Habits of the Mind: How to Help Students Manage Impulsivity

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Sept. 2, 2016, 4:40 p.m.

As an elementary teacher, Kelly selected one habit each week and used children's literature to help students understand what the habit is and how to develop the habit of mind. She started the day by setting the academic behavior goal for the week and discussing how this goal helps us think and act productively.

Being impulsive is a difficult characteristic to manage. Adults and kids alike are all impulsive at some point in time. Educators can give students strategies for managing the urge to be impulsive by encouraging students to take your time, think before you act, remain calm, and be thoughtful and deliberative.

One of the best ways to teach managing impulsivity is through interactive read alouds. Here are three children's titles that can help you illustrate and discuss how to manage being impulsive.


Mike Mulligan & His Steam Shovel

 Mike and Mary Anne have a task that they are determined to accomplish in spite of the entire town doubting them. They are quick to react, but find themselves in a pickle when the job is done. Habits: Managing Impulsivity, thinking flexibly, Thinking Interdependently, and Persisting.



Max's Chocolate Chicken

Max can't think of anything else but eating the chocolate chicken in the bird bath. He soon lets his impulsivity get the best of him and he eats the chocolate chicken without sharing it with his sister. Habits: Managing Impulsivity and Listening With Understanding and Empathy.


The Tortoise & the Hare 

This fable is a great way to illustrate how taking your time and not being impulsive can help you win the race, even when you think the task is impossible. Habits: Managing Impulsivity and Persisting.

Kelly Harmon and Randi Anderson

About The Authors

Kelly Harmon & Associates began in 2001 with a mission of instructional coaching and providing rich literacy resources for educators and parents. Our work incorporates research-based best practices for teaching and learning.

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