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6 Back-to-School Challenges for Impulsive Kids

By Bob Cunningham, EdM

Settling into any new school year can be tough for kids who struggle with impulsivity. This year, uncertainty and health and safety challenges may make it even harder. Here are six common problems impulsive kids run into when school starts—and what you can do to help.

1. Your child is rushing through summer reading and math work.

What it might look like: Summer work has fallen off everyone’s radar. Now that school is looming, your child is racing through the work way too fast, skipping over things and making careless errors.

How you can help: Impulsive kids may be extra impulsive when a task seems overwhelming. Help make the homework more manageable by breaking it down into small sections. Encourage your child to work on just one section at a time.

2. Your child has pre-judged this year’s teacher.

What it might look like: Your child heard a few negative comments about the teacher from older friends. Now anytime someone mentions the start of school, your child repeats the negative gossip.

How you can help: Kids who are impulsive often repeat the first thing that comes to mind. So talk about the traits your child likes in teachers—especially if you know that the new teacher has some of these characteristics. And compare the new teacher to good teachers your child had in the past.

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3. Your child is excited about school and forgets lesson materials.

What it might look like: No matter where learning is taking place, your child might be super excited about starting again. But with all the excitement, your child shows up for lessons without the necessary materials.

How you can help: Work with your child at night to get everything ready, whether it’s going into a backpack or waiting in a workspace at home. Check in with your child before bedtime to make sure it’s all in one place.

4. Your child overshares about what happened over the summer.

What it might look like: Most students talk about their summer experiences during the first few days of school. They’re often asked to share their stories with the class, too. But your child goes on and on and talks over others while they’re trying to share.

How you can help: Before school starts, role-play giving others a chance to talk. Talk about what is and isn’t appropriate to share, especially if your family has had difficult experiences over the summer.

5. Your child reacts in a negative way to what classmates say.

What it might look like: Other kids are talking about what they’re looking forward to in the new school year. Your child is anxious about school and responds by blurting out negative comments.

How you can help: Your child may unintentionally insult other kids by saying the first thing that comes to mind. Help your child practice more positive responses. Try phrases like “Sounds like fun,” “That would be awesome,” or even “I hope that happens.”

6. Your child tries to one-up classmates by exaggerating.

What it might look like: Impulsive kids tend to exaggerate. Your child might say things that aren’t true to impress other kids and gain their attention.

How you can help: Explain how you can be respectful of others while still sharing cool things about yourself. For example, when kids are talking about something they did over the summer, encourage your child to say things like “Sounds like you had a lot of fun. I had fun, too. I loved….” That way, your child won’t need to exaggerate.

Concerned about how your child will handle new routines and safety measures this year? Use this back-to-school update to share your concerns with the teacher.

Back-to-School Update: Tell Teachers How Your Child Is Doing

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