30th Mar 2011 | 10:16 am | 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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