Skill of the Week: Response Inhibition

This week,  we are introducing the Executive Functioning skill of Response Inhibition.  This is the ability to “think before you speak or act” and is the cornerstone of all successive EF skills. Being able to control our impulses is vital for all smooth, successful social interactions, from childhood through adulthood. When a student speaks out in class, he or she is not exhibiting response inhibition, and there may be negative consequences. When an adult speaks his mind without consideration for the feelings of others, he may insult or alienate his co-workers. We often label people who often exhibit such behaviors as "impulsive."


Helpful phrases that your child will learn in this unit are


  • Right time, right place, right audience--consider these 3 conditions before you state the thought.

  • Keep the thought in your head--it is not always best to share your opinion

  • Sit with the question--wait until your teacher is not busy to ask your question.


Strategies that we will be teaching your child are


  • Self-monitor--be aware of how often you speak out in class

  • Count to 10 before you speak-- ask yourself if this is the right time, right place, right audience. If not forget the thought.

  • If I say this then this might happen.

  • Write it down-- then you can share your thought later at an appropriate time.

  • Be aware of physical factors that may affect your behaviors-- when you are tired, sick, stressed, or excited it is harder to control yourself.


In the Academic Support classes, the teacher models these strategies for the class during the lesson and will repeatedly practice them, in real-time, over the course of the school year. The teacher will "talk out" the strategy as he or she is doing it, and explain why it is needed.

For example, if a water bottle bursts open and sprays water all over her desk, the teacher may count to 10 aloud, take a deep breath, then say "I am so mad that my papers are wet. I was about to scream, but instead, I counted to 10 and asked myself if this is the right place to scream. No, it is not." She modeled how to use the strategy in an everyday, real-life situation. It is important that teens and tweens see the important adults in their life, teachers, coaches, parents, even older siblings, also use such strategies for self-control.
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