In these more clinical times where most child behavior is ascribed to a “diagnosis” of one sort or another, we don’t often think about rushing as a style.

I know…I know…in modern parlance the word “impulsive” is much more acceptable, as opposed to “rushing through things.”

You may want to ask yourself, though,  “Does my child rush as a style?”  Is this his/her way (manner) of interacting?

If the answer to your question is, “Yes,” then there are implications to understand about this rushing.

If you bring the issue up with any number of professionals or medical specialists, there is almost a kneejerk view that “impulsive = ADHD.”  The child is then “diagnosed,” which leads to putting the child on medication.

As is true with the way we approach most child issues, though, something nags at me that this rushing is more of a style, that is, a way of interacting and less of a legitimate disorder or disability.

To illustrate the effects of rushing as a style, let’s look at 11 year old Logan, a fifth grader I evaluated recently.

Within the assessment there were certain questions or tasks that didn’t require much consideration or reflection.  These were usually factually-based questions that did not need the internal voice to say something like, “Hmmm, let me think about it.”

For example, when I said to Logan, “What month follows June,” or “How many states are in the United States,” Logan answered very rapidly and immediately in perhaps a quarter of a second.

However, for the questions or tasks that required a certain amount of reflection or consideration, Logan continued to answer in less than a split second.

This rushing style did not serve him well, as he was often wrong, even though he had no idea that he was.

Even with the tasks that were “hands on,” such as putting blocks together to make different patterns or to copy a series of shapes and designs, Logan continued functioning extremely rapidly, much to his detriment.

There was no consideration as to whether the task at hand was easy or more difficult.  It was all rush, rush, rush.

This rushing style had a particular impact when it came to the reading comprehension portion of the evaluation.  Logan could answer straightforward factual questions, such as, “How many ducks were on the pond.”

When it came to a question where the answer was not directly stated (“Why did the ducks leave the pond?”), Logan blurted out answers in less than a second that had nothing to do with what he had just read.

By the end of the assessment, I was literally out of breath having experienced this style of Logan’s.

There are no easy answers to this “rushing style,” as it usually comes across as parental nagging, (“Take your time…slow down…stop rushing.”)

Perhaps play a “game” (anything with the word “game” associated with it makes it more fun) to sensitize the child to reduce the rushing.

This could be the, “Let Me Think About It Game.”

In this game put out two cups. One represents questions or problems that can be answered immediately (e.g., factual type of questions) and the other requires more consideration.

Have marbles or coins close by.  Let them assess which cup the marble should go as they do their work.

For example, if the question involves considering or reflecting, a marble goes in the “thinking jar.”  If the child counts to three or so before answering, they get another marble in the jar. Keep track of the marbles and when they reach 100 they get small reward.

Takeaway Point       

Start looking at rushing as a style.  Watch the nagging, but find ways (games) to help the child to slow it down a little.

Copyright, 2020
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(***  Please note: Dr. Richard Selznick is a psychologist, clinician and author of four books.  His blog posts represent his opinions and perspectives based on his years of interacting with struggling children, parents and schools.)

The  advice in the blogs and in practice is governed by one overriding principle – “If this were my child, what would I do?”   The goal of the blogs and the website is to provide parents and professionals with straight-forward, down-to-earth, no-nonsense advice to help cut through all of the confusion that exists in the field.)