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What Are the Treatments for Impulse Control Disorder in Children?

By Brooke Nichols ; Updated April 18, 2017

Impulse control disorders can cause significant impairment in socialization, school performance and overall mental health. There are different types of impulse control disorders; the symptoms of the individual will determine the appropriate treatment.

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Suffering from an impulse control disorder is distressful for children. Types of impulse control disorders can include trichotillomania, kleptomania, pyromania and intermittent explosive disorder. These disorders can result in academic, social or legal problems and may risk harm to self or others.


Treating impulse control disorders in children enhances self-esteem, improves the child's level of functioning and decreases his distress. Teaching strategies to increase self-control is beneficial in decreasing maladaptive behavior.

Reward Systems

Establishing short-term goals and creating a reward system for desired behavior is effective for children with impulse control disorders. These children need consistent and positive praise for appropriate behavior. An example of a reward system includes sticker charts.


Enrolling a child with impulse control disorder in counseling is important. Counseling provides the child a safe place to discuss the symptoms and feelings that are fueling the condition. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a specific technique that teaches skills to improve self-control.


Taking medication for impulse control disorders may be necessary if functioning is severely impaired or the impulsive behaviors are a threat to the child or others. Types of disorders, such as trichotillomania (excessive pulling of one's hair) or pyromania (fire setting) usually require medical intervention.

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About the Author

Brooke Nichols is a licensed professional counselor in Kansas and Missouri who has been writing since April 2009. She provides mental health services to consumers needing consultation for emotional and behavioral needs. Nichols educates families on these needs with a practice specializing in trauma and acute psychiatric care for children. She holds a master's degree in psychology from Antioch University Seattle.

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