Kids dealing with impulse control issues are prone to depression as they are constantly being told what is wrong about them and they are never told what’s right. These impulse control issues can affect various aspects of their lives, from school performance to social interactions.
As a result, many parents turn to medication because they feel like they have no choice but that shouldn’t be the case. In today’s episode, we’ll be talking about the strategies for impulse control and how we can help our dysregulated kids put those brakes on.
People with ADHD have impulse control issues but not everybody who has impulse control issues has ADHD.
Impulse control issues are part of ADHD but not everybody who struggles with their impulse control has ADHD. Sometimes, you can see impulse control problems in people with anxiety, OCD, autism, and other mood disorders.
When I do a brain map of somebody who has impulse control issues, it's like on fire because they've worn out their brake pads and that’s what we want to target for improvement. That behavioral disinhibition – not being able to put the brakes on – is the foundation for learning and executive functioning.
How does lack of impulse control affect us every day?
When we overreact, everything is at a heightened level, triggering the emotional center of our limbic system called the amygdala. As such, we can go into a fight, flight or freeze mode. And when that happens, you can have impulsive reactions.
Because of that, we’re hindered from doing things in the right manner. It’s even more challenging for kids as they struggle with regulating their frontal lobes. As a result, it can strain their relationships with others as they react impulsively.
Most of the time, kids are not comfortable with their body. This can manifest as clumsiness, poor coordination, or struggles with fine motor skills. They would find it difficult listening or focusing. They can even have problems transitioning from a task to another as their impulse control issues can interfere with concentration, focus, and task completion.
What are the strategies for impulse control?
That’s why it’s important to reinforce the positive behaviors we want to see in our kids and we need consistency to do that. But first things first, we have to calm the brain. There are many ways on how we can achieve that which we have already discussed in our previous episodes.
It is also important that we, as parents, regulate ourselves because our kids regulate themselves off us. As we know, kids learn a lot by observing and copying the actions and behaviors of their parents. And when we show them how important it is to regulate ourselves by managing our emotions, they’ll learn effective strategies for emotional regulation.
Making your kids do mindfulness-based activities significantly improves their behavior and their overall well-being. This practice can enhance children's ability to sustain attention and concentrate on tasks. Connecting them with nature also helps them regulate their nervous system and boosts their focus.
As we’ve mentioned, they have difficulty transitioning from one task to another. That is why we have to break down the tasks for them and show them the steps on what to do. Most of the time, we tend to assume that these kids already know what to do when in fact, they don’t.
Impulsive kids feel terrible about themselves and are prone to depression as they are constantly being told what is wrong about them and they are never told what’s right. As a result, many parents turn to medication because they feel like they have no choice but that shouldn’t be the case.
For more information, you can read this blog post on How to Deal with Impulsive Behavior.
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