EF Strategy — Response Inhibition

by Laurie Moore Skillings, SCAC


Response inhibition is the capacity to think before acting, and to resist the urge to say or do something.  This ability allows a person the time to evaluate a situation and how his or her behavior might affect it.

Response inhibition is key to effective executive functions skills.

Response inhibition is one of the first executive functions skill to emerge during infancy, usually around 5 to 12 months of age.  At that time, we provided our frontal lobes to our children by keeping their environment safe.  We did this when we used gates, playpens, and put potentially dangerous items out of reach.  As diligent as we were, inevitable accidents would occur and along with them came natural consequences.

We know some of the ways that people can have difficulty with response inhibition: difficulty following rules, blurting answers out, starting a task without fully listening to the directions,…

You can help strengthen the executive functions skill of response inhibition and increase their self-control by using the following strategy, SELF-CONTROL:

Specify what impulsive behavior will be addressed

Establish when the impulsive behavior happens

Self Control

Self Control by Kolby Schnelli

List the desired behavior

Find ways to display desired behavior

Cue when desired behavior is expected

Offer a variety of cues to choose from (verbal, nonverbal)

Natural Consequence can be positive or negative

Try new strategy ahead of time

Regular practice of strategy

Observe how you did with strategy

Listen to yourself about how you did