A general lack of self-control describes the impulsive teenager best. 0r as a popular comedian recently said, "Ready, fire, aim!" The student finds it all too easy to act first and think later. This can create an unending list of problems, and some of them can be quite serious. The older the person becomes, the more serious the offenses they are likely to be. For example, a third grader may progress from flattening a boy in a softball game when it was thought that the boy had batted out of turn to shooting someone because of an angry exchange of words. Usually, the outcomes are not as serious as causing death, but impulsivity certainly wreaks havoc in many lives. Let's look at a more typical example of impulsivity with teenagers.
Andy has always had a hard time with raising his hand before speaking in class. Each year as he floundered more and more academically, he has seemed to blurt out comments more easily. By the tenth grade Andy doesn’t even make a pretense of raising his hand anymore; he just says what he wants to say when he wants to say it. His teachers are frustrated. They know they can't send him to the office every time he interrupts the class, and usually when they do give him a pink slip he is back in the room in less time than it took to fill out the form for the office. Andy also has problems with written work. Instead of taking his time with an answer, he just writes down the first thing that pops into his head. Controlling his temper has been the most serious problem, however. Andy has few friends because he "flies off the handle" too easily. Anyone who tries to be a friend of his can expect to be involved in quite a few fights instigated by a frustrated, angry Andy. He isn’t really angry with his friend, of course; this is only a symptom. The underlying cause of the anger is that Andy is terribly frustrated with his life and finds himself striking out at whomever happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I’m certain that you can easily see that Andy is upset. If he has an outburst of anger before coming to your class, you will also be a recipient of the continuing effects of anger, frustration, and possibly Andy's disappointment in himself for "losing it." At any rate, Andy will be in no condition to concentrate, to take a test, to participate in a class discussion, or in any other constructive activity. He will first need to have some way of calming down.
If arrangements have been made ahead of time, it may be wise for Andy to go to the gym and hit a punching bag until he gets some of his negative feelings out of his system. If you feel uncomfortable having him go to the gym alone, send his "buddy" with him. This may prevent the occurrence of another traumatic event. It may be helpful for Andy to go to a prearranged "time out" location and remain there until he feels that he is ready to join the class. If there is no location in your school for a “time out” student to sit, make one in your classroom. This should be behind something that will block his view of his classmates and will give him some privacy while he gets his emotions under control. Try having him listen to some calming music through headphones. Baroque classical music is an excellent choice.
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