Parenting: Teaching kids impulse control

Mastery of impulse is all about self-discipline and choice. The mind is a powerful tool with which we have the ability to be in control of ourselves.

Alaric Hutchinson, Living Peace

A child may be naive and just act spontaneously.  He may also show impulsive behavior, especially if not corrected from the first time he showed extreme eagerness.  It may even escalate to a more serious problem if the parent remains mum about it. shares ways for parents to teach impulse control to their youngsters.

Identify feelings

Parenting: Teaching kids impulse control
Parenting: Teaching kids impulse control

A toddler may not understand the emotion he is feeling thus tends to be impulsive.  It is prudent then to orient him to the different emotions.  Label each and orient him the proper way to react when sad, happy, or afraid.  That way, he can be able to verbalize and act properly what he feels.

An example would be reassuring him it is ok to be angry at times but hitting someone to express anger is not proper.  He may close his fist instead when angry or he may take a deep breath.

Provide structure

In teaching a child self-control, you should be consistent with your statement and actions.  Provide structure and keep it consistent. If the house rule is no chocolates and chips before dinner, be strict to that.  Even you shouldn’t be exempted.

It would be more powerful that there is an underlying explanation behind those rules.  You may stress that eating chips and chocolates may make him feel full that he will no longer have the appetite to enjoy his meal.  It is prudent that he understands the reason behind the NO.  Sometimes, because parents tend to not explain everything, the child then explores it himself.  Set consequences as well when the kiddo breaks the rule.

Manage anger and frustration

It is when a kid is frustrated that he acts impulsively.  Teach him to manage his anger.  Explain to him that when he is in his calm state, he can deal with his emotions in a healthy way.

Mirror how to take a deep breath.  Or show how a simple 10-15 minute walk can calm the soul and mind.  You may also divert his attention and emotion to his favorite things.  Give him a cone of ice cream or invite him to read a book with you or watch a cartoon program.

Show him various strategies to deal with his anger.  It may also include being alone to keep himself out of more trouble.

Play and practice impulse control activities

Parenting: Teaching kids impulse control
Parenting: Teaching kids impulse control

A kid tends to be overly excited thus may act impulsively, too.  Engage him in control-building games like Red Light Green Light and Follow the Leader.  Encourage the little tot to listen carefully and follow direction.  By doing so, he practices how to control both his emotion and motion.

With constant practice, he can train his brain to have better control.  Make sure, though, the control games are fun and not boring as it may backfire on you if the task becomes a drag. More game examples are puzzle board, building blocks, and play dough.  Activities that promote impulse control are waiting for food to cool before eating, reading a story, and counting trees or pebbles.

Teach through self-talk

Imagine seeing the house messy and dirty.  Instead of turning your frustration to the first person you will see, how about saying, “I can handle this.”  This is not lying to or convincing yourself, but broadening your mind of a possible solution.  It is clearing your thoughts of negative and impulsive blunders.  Most of the time, because our thoughts are in a panic, we can’t think properly and we allow our current emotion to rule our actions.

Positive self-talk has proven to curb negative emotions, dismiss being impulsive, and gain self-respect.  Teach your child of this kind of strategy, too.

Model impulse control

Most of what a child does come from what he observes and hears.  It is important then that you model appropriate ways to wait patiently.

It wouldn’t hurt if you orient your child what you are doing is an example of impulse control. It is crucial that he learns his parents and guardians are also practicing impulse control.  That it is not a task only children need to master.

Teaching kids impulse control

Parenting: Teaching kids impulse control
Parenting: Teaching kids impulse control

As a child ages and becomes a teenager,  he slowly gains control over his impulses.  This is because he can identify the right emotions to use.  Likewise, he becomes aware of the people around him thus is more conscious of his actions.  But there may still be instances he blurts out rude words or acts unkindly.

Impulse control, however, improves over time with persistent practice and constant discipline. As adults, we should teach our youngsters self-control even at an early age.  That though they can’t control the things around us, they can control how they respond to their surroundings.  And that power to control their impulses will help them achieve success, happiness, and wisdom.

Berlin Domingo

Devoted. Compassionate. Instinctive. Berlin loves to write personal narratives, thrilling discoveries, and mommy tips that make daily living the happiest. She shares a place called the small house with her husband and their four boys.