Impulse Control: Managing Behaviors of ADHD Kids

If your child has ADHD, it may be hard for him to control his impulses. He may act before he thinks at home and at school. But there are things you can do to help.


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Use Behavior Therapy

Let your child know what behaviors you expect of him. Make simple, clear rules. When he loses control, have set consequences, like time-outs or losing privileges.

It’s equally important to encourage the behaviors you do want. Keep an eye out for good behavior. When he keeps his impulses in check, reward him. A little praise can go a long way. You could also give him stickers or take him for ice cream.

Ask your doctor about counselors in your area who give parent training programs. They’ll teach you ways to manage your child's behaviors.

Work With Teachers

Your child spends most of the day at school. Any behavior skills your child learns at the therapist's office or at home need to be reinforced at school. Make teachers your allies. Keep in close touch with all of your child's teachers.

  • Ask frequently how your child is behaving in school.
  • Work with teachers to find solutions for any problems that come up.


If you've ever sent your child outside to burn off some energy when he or she was misbehaving, you were on the right track. Studies find that exercise helps control impulses and other behavior problems in kids with ADHD.

Think about signing your child up for a sports team, such as basketball, soccer, or baseball. Playing a sport not only gives kids exercise, but it also teaches them important social skills, such as how to follow rules and take turns.

Talk About ADHD Medicines

Your doctor may recommend medications for your child. They act on the brain chemicals, like dopamine, that can worsen impulsive behavior.

It can take some trial and error to find the right medicine and dose to manage your child's impulses, and they may need to be used along with other treatments.

Stay Involved

It's common to get frustrated when you're raising a child with ADHD. You’ll feel more in control if you take an active part in your child's treatment.

  • Learn as much as you can about ADHD and impulsive behaviors.
  • Keep in close contact with your child's doctor, teachers, and therapists.
  • Join a support group to learn from other parents who have been through the same problems.

Finally, don't give up. You’ll find solutions to your child's impulse problems if you stay consistent and involve a team of teachers, therapists, and other experts.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on June 01, 2019


National Institute of Mental Health: "What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?"

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children."

Verret, C. Journal of Attention Disorders, September 2010.

HEARD Alliance: "Inattention and Impulsivity."

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: "Your Adolescent -- Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)."

Verma, R. Journal of Pediatric Neuroscience, January-June 2011.

Child Mind Institute: “Behavioral Treatments for Kids with ADHD.”

Help “ADD/ADHD Parenting Tips.”

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