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The Child with Attention Problems - Impulsive Behaviours

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Impulsivity is defined as acting without thinking or the inability to wait. People who are impulsive appear to do things suddenly, without any planning ahead or considering the effects of their actions. In children, severe impulsivity includes not being able to wait before answering a question, or answering even before it is completed; often interrupting or intruding on others; running out into the street without stopping and looking, and being unable to wait for things that they may desire. Another way of thinking about impulsivity is as the lack of what psychologists call “inhibitory control”.

Defining and explaining impulsivity within the research community is difficult. There is no agreement about impulsivity. It appears to be a complex behaviour. Two common models used to explain impulsivity are:

  • People who have a hard time holding back. They act suddenly, without thinking or planning. There is no self-monitoring of their behaviour. This group is often described as lacking “inhibitory control”. That is, they lack the ability to put the brakes on motor actions, verbal actions or thought processes.
  • People who cannot delay gratification. These are people who may know that waiting or doing something that they may not desire (like homework) is best, but they can’t repress their desires for the immediate reward (going out with friends). This group is often described as being reward dependent or stimulation seeking. Often, children who have difficulty delaying gratification as observed in their behaviour, also have problems regulating (controlling) their emotions. In summary we can say that there are those who act quickly with confidence, those who act quickly without thinking and those who know better, but can’t control their desire to act.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the behaviours associated with impulsivity change over time as children move to new stages of development. This will be evident in the different age groups in this resource.

The ability to control impulsive behaviour is associated with executive functions. As a child matures, they develop skills and knowledge to control and regulate their desires and emotions. There appear to be two developmental points where there is an evident disjoint between emotional drives and executive control. The first developmental stage is early childhood when emotions drive behaviour. The second stage is early adolescence, when the brain is reorganizing itself in preparation for adulthood. During both these stages, adults generally have two responsibilities; one is an understanding of this disjoint and the other is help in the development of regulatory skills to reduce it.

Some children and youth, because of neurodevelopmental problems, insults to the brain or mental health disorders, may have a harder time regulating emotions and appear to be impulsive as a result. Teachers need to be able to understand what is driving impulsive behaviours in order to address these behaviours in their class.

Mental Health problems associated with impulsive behaviours, include anxiety, addictions, unstable moods, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This document will focus on primarily on impulsive behaviours associated with ADHD.











If we look at babies, one sees behaviours that are purely “stimulus controlled” and “impulsive”. Babies do not act, they react to either internal (hunger, discomfort or fatigue) or external (a familiar face) stimulation. As infants enter their first year of life, things begin to change. They become wilful or goal directed. They are no longer just reactive. There are certain things that they want, such as a favourite toy and they will insist on it. Often, they are able to resist simple distractions or alternatives, when they want something. Parents may feel that their child is still impulsive, but the child is beginning to regulate their own behaviour and control their impulsivity.

With the development of language in year two, things begin to change rapidly. Children now begin to learn to express what they want and also what they can and can’t do. They learn to plan and to judge the consequences of their behaviour. They are learning “conscious control” of their behaviour. This ability to consciously control one’s behaviour through goal setting, planning and reflecting is often called the beginnings of “executive control” or “executive functions”. This process will develop throughout their childhood and into adult life.
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During early childhood, impulsive behaviour can be very common in many children. Part of the learning processes is developing both physical and emotional control. Children learn first at home, through parental instructions and later at school, through teacher lead activities, how to regulate themselves.

Impulsivity is expressed in different ways in boys and girls. Generally, boys will appear more hyperactive than girls. On the other hand, girls may appear more talkative than boys. This distinction has to do with different developmental trajectories in the childhood. Girls develop language at a more rapid rate than boys, whereas boys develop gross motor skills sooner.

Teachers in Kindergarten and the early grades should not be too concerned about either hyperactivity or excessive talking in children alone. Instead, they should be concerned when a child is not able to respond to teacher commands or is unable to learn and practice classroom rules.

Teachers should also distinguish between children who have difficulty regulating their behaviours and children who may be under stimulated academically. Often, bright children who are under stimulated may appear hyperactive or talkative.

Early childhood educators and kindergarten teachers can monitor the following domains of development and expect the following behaviours as age appropriate:

Social Domain
  • Making friends – children should be able to play co-operatively with another child. They should be able to seek out another child for play. They should be able to share materials and toys. They should be able exchange ideas and roles in play dyads. They should be able to sustain play with others.
  • Conflict resolution: They should be able to express what they want. They should begin to regulate their feelings. They should begin to listen to what other children want. They should begin to work towards solutions when there are conflicting goals. They should begin to recognize consequences and accept solutions.
  • Peer group skills: They should observe before entering play. They should offer relevant ideas, roles and materials for play. They should be willing to accept available roles in play situations.
  • Cooperative skills: They should be able to identify emotions of others. They should be able to regulate their own emotions & behaviours according to the needs of others. They should begin to show respect for the belongings of other children. They should begin to listen, think and respond appropriately when others speak during group activities.

Emotional Domain
  • Recognizing emotions: They should begin to recognize their different emotions and give them names. They should be able to increase and decrease emotional energy in keeping with the situation. They should be able to express negative emotions in a way that doesn’t harm others. At this age, children express understand simple emotions such as happiness, sadness, surprise and fear.
  • Regulating emotions and related behaviours: They should be able to delay gratification. They should be able to persist when frustrated. They should be able to use language to express needs and regulate their emotions. They should be able to use strategies for self-calming. They should be increasing their ability to cope with challenges and disappointments. In each case, these skills are only beginning and may be sustained for only a short period of time.
  • Developing positive attitudes: They should be able to persevere as demands increase, but only within a reasonable range of their ability. They should be able to accept defeats and mistakes. They should be able to ask for and accept help. They should be able to express satisfaction when accomplishing a task.

Communication and Language Domain
  • Conversing with peers & adults: They should be able to learn to adjust language use that is appropriate for cultural, age appropriate, social status and sex of listener. They should be able to have longer interactions. They should feel comfortable speaking in front of groups.
  • Listening to others: They should be able to listen to others, without distraction or interruption for longer stretches of time. They should be able to practice appropriate turn taking. They should be able to understand and follow instructions up to three steps.

Cognitive Domain:
  • They should be using language to regulate their behaviours. Self-talk should be a possible regulatory strategy.
  • They should be able to monitor their own behaviour.
  • They should be able to identify problems, plan ahead, share in solutions, recognize consequences and take responsibility for actions.
  • They should be able to see the other point–of-view.

Physical Domain:
  • This is a time of increased levels of physical activity. Children are rapidly developing gross motor skills. They are increasing coordination, speed and endurance. At the same time they should be developing the ability to regulate these activities according to appropriate situations. On the other hand, teachers should schedule appropriate opportunities for the expression of physical activities. This is especially necessary for boys, whose gross motor skills are rapidly developing during this time.

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Children who have problems with hyperactivity and impulsivity often have problems specific to the following developmental domains:
Social Domain:
  • Making Friends –impulsive children have a hard time making friends or retaining a best friend for very long
  • Conflict Resolution – impulsivity often precipitates conflict, so it is not uncommon for impulsive children to be involved in fights, especially among boys.
  • Peer play – often this group of children are not openly accepted by their peers
  • Cooperative skills – impulsive children have difficulty cooperating with peers and often appear immature in this respect compared to their peer group

Emotional Domain:
  • Recognizing emotions- impulsive children may appear delayed in recognizing both their own and others’ emotions compared to their peers. They may have a hard managing their emotional energy. Their responses to events, both positive and negative may be more extreme
  • Regulating emotions & related behaviours - impulsive children have problems with delayed gratification and this can result in wanting rewards before completing tasks. This may result in emotional outbursts. As well, poor inhibitory control can also lead to problems regulating feelings.
  • Developing positive emotions – constant criticism for inappropriate behaviour from adults and peer rejection can undermine the development of positive emotional skills and the ability to accept setbacks and defeats. It can make a child less resilient.

Communication and Language Domain:
  • Conversation with peers and adults – they have a hard time staying on topic or being able to clearly state a point. Their conversations may drift off on a tangent before returning to the topic at hand. They have problems with voice modulation, which may appear as speaking too loud for the situation.
  • Listening to others- they often appear to speak out of turn or interject information that may be unrelated to the conversation.

Cognitive Domain:
  • Impulsive children lack strategies to regulate their behaviour, such as self-talk.
  • They may not be able to see long term consequences of their behaviours.
  • They may not understand another person’s point of view.

Physical Domain:
  • Impulsive children are highly accident prone. This has more to do with impulsive actions and less to do with gross motor development.


Children who are impulsive will often act without thinking in class. They may begin school work before teachers finish giving instructions or begin a test before they have read the instructions. They may answer questions in class before the teacher is finished speaking. They may break classroom rules without thinking. In the playground they may speak out of turn or not be able to wait their turn when playing games. Overall, these children are at a higher risk for being accident prone. They tend to not stop and think before they act. In some case they gravitate to risky behaviour, which further compounds the danger of serious accidents.

Children who are impulsive will often appear to be overly active in class and out in the school yard. They are often described as “constantly on the go” or “driven by a motor”. In class, they cannot sit still. Often, they will jump out of their seats, or stand up and work beside their desks. In kindergarten, they are unable to practice rest time. They may also move from group to group during group work time. As well, they may be seen to be constantly running around or climbing trees when out in the school yard.

Children who are impulsive will often appear to have a high degree of unnecessary movements such as restlessness, being fidgety or constantly squirming. Usually they will fidget with their hands and feet or squirm in their seats.

Children who are impulsive have a hard time engaging in quiet activities. They often appear to talk too much or too loud. They have a difficult time not intruding into other peoples’ conversations or activities. Sometimes they make inappropriate comments because they say whatever pops in their heads.





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Behaviours associated with impulsivity, that do not seem to be age appropriate, that are identified by teachers as disruptive, that occur in a variety of settings, that affect learning in the classroom, that persist for at least 6 months and that cannot be attributed to either cultural or other external events should be of concern to both parents and teachers. Often hyperactive behaviours appear as well.

Impulsive behaviours will include:
  • Children who can’t wait their turn
  • Children who blurt out comments
  • Children who interrupt and intrude into conversations

Hyperactive behaviours will include:
  • Children who constantly fidget and squirm
  • Children who are constantly running around and climbing objects
  • Children who constantly get up and leave their seat
  • Children who are constantly on the go
  • Children who can’t play quietly
  • Children who talk excessively

If a child exhibits at least 6 of the above problem behaviours, teachers and support staff should encourage parents to have their child referred to a paediatrician, psychologist, psychological associate or psychiatrist for assessment and to determine whether they have a diagnosable attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. (please see Beliefs subchapter for information about ADHD)

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During early childhood and into middle childhood there seems to be a strong link between impulsivity and motor activity. Impulsive children appear to be very active and very talkative. They appear to be always on the go. They have a hard time sitting still and are often seen fidgeting and squirming when seated. They will acknowledge that it is painful for them to sit still. They also are very talkative and in many cases have a hard time modulating their speech. As a result, they may speak too loudly. It must be remembered that speech is a motor activity, so if a child has difficulty regulating motor function, it will affect the way they speak.

As children enter into middle childhood they should be developing skills that help them to regulate both impulsive behaviours and emotions. High energy, especially in boys is natural, but they should be aware of appropriate contexts for the expression of physical activities. Teachers should also be sensitive to the needs of children to exercise physical drives and to the diverse attention capacities of their students. Teachers should begin to be concerned about students who appear to be impulsive in their behaviours or have a hard time regulating their physical behaviours in class, especially if it affects their ability to learn.

Teachers should monitor the following domains of development and expect the following behaviours to be age appropriate:
Social Domain:
  • Making Friends – children should have a best friend. They should be able to play group games. They should be able to interact with more pro social skills. They should show an interest in acting appropriately for adults.
  • Conflict Resolution – they should understand the importance of following rules. They should look towards finding solutions to problems. They should be developing a sense of right and wrong. They should understand the connection between actions and consequences.
  • Cooperation – they should be developing the ability to understand the point of view of others. This should be a building block for developing empathy. They should be increasing their help to others. They should participate in co-operative and sharing behaviours.
Emotional Domain:
  • Recognizing Emotions – children should continue to increase their understanding of the sources of their emotional states, especially complex emotions like pride, gratitude, jealousy and anxiety. They should be improving their ability to articulate these emotions. They should also be improving their ability to regulate emotions through private speech, perspective taking and empathy. When they struggle with emotions like anger, fear and anxiety, they should be able to learn and apply strategies to regulate these emotions. They should be developing positive attitudes to learning, persistence and engagement.
Communication & language Domain:
  • Conversing with peers and adults – they should be developing their ability to adapt messages to the needs of the listener. They should be fully versed in appropriate turn taking and listening skills. They should be able to modulate their voice according to the situation.
Cognitive Domain:
  • Self-regulation – children should be able to regulate attention, block out distractions and focus on tasks at hand.
  • Problem solving – children should not be reactive to obstacles, but develop problem solving skills. They should be able to assess a problem, develop a plan and proceed to solution. They should be able to monitor their behaviour.
Physical Domain:
  • Children should be fully in control of their physical actions. They should be coordinated. They should be able to judge situations appropriately and act according to rules.



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As children begin to progress through primary school, they are expected to be able to control their physical and verbal behaviours. Part of classroom management involves teaching students appropriate social discourse skills and the ability to stay focused in order to engage in learning. Some students appear to have a harder time either regulating their physical behaviour in class or recognizing the appropriate cues for social language. These children may not meet criteria for ADHD, but they do struggle because of impulsivity and hyperactivity.

Children who are impulsive will often act without thinking in class. They may begin school work before teachers finish giving instructions or begin a test before they have read the instructions. They may answer questions in class before the teacher is finished speaking. They may break classroom rules without thinking. In the playground they may speak out of turn or not be able to wait their turn when playing games. Overall, these children are at a higher risk for being accident prone. They tend to not stop and think before they act. In some case they gravitate to risky behaviour which further compounds the danger of serious accidents.

Children who are impulsive will often appear to be overly active in class and out in the school yard. They are often described as “constantly on the go” or “driven by a motor”. In class, they cannot sit still. Often, they will jump out of their seats, or stand up and work beside their desks. In kindergarten, they are unable to practice rest time. They may move from group to group during group work time. They may also be seen to be constantly running around or climbing trees when out in the school yard.

Children who are impulsive will often appear to have a high degree of unnecessary movements such as restlessness, being fidgety or constantly squirming. Usually they will fidget with their hands and feet or squirm in their seats.

Children who are impulsive have a hard time engaging in quiet activities. They often appear to talk too much or too loud. They have a difficult time not intruding into other peoples’ conversations or activities. Sometimes they make inappropriate comments because they say whatever pops in their heads.

Children who have problems with impulsivity often have problems specific to the following developmental domains:
Social Domain:
  • Making friends –they have a hard time making friends or retaining a best friend for very long
  • Conflict resolution – impulsivity often precipitates conflict, so it is not uncommon to be involved in fights, especially among boys.
  • Peer play – often this group of children are not openly accepted by their peers
  • Cooperative skills – these are very weak in this group of children. Often they appear immature when compared to their peer group

Emotional Domain:
  • Recognizing emotions- they may appear delayed compared to their peers. They may have a hard managing their emotional energy. Their responses to events, both positive and negative may be more extreme
  • Regulating emotions & related behaviours - They have problems with delayed gratification and this can result in wanting rewards before completing tasks. This may result in emotional outbursts. As well, poor inhibitory control can also lead to problems regulating feelings.
  • Developing positive emotions – constant criticism for inappropriate behaviour from adults and peer rejection can undermine the development of positive emotional skills and undermine the ability to accept setbacks and defeats. It can make a child less resilient.

Communication and Language Domain:
  • Conversation with peers and adults – They have a hard time staying on topic or being able to clearly state a point. Their conversations may drift off on a tangent before returning to the topic at hand. They have problems with voice modulation, which may appear as speaking too loud for the situation.
  • Listening to others- They often appear to speak out of turn or interject information that may be unrelated to the conversation.

Cognitive Domain:
  • They lack strategies to regulate their behaviour, such as self-talk.
  • They may not be able to see long term consequences of their behaviours.
  • They may not understand another person’s point of view.

Physical Domain:
  • They are highly accident prone. This has more to do with impulsive actions and hyperactivity, and less to do with gross motor development.








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Behaviours associated with hyperactivity and impulsivity, that do not seem to be age appropriate, that are identified by teachers as disruptive, that occur in a variety of settings, that affect learning in the classroom, that persist for at least 6 months and that cannot be attributed to either cultural or other external events should be of concern to both parents and teachers.

Impulsive behaviours will include:
  • Children who can’t wait their turn
  • Children who blurt out comments
  • Children who interrupt and intrude into conversations

Hyperactive behaviours will include:
  • Children who constantly fidget and squirm
  • Children who are constantly running around and climbing objects
  • Children who constantly get up and leave their seat
  • Children who are constantly on the go
  • Children who can’t play quietly
  • Children who talk excessively

If a child exhibits at least 6 of the above problems behaviours, teachers and support staff should encourage parents to have their child referred to a paediatrician, psychologist, psychological associate or psychiatrist for assessment and to determine whether they have a diagnosable attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. (please see Beliefs subchapter for information about ADHD)

ADHD rarely appears by itself. Many children with ADHD also have learning problems and mental health problems. Learning problems include problems with reading fluency and comprehension, problems with understanding language and expressing themselves as well as problems with writing. To a lesser degree some children also have problems with math. Mental health problems include anxiety and mood disorders. As well, some children have oppositional behaviour problems.


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As children enter adolescence, their impulsivity begins to take on a different profile. Motor activity begins to become more internalized. Teenagers who are impulsive become more restless. They often describe the need to be somewhere else. They also often talk about being bored. Researchers have found a link between impulsivity, poor delayed gratification and motivation. Teenagers who are impulsive have a hard time staying focused on one activity. They may begin with the best of intentions, but when the task no longer gives immediate reward, they lose interest by announcing “this is boring”. In fact, they crave immediate reward for their activity, so they move onto something else and usually repeat their loss of interest. Activities, like computer games attract this group of teens because they offer immediate rewards as they play. Activities that have delayed rewards (gratification) cannot hold these teenagers.

The level of impulsivity children and teenagers display is on a continuum. It is fair to say that during early childhood almost all children will show some degree of impulsivity. As they learn to be mobile they will want to move around, as they develop language they will want to talk and as they learn to like things, they will develop desires. One of the roles of parenting is to teach children to be able to manage these behaviours appropriately. Through educating, modelling and setting limits on behaviour, parents begin to teach both appropriate behaviour and the control of impulsive tendencies. In some cases, children still struggle at managing their impulsive drives. These children may have poor “inhibitory control”.


As children move into early adolescence they begin to experience physical, emotional and cognitive changes. This is a time when they begin to mature beyond the more vulnerable state of childhood, yet they lack the competencies of adulthood. This is a time when they begin to separate from their parents, identify more with their peer group and become more aware of themselves, initially their physical self. It is also time of developmental disjoint between their emotional development and their self-regularity ability. As a result, they often over-react emotionally. Also, they appear to be attracted to activities with high levels of arousal. They often look for things that are exciting. This frequently shows itself in risk-taking behaviours or getting easily bored by activities that do not hold either a high reward for them or do not have a high level of excitement.

Teachers may wish to monitor the following domains of development and expect the following behaviours to be age appropriate:
Social Domain:
  • Friendships – in early adolescence, peer group friendships become very important. Students are redefining their identities in groups, clubs and even gangs. Girls, who are developing faster than boys may also begin to explore romantic pairing. There may be the risk of attraction to older boys who are further along in development.
  • Conflict resolution – young adolescents may have difficulty with conflict resolution because they may react with high intense feelings to situations. This may appear as very quick emotional responses to conflict situations. As well, problem solving during heightened arousal may not work.
  • Cooperation – young adolescence should be learning to work with their peers during this time and to develop appropriate social engagement skills with adults. Yet, they may tend to exclude their parents from this process.

Emotional Domain:
  • Regulating emotions - In some students during the early stages of adolescence some emotional feelings may be easily triggered. This is because emotions may be experienced at a heightened level relative to childhood. As a result, regulating feelings in the middle of an emotional situation may be challenging. For most teens, this is not a risk situation.
  • Recognizing emotions - This a time for students to learn more about the changes that are taking place within themselves and to develop an understanding of the changes taking place within their emotions.

Physical Domain:
  • In early adolescence, students will begin to experience physical changes. This is the time for the onset of puberty. Their bodies begin to change. Most evident is the beginning of the development of physical sexual traits. Girls usually begin this process before boys. In boys, this process may produce physical awkwardness, as well as self-consciousness, usually around the changing of their voice and possible facial blemishes. Girls may also be self-conscious of initial changes.
  • Physical behaviour – there are often changes associated with sleep patterns and appetite. Teens become more nocturnal and have a hard time getting to bed on time and getting up in the morning. They require at least 8-10 hrs of sleep. Teachers may experience students with poor arousal regulation in their classes.

Communication & language domain:
  • Conversing with peers: There may be some awkwardness across genders. Boys may feel especially self-conscious speaking out in class, especially around topics dealing with emotions and relationships. Boys may also be self–conscious around their changing voices. Though performing communication skills may appear to be poor, competencies are in place and students should be able to converse appropriately when they feel safe.
  • Talking to adults: appropriate skills should be in place.

Cognitive Domain:
  • Self-regulation – children should be able to regulate attention, block out distractions and focus on tasks at hand.
  • Problem solving – children should not be reactive to obstacles, but develop problem solving skills. They should be able to access, develop a plan and proceed to solution. They should be able to monitor their behaviour.





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Some adolescents have a hard time regulating both their emotions and their behaviours. Development during this time of life is not consistent. Some students with poor regulatory skills will continue to present as hyperactive. For others with poor regulatory skills, their hyperactivity will be replaced by feelings of inner restlessness. In both cases, impulsive behaviours will continue. Problems with delayed gratification, with acting without thinking, and reacting with strong emotional responses will still be evident. These behaviours can in turn lead to poor decision making and risk taking.

Young adolescents who have problems with hyperactivity and impulsivity also often have problems specific to the following developmental domains:
Social Domain:
  • Making friends – they may gravitate to a peer group that is also looking for high levels of stimulation. Risky behaviour and substance abuse are possible
  • Conflict resolution – impulsivity often precipitates conflict, so it is not uncommon to be involved in fights, especially among boys.

Emotional Domain:
  • Recognizing emotions- they may appear delayed compared to their peers. They may have a hard managing their emotional energy. Their responses to events, both positive and negative may be more extreme
  • Regulating emotions & related behaviours - They have problems with delayed gratification and this can result in wanting rewards before completing tasks. This may result in emotional outbursts. As well, poor inhibitory control can also lead to problems regulating feelings.
  • Developing positive emotions – Adolescents with poor regulatory skills have a difficult time developing positive emotions. They have higher rates of negative ideation and emotions.

Communication and Language Domain:
  • Conversation with peers and adults – They have a hard time staying on topic or being able to clearly state a point. Their conversations may drift off on a tangent before returning to the topic at hand. They have problems with voice modulation, which may appear as speaking too loud for the situation.
  • Listening to others- Impulsive youth often appear to speak out of turn or interject information that may be unrelated to the conversation.

Cognitive Domain:
  • Impulsive adolescents lack strategies to regulate their behaviour, such as self-talk.
  • They may not be able to see long term consequences of their behaviours.
  • They may not understand another person’s point of view.

Physical Domain:
  • Impulsive adolescents are highly accident prone. This should also be kept in mind when they reach the age where they can drive.

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Behaviours associated with hyperactivity and impulsivity, that do not seem to be age appropriate, that are identified by teachers as disruptive, that occur in a variety of settings, that affect learning in the classroom, that persist for at least 6 months and that cannot be attributed to either cultural or other external events should be of concern to both parents and teachers.

Impulsive behaviours will include:
  • Students who can’t wait their turn (appears to very impatient)
  • Students who blurt out comments
  • Students who interrupt and intrude into conversations

Hyperactive behaviours will include:
  • Students who constantly fidget and squirm
  • Students who are full of inner restlessness
  • Students who constantly need to be somewhere else (often feels bored)
  • Students who are constantly on the go
  • Students who can’t play quietly or spend time on their own
  • Students who talk excessively

If a student exhibits at least 6 of the above problems behaviours, teachers and support staff should encourage parents to have their child referred to a paediatrician, psychologist, psychological associate or psychiatrist for assessment and to determine whether they have a diagnosable attention deficit

ADHD rarely appears by itself. Many children with ADHD also have learning problems and mental health problems. Learning problems include problems with reading fluency and comprehension, as well as problems with writing. To a lesser degree some children also have problems with math. Mental health problems include anxiety and mood disorders. As well, some children have oppositional behaviour problems.
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Adolescence is a time for establishing one’s independence from the family. It is a time to begin to explore the role of becoming an adult, usually without all the responsibilities of adulthood. Slowly, society allows adolescents some responsibilities. The right not to have a curfew and the right to drive a car are responsibilities initiated by age 16. And slowly, the list increases. The assumption is that with each year, teenagers become more responsible- better at regulating their behaviours and the emotions that drive the behaviours. Most teenagers handle the acquisition of adult responsibilities with very little difficulty.

Teachers may wish to monitor the following domains of development and expect the following behaviours to be age appropriate:
Social Domain:
  • Friendships – As adolescence mature, they still retain a high regard for their peer groups, but they also begin to explore romantic relationships with single partners.
  • Conflict resolution – Adolescents are still experiencing heightened arousal and strong emotions during this time of development. As a result, it may be a challenge to resolve conflicts in such a heightened state, but they also should be developing good insight into human nature. As a result, conflict resolution should be possible, once emotions have subsided.
  • Cooperation – Adolescence is often described as a time of idealism and, with good direction, adolescents should have all the skills necessary to work cooperatively with adults.

Emotional Domain:
  • Regulating emotions – This should be a time for developing abilities to regulate feelings and put the breaks on behaviours driven by intense feelings. Remember, this is a work in process.
  • Recognizing emotions - This a time for students to learn more about the changes that are taking place within themselves and to develop an understanding of the changes taking place within their emotions.

Physical Domain:
  • This is a time of transition to full adulthood. Physical coordination and strength should be almost fully developed

Communication & Language Domain:
  • Earlier awkwardness associated with conversations with the opposite sex should be subsiding. There should also be a comfort level associated with talking to adults.

Cognitive Domain:
  • Self-regulation – The disjoint between emotional development and cognitive control will still be there, but should show signs of decreasing.
  • Problem solving – The ability to recognize a variety of problem solving skills, including understanding alternative points-of-view should be in place.


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Behaviours associated with hyperactivity and impulsivity, that do not seem to be age appropriate, that are identified by teachers as disruptive, that occur in a variety of settings, that affect learning in the classroom, that persist for at least 6 months and that cannot be attributed to either cultural or other external events should be of concern to both parents and teachers.

Impulsive behaviours will include:
  • Student who can’t wait their turn (appears to very impatient)
  • Student who blurt out comments
  • Student who interrupt and intrude into conversations

Hyperactive behaviours will include:
  • Student who constantly fidgets and squirms
  • Student who is full of inner restlessness
  • Student who constantly needs to be somewhere else (often feels bored)
  • Student who is constantly on the go
  • Student who can’t play quietly or spend time alone
  • Student who talks excessively

If a student exhibits at least 6 of the above problems behaviours, teachers and support staff should encourage parents to have their child referred to a paediatrician, psychologist, psychological associate or psychiatrist for assessment and to determine whether they have a diagnosable attention deficit

ADHD rarely appears by itself. Many children with ADHD also have learning problems and mental health problems. Learning problems include problems with reading fluency and comprehension, as well as problems with understanding language and expressing themselves orally and in writing. To a lesser degree some children also have problems with math. Mental health problems include anxiety and mood disorders. As well, some children have oppositional behaviour problems.
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Inhibitory control is a seen as a psychological process responsible for symptoms (behaviours) associated with the hyperactive/impulsive dimension of ADHD.

Poor inhibitory control is believed to be one of two underlying process deficits in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The other is poor working memory. ADHD is common neurobiological disorder. It is a chronic and lifelong disorder. It affects about 5%to 7% of the population. This translates into 1 or 2 students per class. ADHD interferes with an individual’s capacity to self-regulate their activity level (hyperactivity & restlessness), to inhibit behaviour (impulsivity) and to attend to the task at hand in an age appropriate way (attention).



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Many children and youth with problems regulating impulsive behaviours and hyperactivity may in fact have a neuro-developmental disorder like ADHD or be born with congenital health problem like Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FASD). Back to top

Children who come from families where family life is less structured or rule based may initially enter school with behaviour that appears hyperactive and impulsive. Back to top

Poor impulse control and hyperactivity are also associated with other disabilities than ADHD. It is often associated with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FASD). Children with autism will also have impulsive behaviours, though the link with hyperactivity is not there. Any delay in development of the prefrontal cortex or any affront to the prefrontal cortex may also result in impulsive behaviour. Back to top

Some children are described as very energetic and/or quick to process information. Often, these children are incorrectly identified as having impulse control problems when they may just be under stimulated. Back to top

Different cultures have different approaches to early child rearing. Some cultures allow for more independence in young children, whereas other cultures may require more defined behaviours. Teachers should pay close attention to the cultural expectations associated with child rearing in the early years. This may have a bearing on the level of school readiness once a child enters the classroom. The type of learning intervention necessary for a child whose impulsive behaviour may be learned is different from impulsivity that is organic. Back to top

Children who have experienced emotional trauma or come from turbulent environments may respond differently to classroom situations. They may respond immediately to both internal stimulation (a thought of danger) or to external stimulation (an experience that may rekindle memories of danger). Their immediate response may run counter to classroom expectations and thus be seen as impulsive behaviours. Teachers should refer such children to counselling services immediately. Back to top

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Children in pre-school programs and kindergarten should be developing self-regulatory skills as part of their school readiness. Teachers can promote self-regulation by:
  • Promoting the extensive use of language in play activities
  • Teaching intention and planning through play
  • Encouraging social role-playing during game activities
  • Introducing structured programs with defined time-frames for activities
  • Slowly introducing appropriate social rules
  • Using any conflict or infraction of rules as a teachable moment for the whole class
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At this age, it is hard to distinguish normal children’s behaviour from children who have difficulty with impulsive behaviours and hyperactivity. Children who appear to show these behaviours in excess of their classmates and who appear less mature than their classmates should be closely monitored. They may be at higher risk for accidents in the classroom and the school yard.

These children benefit best from a structured and well organized program. Programs that involve a lot of unstructured play may not benefit students who are impulsive and hyperactive.

Teachers should be highly pro-social and positive. Teachers should explicitly model, explain and coach appropriate social skills on a daily basis. Teachers may wish to target specific skills like turn taking or complementing others. Targeted social skills practices should be class wide. They should be:
  1. Explained clearly, including why they are used
  2. They should be discussed by the class and supported with visual displays
  3. They should be demonstrated, including what not to do.
  4. Teachers should model behaviour. They may wish to use puppets and books as support
  5. Students should role-play targeted social skills, with the teacher providing immediate feedback

Children who are impulsive, will likely have poor attention skills as well. As a result, they may have trouble following instructions. Teacher use of language is critical both for communication and for modelling use. When giving instructions, teachers should make eye contact with the child. They should speak clearly and paced. Use Short sentences and visual cues if possible. Pause between sentences. Monitor for meaning. If it appears that the child is not following, repeat instructions slowly, but do not elaborate or paraphrase.

Develop diversionary tactics for children who are impulsive and hyperactive. Watch for restlessness and agitation. Try to redirect their behaviour to an alternative active task, like wiping the table or collecting toys.

Behaviour management practices for children with poor impulsive control and hyperactivity are the same as those for older children. See section on descriptions of Forward to this Subchapter for more information.

Most important, inform parents of your concerns regarding the child’s behaviour.



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Children who struggle with hyperactivity and impulsivity may be at risk for mental health or learning problems. Teachers should inform parents of their concern and suggest an assessment by a paediatrician.


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Children who are impulsive and hyperactive may be diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Teachers should know the following about treatment approaches for these children.

Treatment for ADHD includes medications, psychosocial, and multimodal interventions.

Medications:

There are two main types of medication that have been officially approved by Health Canada for the treatment of ADHD in children, adolescents and adults. These are stimulant medications and non-stimulant medications. The stimulants are methylphenidate-based medications like Ritalin and Concerta and amphetamine-based medications like Dexedrine and Adderall. The non-stimulant medications include a new class of drugs known as atomoxetine hydrochloride. Atomoxetine is sold under the trade name of Strattera.


Medications can also be differentiated based on how long they last. Stimulants can be classified as short lasting (3-4 hours) and longer lasting (6-14 hours). Effects of non-stimulant medications can last up to 24 hours.


Medications are found to improve core symptoms of impulsivity, hyperactivity and inattention. In the classroom, children may be less fidgety, less emotional and better able to concentrate. At home there may less conflict, more quiet play and better transition at bedtime.

Like all medications, stimulants and non-stimulants come with side effects. The following side effects occur in about 5% of children with ADHD. They include stomach discomfort, insomnia, nervousness, mild increase in pulse and blood pressure, irritability and mild sadness. Often, these symptoms clear up within 30 minutes and will disappear completely in 24 hours if the medication is stopped. Controversies, such as growth deficits and substance abuse are unfounded.

Two key points to keep in mind are that these medications do not cure ADHD symptoms. They simply give relief to the core symptoms associated with ADHD. The second point is that it is a challenge to get compliance for using these medications from children and youth. Children are more compliant than teenagers. Teenagers argue that they feel like they are not themselves when on the medications. Since peer relationships are important to teenagers, they resist the use of these medications. Ironically, young adults who are in post-secondary settings are much more compliant. They see the medications as a means towards success in school.

Psychosocial & Behavioural Interventions:

Parent Training – These programs help parents to understand ADHD behaviours as well as learning methods for coping and accommodating children’s behavioural and learning difficulties. Parent training programs usually cover anywhere from 6 to 12 sessions. Evidence shows that they do reduce stress at home, improve parental-esteem and improve child compliance.

Social Skills Training – A high percentage of children and teenagers with ADHD have poor social skills. These can range from children with aggressive behaviours to children who have difficulty reading social cues and modulating their social interactions. Generally, these programs work best when they are presented in learning contexts (classrooms) and they use a universal approach (include all classroom students).

Cognitive-Behaviour Therapies – These programs use a behaviour management strategies, problem solving and self-monitoring strategies. The goal of these programs is to improve self-control.

Behavioural Therapies and Management – the goal of these programs is to reduce unwanted programs and to encourage wanted behaviours. These programs can be divided into two broad categories; programs & strategies that are antecedent focused and programs & strategies that are consequence focused.
  1. Antecedent focused behaviour management strategies try to identify the events that immediately preceded the problematic behaviours. Once the trigger for the behaviour is identified, the goal should be to eliminate the trigger with an intervention that will promote positive outcomes. The intervention can be either environmental (i.e., changing a student’s seating) or accommodations (i.e. altering the structure and length of class assignments).
  2. Consequent focused behaviour management strategies are used to reinforce appropriate behaviour or punish inappropriate behaviour. Programs that provide immediate and consistent rewards for appropriate behaviour are found to be effective in reducing the severity of symptoms associated with ADHD. Common consequence behaviour programs include the use of token economy management systems and behaviour contracts. Often, self-monitoring strategies, such as checklists to monitor desired behaviour are built into these programs. Students are still rewarded when they achieve a certain level of performance, but at the same time they are taught to think about their behaviour.

Multimodal Interventions
 


The combination of medication, parent training and school based behavioural and education interventions has been shown to have the best outcomes for children with ADHD when the school based interventions are consistent and continued for at least 2 or 3 years.





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During middle childhood, students should be developing appropriate self-regulatory skills in the classroom as part of their normal development. See Actions Observed for Middle Childhood for benchmarks of development. Teachers can promote these domains of development by modeling appropriate social behaviours, by encouraging reflective thinking and by promoting a positive learning environment. Back to top

Children who act without thinking may show the following behaviours in class:
  • They may begin a classroom task or test before the teacher finishes giving instructions
  • They may impulsively break classroom rules
  • They may speak out of turn
  • They may talk back to the teacher (need to have the final say)
  • They may take shortcuts when doing their work

Teachers can use a variety of strategies to manage impulsive behaviours. These can include:
Preferential seating for the impulsive student. This allows the teacher to redirect student who may be acting impulsively. Nonverbal cues for directing behaviour work best and avoid confrontation. They should be agreed to at the beginning of the school year.
Transition strategies. Often impulsive behaviour occurs during transitions either in activities or changing physical location (moving between classes, going out for recess). Before the transition the teacher should announce the rules for transition. They may want to ask the class to recite the rules. They should also place themselves near to the impulsive child.
Classroom rules should be taught explicitly. They should be visually prominent in the classroom.
Appropriate behaviour should be taught in classroom. It should be part of the classroom culture.
Daily expectations and routines should be announced at the beginning of class.
Teachers may also wish to selectively ignore certain impulsive behaviours.

Back to top

Children who struggle with impulsivity and hyperactivity, whether the cause is ADHD or other factors are at a disadvantage in learning. It is not primarily the outward behaviour that puts them at risk, but rather the lost opportunity to learn. As well, in the majority of cases this behaviour is only the tip of the iceberg. So, teachers should not assume that once the hyperactivity and impulsivity is managed, that learning will take place. They should closely monitor student academic performance for improvement.

That said, there are a variety of interventions that can help reduce the frequency of impulsivity and hyperactivity. These include behaviour management, supporting academic success, strategy training and medication. The best outcomes occur through a multimodal approach.


Behaviour Management:

In its most general sense, there are two components involved in behaviour management. First, there is the teaching of rules. These rules define behaviour that is allowed and behaviour that is not allowed. Second, there is the consequence for the student’s behaviour. The consequence can be a reward for practicing allowed behaviours that and punishment or withdrawal of privileges for practicing a behaviour that is not allowed.

Behaviour management has some challenges when being applied to children with ADHD. Children with ADHD have diminished reactions to delayed consequences, whether those consequences are rewards or punishments. Also, children with ADHD have weak sensitivity to both rules and consequences, which means they have a hard time remembering or being motivated to engage in both components of behaviour management programs. Therefore, teachers need to express rules frequently and to use heightened reinforcements. There is also evidence that children with ADHD habituate quickly to reward.

With the aforementioned challenges in mind, Dr. Russell Barkley has suggested eight principles to think about when trying to manage impulsivity and hyperactivity:
  1. Use more immediate feedback and consequences; children with ADHD respond better to immediate feedback for behaviour. This should include immediate feedback for both obeying rules and for breaking rules. If possible, teachers should use more positive than negative consequences.
  2. Use more frequent feedback and consequences; children with ADHD benefit from more reminders than most students. Feedback does not have to be just consequential to inappropriate behaviour. It can preface transitions or tasks. It also does not always have to be verbal. Strategies using token economies and self-monitoring can be used to promote frequent feedback.
  3. Children with ADHD have reduced sensitivity to consequences, whether they are rewards or punishments. Therefore, teachers need to increase the level of consequences. Generally, this works best for rewards, since increased negative consequences can undermine the motivation to participate in schooling. Dr. Barkley suggests that in addition to praise, teachers may wish to develop a reward system for children with ADHD (see token economy)
  4. Use positive over negative; all children respond better rewards than they do to punishment. For teachers working with children with ADHD, this involves first identifying the behaviour they wish to change. Next, the teacher should observe the student, waiting to see when the child uses the desired behaviour in place of the unwanted behaviour and rewarding that behaviour immediately. Only after the new behaviour has consistently been rewarded for a week, should the teacher evaluate whether to also introduce punishment for undesired behaviour. If they choose to introduce punishment to manage misbehaviour, it should be mild, for example……..
  5. Be consistent; it is important for teachers to be consistent with expectations and enforcement of rules for all students, across time, place and situations.
  6. Anticipate problems; it is important for teachers to be proactive, rather than reactive. This involves being aware of triggers that may set off unwanted behaviour. By considering ahead, teachers can plan ahead and reduce unwanted behaviours.
  7. Keep a perspective; it is important to remember that children with ADHD have a hard time regulating behaviour and remembering rules. Unwanted behaviour is often not intentional, so teachers should not personalize or become enraged when the behaviour is recurrent. Losing your cool does not help the situation. Teachers may want to develop an internal strategy to help them step back from the immediate situation, stay calm and then engage with the understanding that you are working with a child with a disability.
  8. Practice forgiveness; Dr. Barkley identifies three components to this process. First, forgive the child for their transgressions. They struggle with a disability that may be hard for you to really understand. Second, forgive those around the child, who misunderstand the child’s inappropriate behaviour. Finally, forgive yourself, for your own missteps in managing the child’s behaviour. ADHD children at times have the ability to challenge the patience of the best of us. Recognize that you may at times fall short of the expectations you have set for yourself as a teacher, and set out to improve your own ability to regulate your emotions and actions.

Academic success is probably one of the best methods for managing behaviour. Students who do well make more of an effort to inhibit unwanted behaviours. Promoting academic success for students with ADHD involves making adjustments to the delivery of classroom instruction. When setting classroom tasks, teachers should neither overestimate nor underestimate the student’s ability.
  • Teachers may want to increase the level of novelty and interest in order to increase stimulation
  • Teachers may want to vary methods of presentation of information in class. Try to encourage learning activities that require active engagement in the learning process (e.g. discussion, group work, peer learning), rather than passive engagement (e.g. lectures, independent seat work, silent reading, watching videos)
  • Use explicit instruction for teaching new information
  • Schedule academic subjects in the morning
  • Accommodate assignments in order to reduce demand on sustained attention. Also, give feedback on work done, immediately after completion.

Researchers are looking at teaching children who have difficulty regulating behaviour and emotions, strategies to help them think before they act. One such program is SNAP (Stop Now And Plan). This program is offered through children’s mental health agencies. As well, there is early research looking at strategies used in mindfulness mediation to help teach self-regulation skills to older children and youth. Though these areas are showing some success, teachers interested in exploring these areas need to understand that they require a high level of training in order to be implemented.

For children who have a diagnosis of ADHD, the best approach is a multimodal approach. This includes the teacher based classroom strategies, a psychoeducational program for the child, which will teach them about their disorder and how to self-advocate and, finally, medication. However, it is important for teachers to remember that medication will not address the problems associated with learning. Only, a good academic assessment, appropriate instructional practices and monitoring of the student’s learning will promote school success.


Back to top



During middle childhood, students should be developing appropriate self-regulatory skills in the classroom as part of their normal development. See Actions Observed for Middle Childhood for benchmarks of development. Teachers can promote these domains of development by modeling appropriate social behaviours, by encouraging reflective thinking and by promoting a positive learning environment.



Back to top

During early adolescence, students should be developing appropriate self-regulatory skills in the classroom as part of their normal development. See Actions Observed for early adolescence for benchmarks of development. Teachers can promote these domains of development by modeling appropriate social behaviours, by encouraging reflective thinking and by promoting a positive learning environment. Back to top

Children who act without thinking may show the following behaviours in class:
  • They may begin a classroom task or test before the teacher finishes giving instructions
  • They may impulsively break classroom rules
  • They may speak out of turn
  • They may talk back to the teacher (need to have the final say)
  • They may take shortcuts when doing their work

Teachers can use a variety of strategies to manage impulsive behaviours. These can include:
Preferential seating for the impulsive student. This allows the teacher to redirect student who may be acting impulsively. Nonverbal cues for directing behaviour work best and avoid confrontation. They should be agreed to at the beginning of the school year.
Transition strategies. Often impulsive behaviour occurs during transitions either in activities or changing physical location (moving between classes, going out for recess). Before the transition the teacher should announce the rules for transition. They may want to ask the class to recite the rules. They should also place themselves near to the impulsive child.
Classroom rules should be taught explicitly. They should be visually prominent in the classroom.
Appropriate behaviour should be taught in classroom. It should be part of the classroom culture.
Daily expectations and routines should be announced at the beginning of class.
Teachers may also wish to selectively ignore certain impulsive behaviours.

Back to top

Children who struggle with impulsivity and hyperactivity, whether the cause is ADHD or other factors are at a disadvantage in learning. It is not primarily the outward behaviour that puts them at risk, but rather the lost opportunity to learn. As well, in the majority of cases this behaviour is only the tip of the iceberg. So, teachers should not assume that once the hyperactivity and impulsivity is managed, that learning will take place. They should closely monitor student academic performance for improvement.

That said, there are a variety of interventions that can help reduce the frequency of impulsivity and hyperactivity. These include behaviour management, supporting academic success, strategy training and medication. The best outcomes occur through a multimodal approach.


Behaviour Management:

In its most general sense, there are two components involved in behaviour management. First, there is the teaching of rules. These rules define behaviour that is allowed and behaviour that is not allowed. Second, there is the consequence for the student’s behaviour. The consequence can be a reward for practicing allowed behaviours that and punishment or withdrawal of privileges for practicing a behaviour that is not allowed.

Behaviour management has some challenges when being applied to children with ADHD. Children with ADHD have diminished reactions to delayed consequences, whether those consequences are rewards or punishments. Also, children with ADHD have weak sensitivity to both rules and consequences, which means they have a hard time remembering or being motivated to engage in both components of behaviour management programs. Therefore, teachers need to express rules frequently and to use heightened reinforcements. There is also evidence that children with ADHD habituate quickly to reward.

With the aforementioned challenges in mind, Dr. Russell Barkley has suggested eight principles to think about when trying to manage impulsivity and hyperactivity:
  1. Use more immediate feedback and consequences; children with ADHD respond better to immediate feedback for behaviour. This should include immediate feedback for both obeying rules and for breaking rules. If possible, teachers should use more positive than negative consequences.
  2. Use more frequent feedback and consequences; children with ADHD benefit from more reminders than most students. Feedback does not have to be just consequential to inappropriate behaviour. It can preface transitions or tasks. It also does not always have to be verbal. Strategies using token economies and self-monitoring can be used to promote frequent feedback.
  3. Children with ADHD have reduced sensitivity to consequences, whether they are rewards or punishments. Therefore, teachers need to increase the level of consequences. Generally, this works best for rewards, since increased negative consequences can undermine the motivation to participate in schooling. Dr. Barkley suggests that in addition to praise, teachers may wish to develop a reward system for children with ADHD (see token economy)
  4. Use positive over negative; all children respond better rewards than they do to punishment. For teachers working with children with ADHD, this involves first identifying the behaviour they wish to change. Next, the teacher should observe the student, waiting to see when the child uses the desired behaviour in place of the unwanted behaviour and rewarding that behaviour immediately. Only after the new behaviour has consistently been rewarded for a week, should the teacher evaluate whether to also introduce punishment for undesired behaviour. If they choose to introduce punishment to manage misbehaviour, it should be mild, for example……..
  5. Be consistent; it is important for teachers to be consistent with expectations and enforcement of rules for all students, across time, place and situations.
  6. Anticipate problems; it is important for teachers to be proactive, rather than reactive. This involves being aware of triggers that may set off unwanted behaviour. By considering ahead, teachers can plan ahead and reduce unwanted behaviours.
  7. Keep a perspective; it is important to remember that children with ADHD have a hard time regulating behaviour and remembering rules. Unwanted behaviour is often not intentional, so teachers should not personalize or become enraged when the behaviour is recurrent. Losing your cool does not help the situation. Teachers may want to develop an internal strategy to help them step back from the immediate situation, stay calm and then engage with the understanding that you are working with a child with a disability.
  8. Practice forgiveness; Dr. Barkley identifies three components to this process. First, forgive the child for their transgressions. They struggle with a disability that may be hard for you to really understand. Second, forgive those around the child, who misunderstand the child’s inappropriate behaviour. Finally, forgive yourself, for your own missteps in managing the child’s behaviour. ADHD children at times have the ability to challenge the patience of the best of us. Recognize that you may at times fall short of the expectations you have set for yourself as a teacher, and set out to improve your own ability to regulate your emotions and actions.

Academic success is probably one of the best methods for managing behaviour. Students who do well make more of an effort to inhibit unwanted behaviours. Promoting academic success for students with ADHD involves making adjustments to the delivery of classroom instruction. When setting classroom tasks, teachers should neither overestimate nor underestimate the student’s ability.
  • Teachers may want to increase the level of novelty and interest in order to increase stimulation
  • Teachers may want to vary methods of presentation of information in class. Try to encourage learning activities that require active engagement in the learning process (e.g. discussion, group work, peer learning), rather than passive engagement (e.g. lectures, independent seat work, silent reading, watching videos)
  • Use explicit instruction for teaching new information
  • Schedule academic subjects in the morning
  • Accommodate assignments in order to reduce demand on sustained attention. Also, give feedback on work done, immediately after completion.

Researchers are looking at teaching children who have difficulty regulating behaviour and emotions, strategies to help them think before they act. One such program is SNAP (Stop Now And Plan). This program is offered through children’s mental health agencies. As well, there is early research looking at strategies used in mindfulness mediation to help teach self-regulation skills to older children and youth. Though these areas are showing some success, teachers interested in exploring these areas need to understand that they require a high level of training in order to be implemented.

For children who have a diagnosis of ADHD, the best approach is a multimodal approach. This includes the teacher based classroom strategies, a psychoeducational program for the child, which will teach them about their disorder and how to self-advocate and, finally, medication. However, it is important for teachers to remember that medication will not address the problems associated with learning. Only, a good academic assessment, appropriate instructional practices and monitoring of the student’s learning will promote school success.


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During adolescence, students are expected to be developing skills necessary for self-control and independence. The later years of high school are intended to promote self-control and independence in preparation for either post-secondary education or the workplace. Teachers should keep these implicit goals in mind as they teach towards the more explicit goals stated in their curriculum subject areas. Back to top

Students who appear to be impulsive and who may be impatient and bored (these behaviours appear to replace hyperactivity in adolescence and early adulthood) benefit from the interventions suggested in C-8. Teachers should be aware of the age differential, but should implement the suggestions as they see appropriate. Back to top

Students who are academically at risk because of impulsivity, and who appear often to be impatient and bored (these behaviours appear to replace hyperactivity in adolescence and adulthood), should be encouraged to seek a psycho-educational assessment. This can be done by a qualified psychologist or psychological associate, or {psychiatrists don’t do credible psychoeducational assessments]. Teachers should be prepared to integrate recommended teaching and classroom strategies for students with a psycho-educational assessment. Most recommendations at this level involve accommodations. Subject teachers should consult with staff from the school support team around strategies for the implementation of accommodations. Teachers may also wish to refer to suggestions in section C-8, since many of these will be applicable to their students. Back to top
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