Should we be more forgiving if someone's misbehavior is due to ...

Jump to Last Post 1-14 of 14 discussions (26 posts)
  1. Aya Katz profile image81
    Aya Katzposted 14 years ago

    ...poor impulse control rather than premeditation?

    This question is partially inspired by Lisa HW's hub about belonging to a religion, but my interest in this question is practical, not religious.

    Lisa mentioned that a small child stealing a candy bar at age five is not "evil" -- it's just a matter of impulse control that improves with age. I don't disagree with that. But a lot adult misbehavior is also due to poor impulse control.

    Degree of control over impulses is not just a matter of age or experience -- it's also a personality trait. Some children have remarkable self-control, and some adults are amazingly impulsive.

    This is evident even in behavior that is not strictly speaking a crime. We all know people who lose their temper easily. They later ask to have everything they did disregarded, because they "didn't mean it. It just happened."

    From a purely practical standpoint, what is a good deterrent to impulsive misbehavior? These people don't think ahead, and you can't supervise them all the time. Fear of future consequences has no effect. What can be done?

  2. shamelabboush profile image55
    shamelabboushposted 14 years ago

    Anger can be ugly sometimes. There are people who have no control upon themselves so they lose their temper quickly... On the other hand, they also cool down quickly as they snapped in the beginning. I have a friend like that who boils when he gets angry, but after few minutes, he regrets his behavior and apologizes.

    1. Aya Katz profile image81
      Aya Katzposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Yeah, I think we all know people like that. It's easy to forgive the first time it happens, because the remorse is genuine. But... what is a good deterrent to future occurrences?

      1. shamelabboush profile image55
        shamelabboushposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        There is no guarantee!!! It's in their nature. They just can't change it i think, so the responsibility relies on us, their friends, to handle them. This all applies if they were goodhearted. I'm not talking about those snappy villains...

    2. Daniel Carter profile image60
      Daniel Carterposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      I have a good friend with a lot of anger issues. As a result, he is abusive to a lot of people. Not all anger pointed at someone is abuse, but in many cases he does cross the line.

      At one point, after a nearly violent incident with him, I calmly put my finger in his face and said, "You are my friend, but I am NOT your garbage can. Never again will I tolerate your terrible behavior. If you ever explode at me again, you will never see me again."

      He apologized, and he has been on perpetual good behavior again.

      We teach people how to treat us. If we allow them to treat us badly, they will continue to do so.

      1. Daniel Carter profile image60
        Daniel Carterposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        BTW, I DO believe in forgiveness. But I also see that if you continually forgive and pretend nothing is wrong, and the problem continues, then it becomes enabling. Enabling the other person to persist in bad behavior. Even people with mental disorders get that their behavior is bad, and that in many cases can be controlled at least to an extent.

        That being said, we do the other person a huge disservice if we only enable them. They must understand the consequence of their actions. In most all cases, the offender is able to understand the negative consequences of his/her actions. Therefore, it's fair to stop enabling them to continue.

        Sometimes being "the nice guy" is more about enabling than anything else. In actual fact we are indirectly the bad guy because we allow the bad behavior to continue, thus allowing the person to continue to do the same to others.

        There is a balance between showing mercy, gentleness, compassion and understanding, combined with hard hitting stopping of the enabling to behave badly.

        At least, these are my experiences.

        1. shamelabboush profile image55
          shamelabboushposted 14 years agoin reply to this

          I perfectly agree with you...

        2. profile image0
          \Brenda Scullyposted 14 years agoin reply to this

          i think that is called tough love.... hard sometimes to determine what is a persons personality and what is the condition they are carrying...... they can get quite manipulative at times

      2. profile image0
        rednckwmnposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        I am now your fan.

  3. Shalini Kagal profile image55
    Shalini Kagalposted 14 years ago

    Tough to say Aya. If you're focussing on the forgiveness bit, then the person who is involved or watching will have to be rather mature and objective to separate the person from the impulse. Even impulsive behaviour can evoke a lot of anger. If you're talking about the person, without some kind of help - counselling or meds, control is rather tough to achieve!

  4. Aya Katz profile image81
    Aya Katzposted 14 years ago

    Okay. That's true. But say you are committed not just to stick by them, but also to help them develop better impulse control? What is a good strategy to do that?

    1. shamelabboush profile image55
      shamelabboushposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      I'd follow daniel Carter's version (my previous fellow hubber) of teaching those friends how to behave with us. All they need is just a nice reproach..

  5. profile image0
    \Brenda Scullyposted 14 years ago

    I believe however much a person has problems, with anger issues etc......  another human being who can put them selves along side that one and understand why, can help the situation... If a child has lots of issues, they need to be commended when they do something good, rather than be told off every time they err.  It sounds simple but of course so many other issues come into play with years, substance abuse etc etc...

    I firmly believe you can help someone with any difficulty, if you are non judgemental, and kind and loving...... and especially if you love that person.   Help for many is unobtainable or expensive, so what do ya do about that....

  6. Aya Katz profile image81
    Aya Katzposted 14 years ago

    Daniel Carter, I agree with you. The strategy I prefer is to maintain consequences for bad behavior even while understanding that it's a problem of impulse control. No consequences would send the wrong message.

    Nevertheless, it is discouraging when Draconian consequences that follow regularly after each infraction have little or no deterrent power.

  7. Ms Chievous profile image66
    Ms Chievousposted 14 years ago

    Great question.... I deal with people with poor impulse control all day long.  I work in a structured setting so they are held accounatable.  Somtimes that is enough to deter any futre outbursts.  But most of the time it is not.  It is kind of a vicious cycle.  The population I work with is supposed  to learn to correct their behviors but often they learn to depend on ohters to control or to take medication to help them control themselves. bad bad bad

  8. Lisa HW profile image62
    Lisa HWposted 14 years ago

    Aya, your thread caught my eye because I spent time on a "forgiveness" thread last week - and I was surprised to see your reference to my religion Hub (surprised anyone would read it at all, in fact  lol). 

    I do think a lot of children's behavior should easily be forgiven, and that children should be helped to know that while what they did was wrong, all children "mess up" from time to time because they're children.  I think, though, there's a difference in what takes place in the mind of a child and what takes place in the mind of (at least some) adults, who don't control themselves.

    In the candy-swiping incident I mentioned that took place when I was a preschooler, I was oblivious to the idea that all those boxes of penny candy on the shelves belonged to someone.  To me, they were more like, say, blades of grass (which also belong to a property owner too, but which just seem "public" or "free" to a young child).  A young child doesn't really sort out something like freedom to pick the grass in her own yard versus that at the park.  I was smart enough to know there was a difference between the candy and grass, and I knew that "in general" people paid for stuff at stores.  Then again, I knew that small pieces of candy are often left out in dishes in homes, for anyone to have one.  I was smart enough to know the difference, intellectually; but it was like all the "details" of the situation also kind of blurred and then combined with my wish to have that perfect rectangular piece of candy.  (I've always liked rectangles.  lol  )  I think, really, I didn't really see it as wrong to take the candy, but I knew my parents would not approve of it.  In other words, I used a preschooler's brain to "reason out" whether it was "really wrong", but my wanting it as badly as I did kicked in and colored my so-called "reasoning". 

    (I remember being around the same age and kind of thinking that if something fell behind the couch it was gone forever into some "black hole".  I was a generally smart kid, but for some reason I didn't "think up myself" that it's possible for an adult to simply move a couch.  Had someone moved a couch in my presence, I would have seen that.  The point is that little kids  don't have the "information about the goings on in the world" to really be able to reason things out properly.  Throw in the immaturity of seeing a chocolate rectangle as appealing, for some reason, and you have candy theft.  lol  I never would have been caught if I hadn't been stupid enough to tell the woman who owned the store, "This is a rock in my pocket."  lol

    With adults, though, it's different.  They have that "information about how the world works".  They know that that woman in the drug store has ordered x number of cases of candy and had to pay for them.  They know that couches can be moved and that it isn't "a black hole" behind them.  Some adults can control themselves and don't - ever.  Others will control themselves in some situations or with some people but not in other situations or with other people. In other words, they, too, can control their impulses if they want to.  Some people may have difficulty with impulse control, but adults should be able to find ways to deal with that difficulty by using one technique or another. 

    Some people just didn't have parents who taught them what isn't acceptable, back when they were two years old and throwing fits and hitting people.  As far as they go, I just think it's time they learn once they're adults.

    If someone has brain damage and/or developmental delays, it makes sense to consider that before "writing them off" as poorly behaved.  Then, though, it is known that even people without obvious brain damage and even with average or high IQ's can have "faulty wiring"  if they didn't get just the right kind of nurturing (to build the right synapses) in the first three years of life.  Again, though, I'd go back to the thing that if someone has a problem "over-responding" to aggravations or stress, as an adult they need to figure out a way to manage that problem (because they are capable of understanding what is socially acceptable and what isn't, and they are capable of understanding the concept of their actions on other people).

  9. Misha profile image64
    Mishaposted 14 years ago

    Wow DM, we finally have a pic of you. smile

    And I love it! smile

    1. profile image0
      rednckwmnposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      the other one was me too!! Only on a more lazy day.
      and thank you.  smile

      I had a bad day today and am slightly drunk now. Can't promise the pic will stil be up tomorrow when I am feeling sober...turns out I am having girls night out all by myslef, save for ralwus and you...

  10. Aya Katz profile image81
    Aya Katzposted 14 years ago

    Lisa HW, thank you for the thorough reply! I would have posted a comment on your hub, except there was no comment box, or I couldn't find it, anyway.

    Of course, we expect more of adults than of children. But impulse control, as an explanation for a behavior, can be equally valid in both cases. Some very small children have no problem with impulse control, while others really struggle with it. Some adults never attain to the impulse control we expect of a ten year old. When the issue is one of impulse control -- rather than something else -- it makes no difference how intelligent, educated or aware of consequences the person is.

    Some people even impulsively hurt themselves. It is not necessarily about gain or temptation to get something. Have you ever looked down from a few stories up and had the impulse to jump, but checked yourself? Now, imagine that you didn't have the control to do that...

    My question is: what is a good strategy to help a person with poor impulse control improve that control?

  11. Misha profile image64
    Mishaposted 14 years ago

    LOL One could hardly see some kind of shadow body on the other one lol

    And I hope Charlie will be active to entertain you, as for myself you know my situation smile

    1. profile image0
      rednckwmnposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      you both have real lives and real wives to attend too. Take care. Hope all is well soon. I am going to drink untill I pass out, and maybe be back on tomorrow, with a hangover and a remorsefull ..oh my..did I really type THAT?
      I can entertain myself, have no fear dear ones.  smile

      1. profile image49
        BadCoposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        Jeeeeeez you have become really fiesty the last month, I am liking it though smile

  12. Mighty Mom profile image76
    Mighty Momposted 14 years ago

    I practice impulse control every day when it comes to drinking, but now that I'm here, I'd be happy to join you in girls' night out, Rednckwmn!
    Name your poison! MM

    1. profile image0
      rednckwmnposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      straight up WHISKEY!!!! NOTHING burns like that!!!

  13. profile image0
    lynnechandlerposted 14 years ago

    I like the pic too. I can't join you or I would.

    In ref to the question at hand, you need to be supportive without being enabling of their impulsive nature. I think if you had an example it might be clearer what to do.

    I dealt with this for a long time with my daughter. She was told from one parent that she would never achieve any kind of success in her life and that was validated by that parents spouse. She would come home in tears and we would spend the next two weeks building her back up and then it would be shot again in a very short time because she wanted that acceptance and validation from someone whom she thought mattered in her life.

    Knowing what brings on the impulsive behavior helps. Unfortunately, we went down a hard road of abusive manipulative relationships as she started dating and became a young adult. It took being beaten to the point of unconciousness to say enough is enough and she stepped out of the dating arena for three years. Only recently has she walked back into it and has found a really sincere young man whom worships the ground she walks on and lifts her up constantly, but if he didn't she would probably resort to sabotaging this relationship as undeserving because that thought is still there in the back of her mind.

    Impulsive behavior can stem from a number of things but in no way should we sit back and enable the person to continue on the road they are choosing. You have to redirect them into a better way of thinking and making a rational observation. For some it may take a life altering event to start down a road that will lead them away from an impulsive behavior that could potentially be harmful, for others it is the direction and uplifting ability of friends and family.

    The one thing you need to do to help your friend is to find out what started this path they are on and seek a way to direct them back. Never chastise them with words of condemnation that what they are doing is wrong it will only make them want to do it that much more. You have to be able to explain it without the condemning factors.

    I hope that helps.

  14. Lisa HW profile image62
    Lisa HWposted 14 years ago

    Aya, I think (based, for one thing, on my own example of that isolated instance of trouble with impulse control) that even the child with otherwise excellent impulse control may slip up in the face of some temptation.  I was generally a kid who was really, really, well behaved and very socially mature.  My parents made the mistake of simplifying things by thinking in terms of, "You're old enough to know better."  My point is that if a kid as generally "in control" as I was could give in to impulse, any kid probably would (in their own set of circumstances that were tempting).  The difference between a "self-controlled" kid like me and some other kid may just be that I had only the occasion incident of struggling with impulse control, while another kid may have been one to freely hit other kids or otherwise act up.

    I have been on some high places and had that urge to jump off because it seems like it would be fun (even though "my head" knows how gravity works  lol ).  I think if an adult had so little impulse control that he may do that type of thing that would be someone who needed supervision, or who may even be considered "a danger to himself or others" and need to be confined.  If an adult had the psychological problem of being unable to control the impulse to steal, then I think he needs to be court-ordered to stay out of stores (for his own and the store's good).  An adult with impulse control problems to the point where he'd commit crimes has a psychological problem; but even if we understand why someone like this commits a crime, I don't think he ought to get a pass for it.  I mean, even someone with a problem like being a "shop-a-holic" may have impulse control, but it's the responsibility of that person to stay away from stores if that's his/her problem.   The way I see it, someone (an adult) either has a big impulse-control problem that calls for psychiatric help and, in some cases, supervision; or else a small problem, which calls for the person's figuring out what he has to do to get a grip on it.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)