Modification of impulsivity in children : an integrated model of self-instructional training and relaxation training

The reflective-impulsive continuum has been identified as a variable which affects the overall speed of cognitive functioning in young school-aged children. Impulsivity in children is a focus of some concern. It has been associated with poor academic performance and problems in social and emotional adjustment. There have been many attempts at developing effective methods of modifying impulsivity. One effective method was developed by Meichenbaum and Goodman. Working within a framework of cognitive-behavior modification, they devised a model of self-instructional training. This method uses self-verbalization to reduce impulsivity. While impulsivity is viewed as a problem in cognition, a somatic component has also been identified. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that the effects of self-instructional training could be enhanced by the addition of a relaxation training component. Fifteen impulsive first and second graders were selected and randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups: 1) self-instructional training alone; 2) self-instructional training plus relaxation; and 3) an attention control group. Each child was seen for four, twenty-minute sessions over two weeks. The Matching Familiar Figures Test and the Picture Arrangement and Coding subtests of the WISC-R were administered pre- and post-treatment. A multivariate analysis of variance revealed no significant difference between the three groups on post-treatment scores. Results were discussed in terms of the continuing promise of self-instructional training and relaxation training in attenuating impulsivity.