Press Pause on Impulsivity

Impulse control is one of the last abilities our brains develop, so children and teenagers really struggle with this. Sometimes this gets labeled as disobedience, but kids are literally not capable of controlling their impulses the way that adults are.

This activity helps kids work on improving impulse control by visualizing a remote control and trying to “pause” and think before making choices. Adults can help them by cuing the child to press pause as the impulsive behavior is starting.

Photo by Ian Panelo on
Remote control worksheet

Image text:

Imagine that you're watching yourself on a screen right now. You are holding a remote control in your hand, and you see yourself about to make a choice. Look at the remote, and press "pause." This causes you to freeze on the screen!
Now that you're paused, you can fast forward in your mind and see what might happen next. What are you about to do? What might happen if you make that choice? Are you happy with that choice and its consequences? If not, rewind and think about what different choice could have an effect that you are happy with.
Maybe you didn't hit "pause" until after you had made a choice. That's okay! You can still rewind and see what was happening before, and you can think about what you could do next time. You can also rewind further and see what might have lead up to that choice to help you notice what things might make you want to behave a certain way so that you can change how you react or avoid those things in the future.
Adults might help you remember to press pause. This is because they want to help you notice when you might need to pause, and they want to help you make good choices. But you don't have to wait for an adult to remind you! You can press pause any time you want to remember to think before doing something.

Published by Dr Marschall

Dr. Amy Marschall received her Psy.D. from the University of Hartford in September 2015. Her clinical interests are varied and include child and adolescent therapy, TF-CBT, rural psychology, telemental health, sexual and domestic violence, psychological assessment, and mental illness prevention. Dr. Marschall presently works in the Child and Adolescent Therapy Clinic at Sioux Falls Psychological Services in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where she provides individual and family therapy and psychological assessment to children, adolescents, and college students. She also facilitates an art therapy group for adolescents and college students with anxiety and depression. Dr. Amy Marschall is certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Telemental Health.

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