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Impulsive Behavior: What Random Acts of ADHD Impulsivity Can You Share?

My daughter, Natalie, has ADHD and poor impulse control — with sometimes hilarious, sometimes frustrating results. Our family does our best to cope with this ADHD symptom — sharing stories is one way. How does your family survive? What are your most outrageous tales of impulsivity?

Impulsive behavior is a hallmark of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and my 10-year-old daughter, Natalie, who has the condition, has created a cache of family stories through her impulsive antics.

Here’s one we tell often. Natalie was outside, playing with squirt guns with friends. She stopped to refill her squirt gun in a bucket of water, and our cat, Smokey, happened to saunter by. She picked him up and dropped him in the bucket — for one reason and one reason only: Because he was there.

There’s often some logic — possibly twisted, but logic nonetheless — behind Natalie’s impulsive behaviors. They’re typically goal-directed, like when she raided her big brother Aaron’s room and came out with the half-empty box of Tic Tacs that was in his Christmas stocking. She wanted those Tic Tacs. Or when she snuck into his room and stole his copies of the second and third books in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. She had to have them and could not possibly take the time to ask to borrow them.

Then there’s the time she rummaged through his drawers and filched his stash of cash. He didn’t even know it was missing until a few days before Christmas when he went to get it — to buy Natalie a present — and it was gone. I kind of wondered how she’d saved up enough money to buy those Legos. Turns out she didn’t. Do you have any idea how long that would have taken her, how long she’d have had to practice patience and self-restraint?

These were all things Natalie wanted and couldn’t wait for. She needs instant gratification. Even though she’s been punished for taking things from her brother’s room in the past, she never stops to consider the consequences of another grab-it-and-run. That kind of impulsivity, although maddening, is, in ADHD terms, understandable.

But, like the time she dunked Smokey, Natalie recently practiced a random act of impulsivity that left me shaking my head. Huh? What was that about?

Recently, Natalie was in the bathroom, and I happened to be in there with her, supervising. (Yes, really, I actually do that.) She used up the last of a roll of toilet paper, so I grabbed a new one from the cupboard under the sink. Natalie stood up and flushed just as I was removing the empty roll from the holder. As I reached over to toss the empty roll in the wastebasket, Nat grabbed it and dropped it into the swirling water.

“NO!” I yelled, but it was too late. The empty toilet paper roll went down in the flush.

“Why? Why? Why?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” responded Natalie and off she ran.

To quote Tennyson, the number one rule of raising a kid with ADHD is: “Theirs not to reason why…”

The second rule is: Be sure you own a plunger.

What’s the most random act of impulsivity to hit your home lately?

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