Friday, February 27, 2015

Taming Impulsivity

Those with ADHD, autism, learning disabilities, and other challenges often act in an impulsive manner. They may blurt out inappropriate comments, hit others, or break rules that they understand. While this behavior is due to poor executive function control, there are methods you can use to help them reduce impulsive actions.

  • Use visual reminders of expectations

  • Practice calming strategies such as deep breathing, walking, using a squeeze ball in the left hand, or taking a time out. 
  • Teach the child to recognize when he or she is becoming upset and to use the calming strategies. My friend used a traffic light as an example for a two-year-old. When her daughter started to get anxious or angry, she would say, "You're on yellow, what are you going to do to go back to green?" After a period of days without going to red, there was a reward. 
  • Reduce anxiety by giving a clear schedule and warnings of transitions from one activity to another (in 5 minutes, we're going to put the toys away) or one location to another (this afternoon we're going to Grandma's house). 
  • Try a point system to encourage good behavior. 
  • When the child has calmed down after a problem, discuss the other options he or she had to deal with the situation and what the best choice would be in the future. Use a visual reminder to prepare for the next time. 
How have you tamed impulsivity in your home?