Impulsive Behavior (page 3)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 24, 2013

Parent-Child Interactions

Olson and his colleagues (1990) attempted to assess parent-child interactions through behavioral observation to determine if parental interaction style was a predictor of impulsive behavior. According to Olson et al., the purpose of their study was to "identify the relative contributions of different parent-student interaction antecedents to students' later self-regulatory abilities" (p. 320). This longitudinal study involved 79 mother-child dyads. Their findings indicate that "responsive, sensitive, and cognitively enriching mother-child interactions are important precursors of childhood impulse control" (p. 332). Children, especially boys, were more likely to develop impulsivity if their mothers manifested punitive and inconsistent behavior management styles.

Interventions for Impulsive Behavior

Teach Waiting and Self-Control Skills

Impulsivity may be decreased by teaching students appropriate waiting behaviors, and by a reinforcement plan for appropriate responding behavior. For example, after an assignment has been given, a teacher may teach a student to place her hands on her desk, establish eye contact with the teacher, and listen for directions. The teacher should praise the student for demonstrating these waiting behaviors.

Students who manifest impulsive behavior will benefit from training in social skills such as self-control. At the same time, students may be taught relaxation techniques. Reinforcement will increase the possibility that a student will demonstrate behaviors that are alternatives to impulsivity. The student just described learned social skills through direct instruction and reinforcement for use of the skills to replace impulsive behavior. Schaub (1990) also found that targeting behaviors for intervention that were positive and incompatible with undesirable behaviors was effective with students who demonstrated impulsive behavior. Bornas, Servera, and Llabres (1997) suggest that teachers use computer software to assist students in preventing impulsivity. The authors describe several software products that are effective in preventing impulsivity through instruction in problem solving and self-regulation

Give Smaller and Shorter Tasks One at a Time

A student who hurries through an assignment without stopping to read the directions or to check for errors could be given smaller amounts of a task to accomplish at one time, rather than the whole task at once. This would give the student a smaller chunk of the problem to deal with and more opportunities for reinforcement since the student would be more likely to solve the problem correctly.

Sometimes, a student considered impulsive can handle solving only one problem at a time. In this case, the student should be allowed to solve the problem and receive feedback immediately. As the student becomes more confident and is able to pace him- or herself more efficiently, then he or she may be able to handle larger and larger portions of projects and assignments.

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