The next step in our model for social emotional health is Impulse Control. As we dive into strategies to help build this skill in children, let’s pause and think about why impulse control is important.
Impulses are reactions that we don’t consciously choose. In fact, when a child acts impulsively, he can often be as surprised as the people around him. We’ve all seen a child do something senseless, like jump off a high step. There is a moment right before he howls in pain that he looks up in shock, as if he’s thinking, “Why did I do that?” Because impulses are behavior without forethought, they’re not best managed by punishment or reward. In fact, impulses are natural and kids shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed when they act impulsively. Instead, they should learn that impulses can be controlled with practice.
Impulse control is a function of the pre-frontal cortex which is not fully developed until we reach our mid-twenties. What this means is, we can’t sit around and wait for nature to take its course! We’ve got to build up the impulse control skill in children to help them be more successful.
Children who can control their impulses are more independent, have more friends, develop broader vocabularies, feel more confident and make better choices. Those are all things we want for the children we work with on a daily basis!
We’ll be sharing tons of strategies that can help develop this important skill as we dive into the impulse control theme here on the blog. And as always, we welcome any strategies that you use!