Helping Kids Deal With Impulsivity

NOTE: FREE Webinar with Dr. Scott Turansky, Tuesday 9/22 at 9:00 pm EDT. "When Kids Get Angry Because They Don't Get Their Way." Learn more at the end of this post.

You could hear the tension in Lisa’s voice, “Living with a child who is impulsive is just down right frustrating!” Maybe you can relate to that statement. Every time you turn around your child is into some kind of trouble or is annoying someone.

Kids who lack self control need training and lots of it. Here’s an idea that will help you in the midst of this kind of challenging situation.

Fences Help Build Self Control

A you develop your parenting strategies, understand the concept of fences. A fence is an indication of a boundary that shouldn’t be crossed. A fence around your yard tells neighbors where the limits are and helps children and animals know where their freedom ends. The same is true in social relationships. Children need to know where the social boundaries are and when to stop before behavior becomes a nuisance to others. “But,” you might say, “I tell my son all the time where the fences are. He just doesn’t get it.”

Kids Need Training, not Harshness

Responding to fences comes with training, not just words. Your regular training can create an internal fence inside the heart. The conscience then has something to work with. For example, there’s a right way and a wrong way to enter a room. If you come and take over with your voice, then you’ve just done it the wrong way. With some work, kids can learn the right way to enter a room. You don’t need a lecture, yelling, or a consequence. You just need a firm fence. For example, you might tell your son that when he enters a room to stop and look before speaking. Then when he forgets you might put your hand up and say, “Oops. Wrong entrance. Go back outside the door and try again.” That firmness doesn’t require emotional intensity. It’s just a fence. And kids need training, not harshness, to recognize it.

Children who do annoying things habitually jump fences. They need parents who are very involved in their everyday lives. The fences that facilitate social relationships can be complicated at times. Teasing has limits, and knowing when silliness or goofiness should end isn’t always easy to determine. Parents must step in at these times to help their children develop the social fences needed for successful relationships.

The goal of parent-control is to encourage self-control. Don’t be afraid to provide firm limits for your children. They need those external controls for a while in order to develop internal control.

After your child has learned to live within the boundaries and guidelines you’ve established for relationships, you gradually release the control and allow your child to rely on the internal fences that have developed as a result of your training. The work you do during this time has long-lasting benefits. By focusing on impulsivity you will not only help your child socially, but you’ll also be developing the tools to deal with temptation as well.

Supernatural Help is Available 

Remember that part of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 is self-control. It's something that God also wants to develop in your child. It takes work but it's worth it in the end.

To learn more about developing self control and sensitivity in children, take a look at chapter 7 in the book Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN. To learn more about developing the conscience, you’ll want to read Motivate Your Child, a new book that talks about developing the conscience and internal motivation in children.

Do you use anger to deal with the anger you see in your kids?  Anger is great for identifying problems, but bad for solving them. It damages relationships. Is there another way? Let's get a dialog started about this. Leave a question or comment here on this blog or on our Biblical Parenting FB Fan page.

Tune in to the FREE Webinar by Dr. Scott Turansky on Tuesday September 22 at 9:00 pm EDT. There will be a presentation by Dr. Turansky as well as time for your questions. 


Register Now!


Milan Tomic

Hi. I’m Designer of Blog Magic. I’m CEO/Founder of ThemeXpose. I’m Creative Art Director, Web Designer, UI/UX Designer, Interaction Designer, Industrial Designer, Web Developer, Business Enthusiast, StartUp Enthusiast, Speaker, Writer and Photographer. Inspired to make things looks better.

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  1. My son is 14, tall, very good-looking, and very persuasive. He is becoming used to getting his own way - I am amazed (and concerned) at how these qualities are getting him anything he wants in high school right now.

    By the grace of God and with many mistakes, we have been helping him learn how to control his impulses and develop a conscience for years and he has come a looong way. But there is still a long day to go. He has a sweet heart and a desire to please, but he also has a really strong will.

    At this age, what do you do if you ask them to do something and they won't? They just keep talking loudly over you?

    And now I have one more question, which I would be so grateful if you would address as it is causing me so much distress and hopelessness right now because it is a repeated cycle and I can't make it work and I can't think my way out of it yet.

    So add to the above scenario with my son that if he ignores or talks over me and try to hold the fence in place, my husband, who can't stand conflict, always comes to the rescue of my son.

    I'm sure you just wanted a little comment and that this is not the place for this long plea for help, but this cycle makes this strong, Christian Mom want to quit and I don't know what I can quit: I don't want to actually want to quit my marriage or trying to raise godly, loving, appropriate kids but I can't fight against my kids' natural inclination to do whatever they want and my husband always finding fault for the way in which I approach the kids. And taking me to task in a way that completely fogs whatever the kids have done and always makes me the problem. I feel so stuck and almost hopeless - but for God.

    We probably need counseling but it would need to be someone really good because we are both highly educated and in positions of authority and talking with my husband is like talking with a highly skilled lawyer and trying to get something changed is like trying to get something past in congress. Really.

    We also would need some anonymity. I don't even know how to find a good Christian family counselor in our city. Do you?

    1. Hi Sylvan,
      Maybe you'd like to email me privately. We do phone coaching - that might be really helpful for you. I can talk to you about how it works. Email