Teaching Impulse Control Strategies

Instructor: Elizabeth Hemmons

Beth has taught early childhood education, including students with special needs, for the past 11 years. She has a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education.

Teaching students with impulse control difficulties can be a challenge. In this lesson, we will recommend some strategies that can help these students have more self control.

Teaching Students with Impulse Control

Jimmy is a 6-year-old boy in your class who has trouble keeping his hands to himself. Not only that, he is constantly interrupting lessons by calling out and getting in other students' faces. You feel like you say his name all day long. Jimmy is a sweet and kind boy, and he really loves to learn, but he lacks impulse control. Impulse control is the failure to control urges, actions and lack remorse. Teaching students like Jimmy can be frustrating and exhausting. Students who lack impulse control sometimes have difficulty in school because there is so much around them to touch, talk to, and play with. In this lesson, we will discuss strategies to make school easier for both teachers and students with impulse control difficulties.

Classroom Environment

Students who lack impulse control do better in environments with more structure and clear rules. Classrooms that lack structure can stimulate some students and cause them to be more out of control. Establish consequences if students break the class rules and rewards for good behavior. This will help to motivate your students. Also, keep your classroom free of clutter and establish clear boundaries for centers and stations.

For example, Jimmy has trouble sitting on the rug next to the bookshelf full of toys. He constantly touches and plays with the blocks. Create a square on the rug with masking tape away from the shelf that provides Jimmy with boundaries. Explain to him that he needs to keep his body in the square. This will help him maintain body control.

Provide Opportunities for Physical Activity

Usually children with impulse control difficulties have a lot of energy. Getting them outside to run and play will help them remain in control in the classroom during lessons. You can do this by adding recess/play time or providing brain/sensory breaks throughout the day. Sensory breaks are opportunities for physical movement throughout the school day.

For example, Jimmy consistently calls out during class, and it usually gets worse as the lesson progresses. Ask for a volunteer to run an errand for you about midway through the lesson. Call on Jimmy to be your helper. He can get some energy out by walking down the hallway to visit another teacher, and then he will feel more focused when he returns to class.

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