One of the major symptoms of ADHD is impulsiveness. This is reacting before thinking. Impulsiveness can appear in many different ways. Some examples are:
- Blurting out answers, before questions are completed or when inappropriate.
- Interrupting during conversations or speaking out of turn.
- Impulsively shopping, even when you know you can’t afford items.
- Not stopping to check details.
- Agreeing to complete something before thinking of whether it is feasible in your life.
- Making rash or quick decisions.
- Not stopping to consider alternatives.
For children, additional ways impulsiveness can show up:
- Aggressiveness, hitting other children without thinking of the consequences
- Grabbing toys from other children
- Acting out, especially when frustrated
- Yelling out answers in class
Impulsiveness, however, is not always a negative trait. Being a leader requires people to make quick decisions and to think on their feet. Other situations, such as emergencies, require quick thinking and action rather than thought. Impulsiveness also can add variety and spice to your life, letting you be spontaneous or to jump into new situations.
Creating a balance can help you to enjoy the adventure that impulsiveness can bring to your life without becoming frustrated and embarrassed. Think about the times that your impulsiveness got you into trouble. Keep a log for a few weeks if it will help you to remember. After you begin to pay attention, look at where and when you are most impulsive and you would like to correct. For example, do you impulsively shop when you are feeling frustrated or upset? Do you interrupt others on a consistent basis, creating problems in relationships? Do you find yourself always trying to “fix” your life because you have impulsively made poor decisions?
Once you have kept track, you should be able to see an area that you would most like to work on. Keep your efforts to one area in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Below are some tips to help you get started:
- For impulsive shoppers, keep a notebook with you divided into “wants” and “needs.” For items that are in the “want” column, put off purchasing for a certain amount of time, such as one week. Chances are you might not even remember why you wanted the item in the first place later and the desire to have it may be gone.
- If you impulsively agree to help out at various school or other functions, try to always ask for 24 hours before you answer. You will eliminate those that you just agree to and free your time to volunteer at the functions you really want to help.
- Keep a notebook with you to help make decisions. Before committing to a rash decision, write down two “pros” and two “cons.” This can help you to slow down and look at the decision from different viewpoints.
- For children, behavior modification programs often help them learn to curb their impulsiveness.
- Although medication is not appropriate for everyone, it has been helpful for many in cutting down impulsive behaviors.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.