ADHD and impulse control: where does one even begin? If you are a parent with a child with ADHD, you most likely have more stories than you can count regarding ADHD and impulse control in your child.
That time at the birthday party that your son grabbed a fistful of the cake before it had even been cut. That dread you experience every time you have to walk near a busy intersection wondering if your child will make a bolt to cross the street.
A lack of impulse control is a hallmark symptom of ADHD. Children with ADHD tend to react to stimuli and experiences without pausing to think. How, as a parent, can you help them build their impulse control? Let’s look at five strategies that will hopefully lower your stress and build your child’s impulse control.
#1 Make Sure You Understand the Behavior
One of the greatest barriers to addressing ADHD and impulse control is not properly understanding a lack of impulse in your child. Your ADHD child does not necessarily want to run in front of a car when they see the ice cream truck. Rather, they just know they want ice cream. They react first instead of think first.
If your immediate response to their impulsive behavior is just to punish, you might be missing an opportunity to instruct. Help yourself by understanding their lack of impulse not as intentional disobedience but rather as a limited processing reaction. Consult quality resources to understand your child’s trouble with impulsivity.
#2 Take Notice of Patterns and Learn From Them
When it comes to ADHD and impulse control, we tend to think each instance is an isolated act. The reality is that children and people in general tend to follow patterns of behavior.
If you take notice and track the times that your child tends to be impulsive, there’s a good probability that you will start to see a pattern. Recognizing patterns provides you another tool as a parent to help your child manage their symptoms. If you know when and in what circumstances low impulse control is more of a problem, you can be more ready to intervene faster and with better results.
#3 Praise Your Child When They Do Right
Many people who write on impulse control strategies for work and home will recommend being clear in your responses to your child. An important distinction to note here is that you need to be clear and consistent both when they do right as well as when they do wrong. If you only respond negatively to your child when they are in the wrong, you are only half communicating with them.
Part of instruction and learning involves acknowledging and praising right behaviors. When your child responds to situations with better impulse control be sure to praise them. Be consistent in your praise. Always tell them when they behave well, and they will learn from it.
#4 Use Discipline Effectively
Discipline should never be viewed as a negative experience. Discipline should be understood as a constructive form of instruction. With that being said, there still are do and don’ts of disciplining ADHD children that you should understand.
With discipline, you should always be firm and consistent. Never think of discipline as merely punishment. Rather, always be sure that you communicate clearly the negative behavior and apply consistent discipline for similar actions. With ADHD and impulse control, address the action as soon as it happens. Never wait and address it later because your child might not relate the discipline to the action.
Also, remember to control your anger. Your child might behave impulsively, but it doesn’t help anything when you impulsively respond in anger, too. Be sure to use calm, collected ways to apply discipline and address negative behavior.
#5 Find Fun Creative Ways to Deal with ADHD and Impulse Control
Finding a solution to success rarely starts with all work and no play. Raising a child and finding the right behavioral modification strategies should never start or end there either. A large part of being a kid should involve having fun. Why can’t raising a child be the same way?
Don’t think of managing your child’s ADHD as a part time job. Think of it more of a challenge to be experienced that can actually be enjoyed. When it comes to impulse control, why not try a game out? For instance, this article recommends one game designed to treat poor impulse control.
This is just idea, though. Be creative. Think up some of your own. There’s no reason ADHD help for parents shouldn’t start with fun.