Sometimes it seems that teens have the impulse control of a, well, teenager. One moment, they seem like rational human beings and then they do something so incredibly reckless, you cannot help but wonder what they were thinking. Fortunately, there’s a scientific answer: it’s all about the brain.
Educating Your Teen about Impulse Control
The teenage brain is still in the process of developing. This process not only leads to teenagers pushing boundaries and searching for individuality; it promotes risk-taking behaviors with little regard for consequence. The behaviors can range from mood issues resulting in confrontation and “borrowing” without asking, to substance abuse, kleptomania, compulsive sexuality, and many others.
As a parent of a teen with impulse control issues, there are several steps that you can take to make the problem easier. Typically, impulse control comes with age; however, a few tips can help relieve tension until that time comes. The most important thing to remember is to stay positive. As with many other situations, by losing your temper, you only add fuel to the fire; what could have been a calm discussion turns into a power struggle.
Try to keep communication open. While it may be tempting for a parent to simply lay down the law, a real conversation is a two-way street. Setting a strict system of cause-and-effect (break the rules, deal with the consequences) does not teach your child why impulse control is important; sitting down and talking about the effect of recklessness does. Even though there are situations when remaining patient can prove difficult, in the end, the best way to teach your child impulse control is to exhibit impulse control yourself.
In some cases, impulse control issues may be symptoms of a deeper problem such as ADHD or anxiety. If your teen exhibits behaviors that could point to something else or your teen’s impulse control issues are getting out of hand, it may be time to consider professional help.
Solstice can help
If your teen is struggling with controlling their impulsive behavior, Solstice can help. Solstice is a residential treatment center for teen girls ages 14-18 struggling with emotional and behavioral issues like defiance, ADHD, substance use, and trauma.