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When does impulse control develop?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
The title says it all, really. When do kids really start to develop impulse control?

At what point does expecting a child to NOT run off down the street with a friend to her house, while mama stands at the top of the hill (next to the car we were about to get into) calling "stop!" become a realistic expectation?

Happily when 4 yo dd took off running full-tilt with her 4 yo friend after preschool yesterday it was in a safe-ish place, but I had rather thought we had outgrown this running away and not stopping thing.
post #2 of 8
The part of the brain that controls impulse control doesn't fully develop until the early 20's. I think four is old enough to understand the consequences of running away from your mom or not listening when your mom says stop though. I never had any issues with my dd running away from me though so I don't know for sure. When kids get together with friends they do tend to forget self control and they sometimes do things they typically would never do.
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
well, true, impulse control developmenting is a long process. Maybe I should reword my wonderings a little.

I am struggling to mantain realistic expectations with dd right now - she can do so so many things (and some of them suddenly - I had no idea you could do that yourself, sweetie!) and can converse and understand so much that it is a little hard for me to see where her actual limitations are, just at the moment. It makes it tricky for me to decide whether she is willfully not doin something she can do (like not run off with her friend - I thought she was capable of that!) or whether I am expecting her to do something that really, she can`t quite pull off on her own yet.

Does that make any sense?
Anyone else want to chime in with what their idea of realistic expectations for a four year old are? Just in general terms, or as relates to impulse control and running off?
post #4 of 8
OK, I'm sure I'm not the right person to offer an answer to this question, but the answer for us so far, is "not yet, at almost 6 years old". They seem to have new reasons almost every year for pulling stunts like that. First, they don't know the rule, then when they're a bit older, they test the rule to learn it, then they know the rule but find new independence that they're testing out (my 3.5yo just wants to do stuff that big kids do, that's often why he'd run off). Then, they eventually develop more of an "attitude" where they know they're testing YOU. Or like the PP said, with a friend they are feeling out that new relationship, doing things together they wouldn't alone. At almost 6, I have no idea why ds1 runs when I say no sometimes, but it does happen way less than it used to.

So, totally unhelpful, just know that in my opinion it's not unusual to lack that control at 4.
post #5 of 8
My almost 5 year old has pretty good impulse control unless something is really interesting, then it's gone. Impulse control differs form child to child just like other developmental issues. I still hold DDs hand when we're near a road.
post #6 of 8
Impulse control while well rested, well fed and healthy (and not around other children)? For ds, about age 3 (he was incredibly early, IMO). Dd about 4 1/2 to 5.

Impulse control around other children? Age 6 for dd.
post #7 of 8
From my reading, 4.5-5 is more common and the range is 3-6 years. Three would be the early side of the range for onset of impulse control.
post #8 of 8

I would love to know the definitive answer to this questions.  There's more to it than age.  My almost-4yo has better impulse control than my almost-7yo.  It crosses my mind about daily that maybe it's just because my youngest hasn't thought of evil impulses yet that need to be controlled or that my 7yo is going to end up in therapy...but I am hoping it's just different personalities.  I just look for continuous improvement.  More impulse control than yesterday is all I ask :)

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