How to Discipline a Child With Low Impulse Control

By Tiffany Raiford
Kids are naturally impulsive, but that doesn't mean they should get away with misbehaving.
Kids are naturally impulsive, but that doesn't mean they should get away with misbehaving.

Children, as a general rule, are naturally impulsive. It isn’t uncommon for your child to act long before she actually thinks about the consequences of her actions. This impulsive behavior can make you worried about your child’s safety, irritated by her lack of discipline and nervous that she might make a big mistake. If your child has low impulse control and you are working on teaching her the self-discipline she needs to control her behavior, you still need to discipline her for her wrongdoings.

Make sure your child is well aware of the different rules you have in your house and that anytime he breaks one he will suffer a consequence, advises the Family Education website, part of the Pearson Education family. Discussing the rules with your child helps remind him what he can and cannot do if he wants to stay out of trouble. Informing him ahead of time that you will discipline him for breaking the rules can make it easier for you to impose discipline because he will be expecting it.

Take something away from your child when she acts on impulse. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, this is an effective form of discipline for children. Depending on her age, you might take away the privilege of going on the next play date she has scheduled, you might take away her favorite toy or you might take away the freedom to use the phone or computer for the day. This will teach her that acting on impulse means missing something she thoroughly enjoys, and might curb her impulse the next time.

Place your child in an area of your home that offers no distractions, such as television or toys, and call it time out. According to Kids Health, sending your child to time out for approximately one minute for each year of his life is a good punishment. This gives your child a few minutes to sit still, free of distraction, and think about exactly what it is that he did wrong and how he might better handle himself in the future to avoid this punishment.

Use consistency when it comes to disciplining your child. You should send your child to time out or take away a privilege every single time he breaks a rule, not just when it’s convenient. For example, letting it slide once or twice because his actions didn’t hurt anyone, or because no one else saw what he did, does not teach him a lesson on proper behavior.

About the Author

Tiffany Raiford has several years of experience writing freelance. Her writing focuses primarily on articles relating to parenting, pregnancy and travel. Raiford is a graduate of Saint Petersburg College in Florida.