By REBECCA DAWSON
Is your child careless with words? Does he regularly get out of his seat when he is not suppose to? Does your daughter interrupt conversations or jump to the front of line uninvited? Impulsiveness is a quick, natural response for these kids.
They might do all these things and more (and they generally do them rapidly). If your child is impulsive, you probably know it (and so do most of the folks around you).
Impulsive behavior is acting without thinking. Have you ever eaten the last piece of chocolate cake sitting in your refrigerator? Later thinking, “I should not have done that.” Have you ever been shopping and purchased something extra you were not planning for simply placing the extra purchase on your credit card?
Then you are left wondering, how you will pay your next credit card statement. Impulsive behavior is just that. It is acting on an impulse. When adults eat impulsively, we call it overeating. When adults overspend, we call it the federal deficit. Kids have the same nature as adults, and respond in similar ways. But many children respond with even more emotion because the restricted functioning of their emotions is not fully developed.
If you are dealing with an impulsive child, then pat yourself on the back. Impulsive behaviors can drain parents (and teachers). They can be a lot of work. Deep within every impulsive child is a need to find himself worthy and loved. Every child needs love including impulsive kids. At times, it’s easy to forget that when life weighs you down as a result of impulsive behavior and bad choices. But with a little training, impulsive children can mature into constructive, productive adults.
What do you do if your child is one of “those kids?” Here are a few suggestions I encourage you to try:
Impulsive behavior usually begins with a rushing sensation such as a racing heart, tightened jaw, or clinched fists. Help your child identify these (and other) physiological sensations. Then train your child in how to respond when these sensations occur. How would you like him (or her) to handle himself? Teach from this point of reference.
Use real life applications as training tools. Let’s face it. Life is busy and much of life happens on the road. As you drive around town and observe signs, talk about practically applying those principles to your child’s life. Yield signs offer a great teaching tool.
The art of yielding is waiting on another person. Whether it’s at the drinking fountain, on the playground, or in the parking lot, yielding to another is a beneficial behavior in training impulsive children. Learning to yield to others may also produce a fruitful harvest with peers. This can be important for impulsive kids that may lack in social skills.
Work closely with your child’s classroom teacher. Encourage your child to work in small group settings that model appropriate behavior. Everybody can benefit from a little well-modeled behavior especially impulsive kids.
As you learn to instruct your impulsive child, do everything from a position of love. If you get it wrong, apologize to your child and try again. This is also a teaching tool for your impulsive child to not give up when they fail. Most impulsive kids are persistent, but need some guidance in what is worth pursuing and what needs to be released. Also keep in mind; your child may not get it all the first time. It might take multiple times. Just like you may not get it all right; your impulsive kid may also need a few tries. But keep trying. Don’t give up. Your child is worth it.
Rebecca Dawson is the author of Stamped on Every Child’s Heart-Impulsive Behavior. She obtained her Masters in Counseling from Grace College, and currently teaches college level behavioral sciences courses. Rebecca resides in Warsaw with her husband and three sons.