Cure impulsivity with pickles

By Karen DeBolt | 30th Mar 2011 | Filed under Parenting, School help, Social Skills, Techniques

The young hunter notices movement in the brush and immediately goes after the game that made the movement. This is a person who is most likely to bring home food for his family that day. That quick acting movement without a lot of thinking or planning made him successful, and chances are, he was a leader in his tribe as well.

So take those very sought after and helpful traits and put them into today’s world, and it gets a lot more complicated–especially for kids. Noticing every movement through out the room, hearing the smallest whisper, immediately blurting out an answer or getting out of your seat to go after something without asking first. This is a recipe for big problems for a child in school. He will not be seen as a leader, sadly, but as a behavior problem.

Impulsivity is driven by the emotional centers of our brain. So it follows that having trouble with tolerating frustration also will cause more impulsive behaviors. That feeling of “I want that” is strong and so the impulse to grab it is strong as well. Afterwards, when the rational mind catches up then it might actually feel bad for grabbing something from another child’s hands or putting something in a pocket that doesn’t belong to you. Then the impulse for self-preservation kicks in because the trouble is about to start! All of this behavior is driven by emotion and not by rational logical thought.

So how do we get our kids who struggle with impulsivity to slow down and let their rational brains make a more reasoned choice?

Make up a funny word

So I’m laying in bed the other morning thinking about this very topic. I could imagine myself saying some kind of funny word like “Pickle” or something as a way to slow down the action and engage rational thinking. The laughter would disrupt the “I want” emotion.

Then I thought of “Pecadillo!” which is a funny kind of word and means mistake. I thought about how easy it would be to mispronounce that word on purpose. I realized that this would work even better because then the kids would be laughing at my silly mispronunciation and correcting me which would also slow down that impulse.

That would give me the opportunity to use specific praise to say, “Thank you so much for helping me out, and I notice that you made a great choice to stop what you were doing there. Way to GO!” (high five)

So by using their own natural tendency to laugh at silly sounding words and to want to correct things that don’t sound right, you can help your kid to begin to slow down and think about things. Over time, they will be able to slow their own impulses, but until then you can help them to strengthen those muscles.

So go talk to your kids and have them come up with some funny words that you can all use to slow the action and take a laughter break. What funny words did your family come up with?

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Social Skills: Leader or Troublemaker?

By Karen DeBolt | 16th Mar 2011 | Filed under Parenting, Relationships, Social Skills, Techniques

Lately, I have been working with several young men in my Whiz Kid after school program  who are natural born leaders. They have great ideas, they have strong opinions about how things should be done. And unfortunately, they are often in trouble at home and at school for these very same traits. It may be  highly annoying for parents and teachers to have to deal with a child who doesn’t blindly follow the rules, who has their own opinions, and is very willing to blurt out what they truly think at any given moment.

While I can relate to how hard it can be sometimes, these very same traits are what makes a great leader! So the child who tries to take over the classroom, then gets sent to the principal isn’t necessarily learning how to focus that brightness into being a great leader and instead is being constantly invalidated for being a “troublemaker.” Do we really want to squash those leadership qualities out of them and risk more problems down the road like poor self esteem, depression, and anxiety?

Of course not!

So while we as parents cannot always control what goes on at school, we can make some changes at home that will build leadership skills rather than squash them. Here are some ideas and I would love to hear yours.


  1. Give your child opportunities to be in charge of planning an event. Obviously, you are not going to start with Thanksgiving Dinner, but how about planning a family game night? Allow your child to think about what is needed, what would have to be obtained, when it would be held. Let your child create invitations, put together the snacks that the guests will enjoy, and pick out a variety of games that will be fun for those who are invited..
  2. When your child starts to take control of a situation, use your collaborative problem solving skills to put your concerns and your child’s concerns on the table. This teaches problem solving skills.
  3. When your child is in a leadership role, teach him or her perspective taking. Its critically important for leaders to take the opinions and feelings of others into consideration. This includes parents, teachers, peers, etc.
  4. When your child comes up with a “wild idea” rather than dismiss it out of hand, help your child to consider all the ramifications of implementation. Big picture thinkers must be able to see the challenges as well as the rewards of their ideas.


I know that all of this takes more time than just having a child who obeys us without question, but remember that you are building a leader. Who knows, you may have the next CEO of a major corporation on your hands. Give your child the tools to succeed.


Whiz Kid Club – Spring sessions

If your little leader is having a hard time with perspective taking, controlling behaviors, and other sorts of trouble making that keep him or her from being successful at school and at home, you might want to consider enrolling him in Whiz Kid Club. Whiz Kid Club is a social skills training program held after school that teaches children how to make and keep friends, control impulses that get them into trouble the most, and best of all its really fun! Check out the website for all the details then fill out the form at the bottom of the page to get started or feel free to call Karen at 503-459-2073.

Summer Day Camp Dates are Set!

I know it may seem way too early to think about Day Camp, but with our small group sizes, its really important to get on it if this is something you are interested in signing up for this year. We are doing three camps this year. One week for boys August 1st to 5th and one week for girls August 15th to 19th. We are also doing a new program this year which will be a two day a week camp over a five week period from June 21st to July 20th 9 am to noon. We are hoping that this will work for families who want a little more structure to Summer, but still freedom for weekend getaways. Check out all the details on the website and see if one of these programs is right for your child.

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