Parenting a child with impulsivity and behavioral issues is one tough task, and in some cases when parents visit me and ask for help, they believe it is impossible to teach their kid to avoid these behaviors. Well, in this article I will be walking you through the things to teach your child in order to avoid impulsivity and bad behaviors.
First off, you have to understand what the cause of these behaviors is. If your kid just can’t help it, then he or she may have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or some other condition that is not entirely his or her fault. And as a parent, it is important to know that it is not as a result of bad parenting but caused by a brain-based condition.
What really happens here?
The part of the brain that controls impulses develops slowly in these children, and as a result, they speak and take actions without pausing to think of the consequences.
What can you do?
Before we get down to what you need to teach your kid, let’s take a look at things you can do.
- Find out why your child has these behavioral issues by talking with your child’s doctor or consulting with a specialist.
- After knowing the cause of your child’s impulsivity, do a little research on your own as this will guide you in dealing with these issues in a healthy way.
- Meet with other parents that are dealing with it or who have dealt with it successfully. ADHD is the most prevalent childhood condition associated with impulsive behavior, so yes, you are not alone and no matter the cause of your child’s impulsivity there are other parents out there and meeting with them can help you handle yours in a better and more practical way.
What to teach?
Patience is a virtue that can be instilled in your child. Patience teaches them the value of delaying gratification, which is a skill necessary for maturity. It can help counteract impulsivity, and the best way to teach this is by modeling.
You also have to refrain from snapping impatiently at your child, always act calmly without surprise or fear when he or she does something out of the blue. If the behavior did make you angry, take a few minutes to calm down before deciding how to respond, don’t emotionally react.
- Alternate Behaviors
You can teach your child alternate and more socially appropriate ways of expressing what he wants or needs. For example, instead of fighting with friends or siblings over sharing their toys, teach him the process of borrowing (“Please can I play with your puzzle?) and bartering (“I will loan you my story book if I can play with your puzzle”). Also, you must try to model this behavior for him by showing respect for his possessions.
- Positive Behaviors
It is important to note that most children with poor impulse control genuinely want to behave appropriately. It is good then to notice those positive behaviors when they occur and provide appraisals. For example, “That was very nice of you to let your friend play with your toy.” And when you see your child manage his or her impulses, for example, “nice job getting yourself calmed back down.” Praising every little thing he or she does right helps as it encourages that very behavior.
Now, the other side of this coin is that you have to also point out unwanted behaviors because your kid may not realize when the impulsivity kicks in. Calmly pointing it out helps over time but not in all cases as some kids won’t be able to catch themselves before acting. In such situations, consulting a child therapist or a child counselor will help.
Yes, we all know you can’t accelerate a child maturity, but progressively you can provide him or her with the opportunities to take on an increasing level of responsibilities. Some simple tasks like pouring the milk or helping you carry groceries. As the child grows, so should the nature of what you put him or her in charge of.
Holding your child accountable for his or her actions is crucial in molding a responsible adult. Set up rules ahead of time and you must make sure that punishment is administered immediately also they should be short and appropriate.
Let minor misbehaviors slide and let the punishment fit the crime. The punishments should be able to remind them that they are responsible for their own behavior.
Additional tips for parents
Consistency is Key
Try your best to make sure you provide a consistent and predictable routine at home. Time to take your bath, brush your teeth or even time for bed, do well to keep the schedule the same. This has proven to be very effective even when your kid cannot tell time. Also, remember to be consistent in the rules around the house, punishments and other things mentioned above.
If there is going to be a change in routine or schedule, do well to inform your child prior to the time – this way he or she knows what to expect. Preparing them for the change can go a long way in eliminating any form of meltdown that is supposed to follow after the surprise.
Healthy Food and Rest
Make sure your child has three meals and two snacks each day with a healthy amount of rest also. You don’t expect a hungry and tired child to act on their best behavior, do you? Also, remember to make available some emergency sugarless gum in case your kid appears desperate to chew something – trust me, that will save many collars and shirt sleeves.
Every child is different. Therefore, working with a child therapist to get advice on what to do can help you curate a plan to manage your child’s symptoms while building his or her strengths.