Looking for strategies for students who are impulsive? Whether you are working with a student who is impulsive or just antsy, it can be difficult to find something that works. This can be especially difficult for elementary students. Some of the issues you may run into include:
- The student cannot use the strategy independently
- The strategy is not feasible in that particular classroom
- The strategy is too disruptive
- The student did not “buy in” to the strategy
- The resources I find are too wordy or difficult to understand for my student (I run into this issue a lot with my kindergartners)
Sound familiar? These are all factors I always try to keep in mind when brainstorming strategies for any student, but in particular a student who is impulsive or a little extra wiggly. Below I have compiled a list of 6 strategies and resources I have found to be the most successful. They all vary in style, and I am confident you will find at least one that will work for you!
1. Use of a Fidget
This may seem like an obvious one right? But finding the right one can be challenging! Here are some of my favorites: stress ball or bendy stick; Velcro or textured card stock attached to their table or desk; band on the bottom of the chair; wiggle seat; and pencil topper (there are some that can be manipulated and some that are safe to chew on if it is a student that already likes to chew on different items).
2. Adjust the Work Space
Adjusting a student’s work space can look very different depending on the needs of the student. One way I have done this is by placing tape on the floor around their personal work space: this particular idea can allow the student to stand or wiggle in their work space, while still maintaining boundaries and staying out of the space of others – as long as they stay inside the tape, they are staying in their work space. You can also adjust the work space by allowing the student to move to a larger table during independent work time, or using an “office” like a trifold on their desk to decrease distractions around them.
3. Place Personal Visual Reminders in Common Spaces
The idea behind this is that it serves as a reminder before the reminder. By placing visual reminders in common spaces for the student, they will see it frequently and hopefully remind themselves to stop their impulse before they carry it out. The visual reminders I use consist of a stop sign with a picture of the impulse I am trying to prevent. I almost always place them on their desk/table space and at their spot on the carpet. Some other ideas are on the floor where they line up or the area above their backpack. I have provided 2 free visuals for having a quiet mouth and raising your hand here.
4. Use a Social Story
Try using a social story! You can try this with any impulsive behavior, but for a student who can’t keep their hands to themselves, I read over the social story with them a few times, and even allow them to color it for ownership. Everyone gets a copy of the story – the classroom teacher, PE teacher, music teacher, principal, etc. When the student doesn’t keep their hands to themselves, they are to immediately read over the story (this does not eliminate consequences, the behavior system in place should still be followed, but reading the story immediately serves as a fresh reminder after the impulse was carried out). I’ve included a freebie social story here!
5. Play Games That Practice Self-Control
There are so many common games that also help children practice self-control. This is a great way to help them learn and practice without even realizing it! A few include: Simon Says, red light green light, musical chairs, and having a dance party and freezing the music. Any board game also works well as students need to practice waiting their turn, paying attention to other players, and other positive social skills.
6. Interrupting Chicken and a Companion Activity
I use the book Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein frequently with my students. I have used it for class lessons and in individual/small group settings. Mrs. Wheeler from Teachers Pay Teachers has a great FREE companion activity I have used for years. It even includes a classroom management system, which I have easily used for individual students. I have my students start out with 3 chickens, and every time they interrupt, they lose one. I tie this into my office incentive system where students earn 2 stars on their chart every time they see me. If they have 0 chickens left at the end of the session, they only get 1 star on their chart that time. If you can’t purchase the book, there are several read alouds on YouTube, and you can find the companion activity here!
I hope you found this post helpful and enjoyed a few freebies!