Adolescent Impulsive Behavior

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Tess Thompson

Children cannot be expected to make appropriate choices or rational decisions on their own. In the absence of a healthy family environment they are liable to be impulsive and not learn acceptable social skills.

The primary institute for socialization is the family. It is family life that teaches children moral values and ethics as we know them. During the process they learn how to behave in society. Family structure has undergone a radical metamorphosis over the years. More children are living in households headed by a relative other than a parent and a significant majority among them with no parent at all. Other children are raised by single mothers or fathers that cannot dedicate sufficient time to their education. Financial pressures and broken families have led to a situation where we see very young and even school age children being relegated to day care. Even if the child is being sent to a child care, sometimes little effort is made by the parents to spend quality time with the children due to the pressures of work. With child care prices rising, many children come back to an empty home.

A child's mind is not fully trained and many kids are restless, unable to focus and tend to indulge in impulsive behaviors. Another factor that has been observed is that most gifted or creative children often daydream and are prone to be disorganized and oversensitive.

The methods of discipline adopted by parents is another factor that has a great impact on the child's behavioral patterns. Children are prone to misbehave due to any one or more of the following reasons:

  • To gain attention.
  • To achieve power.
  • To try to take revenge.
  • To hide inadequacies.

Intolerant parents who resort to authoritarian discipline, harsh punishment and negative statements fail to identify the basic reason why the child is misbehaving in the first place. They do not realize that the goal should be to help the children build confidence by enabling them to set goals that are within their capabilities.

Besides these factors, the impact of electronic media should not be underestimated. An average American household has more than a fair share of electronic devices and in many cases there is one for everyone in the family. The content of television programs and movies that overexpose children to violence, sexual promiscuity and vulgar language and actions hardly needs any comment. An average American child spends more than 25 hours per week watching television and studies reveal that almost a third admitted to having seen adult sites on the web. Add to that the increased fascination with video games and it becomes easy to understand the effect that this has on the attention span and behavior of children.

In recent years there has been a greater tendency to categorize impulsive behavior as developmental disorders. Such hasty conclusions have resulted in reduced efforts towards identifying the environmental causes behind the child's behavior. Diseases like Attention Deficient Disorder are fast assuming the status of a fad rather than a diagnosis based on pure scientific evidence.

The crisis of the matter is that before laying the blame on one disorder or another, impulsive and inappropriate behaviors observed in adolescents should first be evaluated with the environmental and societal influences in mind.


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