Topic Progress:

Response inhibition is the ability to stop one’s behavior at any time. This includes thoughts and feelings as well as actions. Unpleasant and stressful thoughts and feelings are linked to impulsive and problematic behavior. Thoughtful action is the opposite of behaving impulsively. Response inhibition, or impulse control, helps your teen think before acting.

A child with poor impulse control is more likely to engage in risky behavior or blurt out inappropriate things. She is not patient and finds it difficult to wait before jumping in, especially in anticipating of a pleasant activity. She may be unruly in class, and abandon or skimp on less preferred tasks.

Therefore, children with response inhibition tend to face multiple problems. They do or say things without forethought, which sometimes result in negative social responses. They will do whatever seems pleasurable at the time without considering commitments or obligations. They rush through chores and assignments, sacrificing quality and accuracy to get it done.

What do I do to help my child improve her/his response inhibition skill?

Select one or two problem behaviors that your child frequently demonstrate. Maybe it is disruptive behavior, not waiting to listen to instructions, or engaging in any other obsessive habits. Be as specific as possible, noting the frequency, severity, and consequences. Also, consider whether there is a common antecedent or trigger, what the typical situation is and who is involved. Formulate a goal for each behavior. Break it up into smaller goals if possible.

Before you start with the intervention, sit down with your child and explain the problem, process, and importance of achieving the goals that you have set. Have your child ask herself two important questions. What am I doing? What should I be doing? These two questions direct children to select specific behaviors, compare their behavior to their goal, and make concrete plans for improvement. They should plan for and reflect on balanced daily activities to do for pleasure or get a sense of achievement from.

Whether the goal is to improve behavior, master a skill, complete an assignment, accomplish something important, or relax or interact socially, your child should learn to approach this in a thoughtful and planned way. Have them think of and plan at least one activity of pleasure and one of mastery for each day, reflecting on it as they go along, using the worksheet provided. Make sure to include any unhelpful behaviors that you have noted.

Download and print worksheet here: Pleasure and Mastery Worksheet

Remind and make sure that your child finds time to complete some of the tasks every day and try to think of more each day, which is added to the list.