I have two boys who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). My older boy is seventeen. He has been homeschooled his entire life. So school has never been an issue. He follows an online curriculum and can fidget as much as he needs. He can also take breaks and stretch his legs as he needs. These things help with his hyperactivity but do nothing to help with his impulse control.
One of the things he has difficulty controlling is his sweet tooth. If I have snacks in the house and they are kept in the kitchen, he would eat them all in one day. He has a very hard time with moderation. We have to keep the snack foods in the master bedroom. We also have a small fridge in there to keep food cold.
To help him learn, I began to leave enough snacks out for the day. If he ate them all at once, he had no more snacks available for the rest of the day. He is now able to make two days’ worth of snacks last the two days. Hopefully, one day soon he can work up to a week’s worth of snacks lasting the week!
We go slow and adjust expectations as needed. It is helping him learn the skills he needs to eat in moderation and have some control. It also keeps him succeeding instead of always failing, which can lead to low self-esteem.
Another impulse that he has is a hard time controlling is physical body space. He likes to touch people. Especially his little brother. Time and time again, he would be disciplined due to hurting his brother.
We decided to put him in a sport that encouraged physical contact. This helps so much with controlling his energy, too. He can get out his need to be physical in the correct environment. He also loves playing hockey. We put up a punching bag that both boys can use to hit, run into, or kick. Our boys need to do this. They need an outlet. So we created an okay place for them to do just that.
The most important thing to do is to make places for your child to do the things their body needs to do without getting in trouble for doing it. Make an environment where they can succeed and feel good about themselves. It is so hard for some to control their impulses and in some instances that is unacceptable. Teaching them the skills to learn to control those and where they can let them out is key to success in raising them.
Here is another article from Sharon about a decision to help her child with impulse control.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.