If someone you know has adult ADHD, impulsivity may be a problem that you’ll have to deal with. Before you can deal with it, however, you’ll need to gather information both about the person with ADHD and about ADHD in general. Reading stories, memoirs, and other accounts of life with ADHD as well as medical texts can help you understand how people with adult ADHD feel and why they act like they do. Once you understand this, you will naturally have more patience when it comes to impulsive behavior, and you will be able to retain your sense of humor and compassion when you realize that the impulsivity displayed is not deliberate.
You should also be on the lookout for warning signs of impulsivity, such as increased anxiety, over-stimulation, or frustration. Once you know what these warning signs are and their triggers you can intervene.
Although you may think that dealing with impulsivity requires changing the person with adult ADHD, it can also mean changing your own thoughts and actions. Adjust your attitude towards minor issues, realizing that the person with adult ADHD doesn’t intend to harm through being impulsive and cannot necessarily stop himself easily. Make a list of the behaviors that bother you about the person with ADHD, and choose just a few of them that are more serious, dangerous, or bothersome that you would like to bring up. Ignore the rest of them as much as possible, realizing that they are lower on the priority list.
If some of the issues concern your actions or belongings, you may be able to adjust things so that they are not issues any longer. For example, using more durable glasses and dishes may prevent unnecessary breakage, as can keeping any of your precious and breakable belongings out of view. You may also want to avoid attending over-stimulating or under-stimulating events with the person who has adult ADHD, if either of those seems to lead to an increase in impulsivity. You can also suggest that the person avoid these events entirely.
If you are in a situation where you can teach the person with adult ADHD some helpful strategies, there are many tools you can give them. Typical relaxation and anger control methods can do wonders for adult ADHD impulsivity. For example;
- You can suggest that they count to ten in their heads before giving an opinion that they are not sure will be welcome
- Whispering instead of shouting when they feel frustrated or angry
- Saving emails as drafts for several hours before sending them
- Using the phrase "Hm, I need a minute or two to think about that" in response to a request for an opinion.
When a person with ADHD has used one of these strategies give positive and specific feedback, pointing out what you noticed and commending the person for dealing with the situation effectively.