To become productive and responsible adults, children need to learn impulse control. Here are some fun impulse control activities for kids to teach them this essential life skill!
There's no denying that impulsive behavior can be the cause of many underlying problems, some minor and some major.
If you don't teach your child impulse control and self-awareness, you could allow him to go down a path of misbehavior that can get much worse as he gets older.
However, impulse control is not an innate ability.In other words, children are not born with impulse control, they need to learn it!
But there is good news! You can implement impulse control strategies that will help your child learn and develop new habits. Simple impulse control games and impulse control activities for kids will allow you to introduce the concepts into your child's daily routine in such a fun way that he will be working without realizing it.
But how can you implement these games and activities? What kind of strategy should you have? Let's dive in and discover some safe activities!
What is impulse control in a child? How to know if there is a problem?
When a child has impulse control, he usually exhibits good behavior (at least in public; home comforts are an entirely different story). Having impulse control means they can control:
- your emotions
- and their actions (e.g. if they say not to do something, they don't)
Your child may have a problem and need to learn impulse control if:
- intentionally ignoring or disobeying instructions (this can also be asign of a headstrong child)
- often lie
- have adverse reactions to situations
- struggle with school structure
- encounter some overwhelming situations
Examples of impulsive behavior exhibited by younger children
You may be wondering what will help you spot impulsive behavior in your child. Here are some of the things you might notice:
- Destroying things like his toys.
- show wrath
- Having physical and verbal outbursts.
- Fight in school environment.
- fighting with his comrades
Why is my child so impulsive?
Okay mom, here's the thing: learning to control impulses is a normal part of child development.
You didn't do anything wrong, and lack of impulse control doesn't mean your child is a "bad boy."Rather, the REAL problem is simply that your child's brain has not yet developed the ability to pause reactions.
How to help a child with impulse control?
One of the first impulse control activities that children can do would be to help raise awareness of impulsive behavior.
For example, if your child is trying to get your attention by interrupting a conversation you're having, you can explain that you're doing something and why you need to wait your turn.Highlighting impulsive behavior helps build awareness and allows you to implement new ones to instill better habits.
Can impulse control be taught?
Yea! As a parent, here's what to do:
- set a good example
- signal when behavior is inappropriate
- try different impulse control games and activities for kids that can help teach this important skill through (controlled) experience
Benefits of impulse control for children
Children who have impulse skills may:
- Wait your turn in the games.
- Getting successful in the ranks
- resist peer pressure
- Demonstrate problem solving skills
- Experience more academic success
- Think about your answers before giving them.
- Have better critical thinking skills.
- Manage frustration by facing challenges and solving problems.
At what age should a child learn self-control?
Children can begin to learn self-control around age 4.
Here are some examples of normal impulse control behaviors in children by age:
- Children (2-3 years old)– Children of this age are notoriously impulsive and lack patience. While they may not be able to control their behaviors well at this age, you can start teaching them patience in small doses.
- Preschoolers (4-5 years old)– At this age, children have fewer tantrums and outbursts, but they still occur. Preschoolers are also developing better problem-solving skills.
- Elementary school children and preteens (ages 6 to 12)– Until now, children have better control over their bodily behavior. However, they can still be verbally impulsive.
- Teenagers (13 to 19 years old)– These children believe that they have complete control of their impulses, but when you compare a teenager with an adult, it is clear that this is not the case. They are more influenced by peer pressure, more risk-taking, more emotionally volatile, and focused on short-term benefits rather than long-term consequences.
As a parent, you need to provide your children with a lot of help and guidance when it comes to emotions and behavior. But as they get older, they'll be less dependent on you because you've helped to educate them since they were little.
However, if you haven't done anything about impulses and self-control yet (or feel like you need some guidance to improve your skills), you can still implement good impulse control habits.
How games and activities can help kids learn impulse control
Children love to play and complete activities. The accomplishment they feel at the end can equal a reward and feel good. Games are also an easier way to help them learn different things.
It's a great strategy to help you get on the same page with your child about how he's feeling and what he needs to do to develop momentum and self-control.
The best impulse control activities for kids
You might be wondering which games are good to help teach your kids about recklessness.
If you want to implement some impulse control techniques and strategies for kids to try at home, try these impulse control activities for kids.
Ask your child to repeat the instructions back to you.
Impulse control is following directions (even when your child doesn't want to)!
So a great way to encourage this is to ask your child to repeat the instructions back to you. You can encourage them to wait for you for ten minutes, so asking them to repeat will reinforce the behavior.
Set strong house rules
Set clear rules and explain them to your children, as well as the reason for them. If they know the "why" they are less likely to break them. Also explain your expectations, as well as any negative consequences resulting from breaking the rules.
burn off excess energy
I know from experience that making sure kids who lack impulse control get plenty of exercise helps.
Give them opportunities to run, jump, climb, roll, play hopscotch or tag, etc. and limit screen time. This will help children to be more self-disciplined. It is one of the most effective impulse control activities for kids that helps my son.
red light, green light
Here's a classic! I remember playing in the backyard with my parents and I played with my kids a lot when they were little too!
This is a game that doesn't require any materials, it's a simple action and reaction game. When you, the parent, say red light. Your child must stop. When you say green light they can start moving forward until you say red light one more time. You can add different levels of difficulty as they get used to your actions and responses.
This is another great game to play with kids and requires little to no materials to make. It is an action and response type of game.
How to play: As a parent, you can say "Simon says to jump on the spot" and your child should jump on the spot. However, if you just ask them to jump on the spot without saying the phrase "Simon says", they shouldn't.
If they do it anyway, they lose. It helps with listening skills and improves self-control in a fun way. My son had a lot of fun with this, and it's always been one of his favorite impulse control activities for kids because there's an obvious instant reward for listening.
How to play: When playing the Jenga game, you must be slow, calculating and strategic in removing a tile when it is your turn. Move too fast and the tower will collapse. Forget the focus on balance and the best piece to move and the tower will collapse.
You need self-control and awareness to be able to play and potentially become the winner in the end.
don't break the ice
Just like the Jenga game, your child should be aware of their movements and practice body control when playing "Don't Break the Ice". Using too much force will cause the ice to break and game over.
Impulse control activities for kids like this one help your child learn to show restraint, self-control, and awareness of their body and the movements they are making.
Yet another game that requires no materials, just some music!
How to play: Play music and ask your child or children to dance. When the music stops, they must freeze and stand still until the music starts again. This helps the child learn to control impulses while trying to stay still.
"Don't Eat the Marshmallow"
How to play:Sit your child down and place a marshmallow in front of him. Then ask them not to eat yet because you will have to leave the room for ten minutes. You promise that when you come back they can have two instead of one and then leave as promised.
It will be difficult for your child to overcome temptation, but it's a great way to teach a lesson and practice the skill.
It doesn't matter if your young children are good at sports. Playing organized sports is a great impulse control activity for kids because it teaches basic listening, sharing, and self-control skills.
Plus, they're fun and burn energy!
Children who don't understand their feelings are more likely to be impulsive. Help them by doing activities where they can label their feelings, which can help them become more aware.
Help your child learn to talk to you about his feelings rather than showing (acting out) how he feels.
problem solving activities
Another great way to teach impulse control is to observe activities that involve problem solving. Here are some impulse control problem solving activity ideas for kids:
- Hunting words
- logical puzzles
- activity sheets that involve math answers or clues.
It's a great way to help a child learn to take the time to learn the answer and not be impulsive, which can lead to a mistake.
Incorporate impulse control activities for kids into your routines
Impulse control is a learned behavior that we as parents need to help guide our children. I hope these booster activities for kids will help you teach this essential life skill to your kids!
Consistently reward your child if he shows impulse control
A great way to help promote impulse control is to consistently reward your child if he demonstrates impulse control. This reinforces good behavior and the habits you will develop, which will encourage you to do more.
Everyone loves a little praise and your kids are no different!
Then try to pick up the difficulty level and practice even more.making goalsand working for them before receiving a reward!
Remember, it's okay to remind young children to show restraint.
Remember that you need to encourage these behaviors in a positive way, so reminding your child that they can show restraint can help them do so.
The benefits of impulse control activities for children: final thoughts
It may seem that some children are born with natural impulse control, while others seem to lack it altogether. Just remember, if you have a child who completely lacks impulse control skills, you haven't done anything wrong and your child is not "evil".
They just need some support to learn a useful life skill. I know from experience. 🇧🇷
So, give your impulsive child an extra squeeze for being the special kid that he is, and then try having some fun with one of these impulse control activities for kids. Having fun together while learning something important? WIN WIN!
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