do.
In this article, we will look at ways you can control impulsive behavior in your child.
What Causes Impulsive Behavior In Children?
Before you can begin to control the impulsive behavior that your child is exhibiting, it is important to understand what is causing the behavior in the first place. This can have an impact on the best way to deal with the behavior.
One of the most common causes of impulsive behavior in children is their maturity level or their stage of development.
For younger children in particular, impulsive behavior can be perfectly developmentally appropriate. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take steps to control and minimize it.
If your child is not in a developmental stage where impulsive behaviors are appropriate, it is time to consider other causes. A common cause of impulsive behavior in children is ADHD.
Impulsive behavior as a symptom of ADHD is more likely to be exhibited in young boys, but it can also be present in girls. Girls with ADHD may present differently and should also be tested if you are concerned.
Outside of developmental reasons or possible ADHD, impulsive behavior can also be an external manifestation of frustration or unhappiness.
Children don’t always have the vocabulary or emotional intelligence to be able to articulate how they are feeling. Because of this, negative emotions can come out as unwanted, impulsive behavior.
How Does Impulsive Behavior Manifest In Children?
- Acting out and being silly
- Being aggressive toward others
- Wanting to be first or have the last word
- Overreacting to negative situations
- Struggling to follow rules
- Getting into dangerous situations
How To Control Impulsive Behavior In Children?
Once you have established why your child is exhibiting impulsive behavior, there are certain steps you can take to control the behavior. Some are immediate actions and others are long-term habits and lessons that can help you and your child.
Do A Safety Check
The first thing that you should always do when your child is being impulsive is to do a quick safety check. This is to ascertain whether there is a risk of physical harm to your child or anyone else around you.
If there is a risk, this should be minimized immediately before the behavior is addressed.
Take A Moment To Regroup
Once you have dealt with any safety risks or have ascertained that there are no risks, it is important to take a moment to regroup.
Although it can be tempting to react emotionally to impulsive behavior this is often counterproductive and can cause more tension and issues.
Take a moment to breathe and compose yourself before addressing the behavior with your child.
Name What You Are Seeing
In order to communicate effectively with your child about their behavior, you need to let them know how you are viewing their behavior. What they see as a bit of fun or messing around could actually be dangerous or risky.
Explaining this to them can help them to see why you don’t want them to continue the behavior. Keep things simple and on their level.
Ask Your Child To Label Feelings
Once you have explained how you are viewing the situation, it is important to allow your child the opportunity to express their feelings. To understand why your child is exhibiting impulsive behavior, you need to listen to them.
Asking them to label their feelings can also help them to recognize their feelings and respond better in the future. Teaching your child how to label their feelings is a long-term lesson that can help them in short-term situations.
This is a good time to address any causes for the feelings that can be rectified immediately.
State The Expected Behavior
Once you have listened to why your child is exhibiting impulsive behavior and have rectified simple issues, it is important to clearly state the behavior that you expect your child to exhibit instead.
You should also explain why you want this behavior instead of the impulsive one.
Ask Your Child To Repeat Directions
Once you have communicated the behavior you expect from your child, ask them to repeat it back to you to make sure that they understand. This can help to avoid miscommunication and rising tensions between you and your child.
Short-term measures to control and correct impulsive behavior are useful at the moment. However, you need to help your child to implement long-term coping strategies to help them deal with and overcome these impulsive behaviors.
Teach Problem-Solving Skills
Problem-solving skills are important to pass on to your children. Giving your child the tools to understand that there is more than one way to solve an issue they are having can help to mitigate the occurrence of impulsive behavior.
Brainstorming can be a great way to help your child understand that there is more than one way to approach a problem.
Teach Anger Management Skills
Sometimes, impulsive behavior comes from a burst of anger or frustration. Teaching your child methods of successfully handling their anger can help to avoid impulsive behaviors.
Simple strategies such as taking deep breaths or square breathing can help. You can also help your child to create a “calm down” kit filled with things such as fidget toys to help them relax and take a moment to themselves before they react.
Provide Structure And Consistency
Children thrive on routine and discipline. This can be implemented in your home through structured routines and consistent consequences. This is effective for impulsive behavior that is born of frustration and feelings of lack of control.
Be A Good Role Model
Children learn a lot through watching the interactions and behaviors of people around them. Making sure that you are a good role model can help your child.
This doesn’t mean you have to be perfect, but acknowledging mistakes in your behavior can help your child.
There are so many reasons why your child may exhibit impulsive behavior. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways that you can gently help your child to recognize and avoid these behaviors in the future.
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