Controlling Impulsivity

The tendency to jump into a situation without thinking or making a plan of attack characterizes the impulsive child. This behavior is evident in approaching academic work and everyday life. Helping the child control impulsivity may require consistent and concerted effort from everyone concerned. Modeling rather than talking through control techniques should be used. Initial instruction may need to focus on specific situations. The following are descriptions of two programs that are based on cognitive behavioral modification.

  • Think Aloud
    Psychologist Donald Meichenbaum has developed procedures designed to assist impulsive children in controlling their own behavior. Think Aloud assists children to "Stop! Look! and Listen!" before acting. The steps used to teach a child these self-control techniques are as follows:
    1. The adult performs a task while thinking out loud about what he or she should do. For example, "When I do two-column addition, I need to line my columns up straight, start adding in the ones' column and be sure to carry from the ones' to the tens' column."
    2. The child performs the same task under the direction of the adult following their words while doing the problem.
    3. The child performs the task while instructing himself out loud.
    4. The child whispers instruction to himself while doing the task.
    5. The child does the task while using private speech.

    Meichenbaum's research concluded that impulsive children may appear impulsive because they do not understand the requirements of the task, because they do not use self-talk for self-control, and because they produce self-talk but fail to heed their own words.

  • Stop and Think
    Phillip Kendalls' technique, Stop and Think, has as its focus the control of impulsivity and anxiety through the use of common academic content. Since variations on creative problem solving are found in literature on both learning disabilities and giftedness, this should be a familiar and favorite strategy regardless of the setting. The specific five-step problem-solving process taught to the children is as follows:
    1. "What am I supposed to do?" or "What is the problem?"
    2. "Look at all of the possibilities" (Generate alternatives)
    3. "Focus in" (Try to shut out environmental and mental distractions)
    4. "Pick an answer" (Choose from among the alternatives)
    5. "Check out my answer" and "Praise myself if I'm right and, if not, try to go more slowly and work more carefully next time"

    This variety of content underscores the universality of the problem-solving approach. The "focus in" step is an excellent addition for the distractible or impulsive student.

Council for Exceptional Children

Provided in partnership with The Council for Exceptional Children.


If you need to teach it, we have it covered.

Start your free trial to gain instant access to thousands of expertly curated worksheets, activities, and lessons created by educational publishers and teachers.

Start Your Free Trial

Follow us on:

Follow TeacherVision on Facebook
Follow TeacherVision on Google Plus

Highlights

Back to School
Get ready for Back to School! Whether you've returned to the classroom already, or have a couple weeks left of summer break, we have the materials to make those first days easier. Check out our list of Top 10 Things Every Teacher Needs, Bulletin Board Ideas, plus our collections of Icebreakers, Behavior Management Resources, Graphic Organizers, and much, much, more!

2016 Presidential Elections
Election season is here. Help your students understand the process of our national elections, from the President down to local representatives, with our election activities. Read short biographies of presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) and Donald Trump (R), explore mock election ideas, create presidential trading cards, learn election vocabulary, play election bingo and more!

September Calendar of Events
September is full of events that you can incorporate into your standard curriculum! Our Educators' Calendar outlines activities for each event, including: Suicide Prevention Week (9/4-10), Labor Day (9/5), International Literacy Day (9/8), Grandparents Day (9/11), Patriot Day (9/11), Author Agatha Christie's Birthday (9/15/1890), Stepfamily Day (9/16), U.S. Constitution Week (9/17-23), International Day of Peace (9/21), Autumn Begins (9/22), and Banned Books Week (9/25-10/1). Plus, celebrate Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, Classical Music Month, Hispanic Heritage Month (9/15-10/15), Hunger Action Month, Hunger Action Month, Library Card Sign-Up Month, National Sickle Cell Month all September long!