How Mindful Practices Help Neurodiverse Children With Impulse Control


I thought I made the best casserole the other night, but found myself devastated when my son literally spit his bite out. Yesterday, my friend told me she was mortified when her daughter told her grandmother that she looked fat in her new dress.

Have you ever felt triggered by your child's actions that you think are impulsive and thoughtless, even when you know they didn't mean to be insensitive? 

Have these situations ever sent you into reactive parent mode?  As we've  talked about before, we know that an escalated adult cannot de-escalate a child, so how can we turn this into a win-win for all?

The answer is...MINDFULNESS.

Children require training wheels  from their #1 Social-Emotional Coach - aka you - through a process of co-regulation. Simply put, this means to share your calm. The good news is, when you're doing this, you're actually teaching your child and modeling mindfulness. (If you need help on this, check out the ABC's of Co-Regulation). 

We tend to forget that this is one of the biggest parts of Social Emotional Learning. If we can't teach our children how to pause to assess what is going on internally and around them, it doesn't matter what other tools they have. They won't be able to use them. 

Neurodiverse children and others with unique learning needs may require increased tools, more time, and specific guidance.  Mindfulness, which allows us to be with and in the present moment with joy and ease, is an incredible tool to use when faced with impulsive actions. 

Impulse control is a skill, a function of our higher-level learning brain, the pre-frontal cortex. Unlike the other two parts of the brain, the prefrontal cortex is not activated at birth, but rather comes online around age three and is fully developed between the mid to late twenties. 

Staying in the present moment strengthens our ability to pause before we react so that we can assess the situation, the people around us, and most importantly, our own feelings. This ability helps us stay in our bodies and control our impulses. It’s in the space of the pause that we are empowered to notice our emotions and decide how to channel them.

This type of teaching and supporting your child does not happen in the escalated moment. It is something we practice on a regular basis and can be done during simple daily activities.

This creates new neurological pathways that link our reactive brainstem to our prefrontal cortex in moments of big, unpleasant emotions.

In collaboration with Generation Mindful, we've put together a list of 10 Simple Mindset Activities for Kids to Build Emotional Intelligence. Check it out here. 

Together we will be following my  12 month Make It Simple, Make It Stick calendar with activities that you can use in your home. This month, we’re focused on mindfulness.



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