Why impulse control requires better attention skills.
Does your child call out in class, cry more easily than other children, have tantrums, and other outbursts? These are all signs of underdeveloped impulse control. Frequently these behaviors are addressed from a discipline or behavioral management perspective. What if it is actually executive function and self-regulation delays that are the culprit?
Executive function skills allow us to work with information, focus our thinking, filter through distractions, and switch gears easily. Combining these skills allows us to have impulse control. We are able to remember what is important, self-monitor our emotions, and make decisions based on our goals.
Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child puts it this way: “Just as an air traffic control system at a busy airport safely manages the arrivals and departures of many aircraft on multiple runways, the brain needs this skill set to filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals, and control impulses.”
Children aren’t born with these skills
While children are not born with these skills, they are born with the potential to develop them. For some children, it comes naturally. Others need more support to develop these skills.
It is like learning to do a cartwheel. Some children do it very naturally. Others require a lot of guidance and practice to get it right. And some feel like it is nearly impossible. However, nearly every child is capable of doing it with the right support, guidance, and practice.
Developing executive function skills can be delayed for a multitude of reasons. For some kids, it is genetic. For others, it is attributed to challenging circumstances like divorce, homelessness, or other stressors. The good news is training attention skills can help!
Attention skills build the foundation for developing executive function skills. Strengthening attention skills improves working memory and self-control along with many other benefits. The Attention Arcade is a fun way for children to train these skills.
When children successfully develop attention and executive function skills, both the individual and society experience lifelong benefits.
Executive function skills help children remember and follow multi-step instructions, avoid distractions, control rash responses, adjust to rule changes, persist at problem-solving, and manage long-term assignments. For society, the outcome is a better-educated population capable of meeting the challenges of the 21st century.
Executive functions help children develop skills of teamwork, leadership, decision-making, working toward goals, critical thinking, adaptability, and being aware of our own emotions as well as those of others. For society, the outcome is more stable communities, reductions in crime, and greater social cohesion.
Improving Attention Skills
While the connection between attention skills, executive functioning, and life outcomes has been understood for years, the ability to train attention skills have been limited. BrainLeap’s Attention Arcade provides a new way to train those skills. By leveraging the connection between the eye movement system and the attention system, we train foundational attention skills that impact executive functioning.