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What Were You Thinking?: Learning to Control Your Impulses (Executive Function) Paperback – Picture Book, January 31, 2016

4.7 out of 5 stars 1,946 ratings

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From the Publisher

Executive Function Series

Editorial Reviews


Controlling your impulses is a hard topic to teach to children. Finally a book that gets the point across in a humorous manner. I can't wait to use this with the children at my school. --Marjorie Edge, Elementary School Counselor

This book was perfect! It was exactly what I was hoping based on the title. It tells the story of Braden, a third grader, who has trouble controlling his impulses. The examples in the book were things my own son has done or would do, so it was very relatable for him and for me. The book lays out 4 simple steps to practicing impulse control. And while it's not simple to control yourself at a young age, the steps are easy to remember for both the child and the parent. I know we'll be using this method in our household and returning to this book again and again, My son got very animated while we were reading this book. I know he struggles a lot with keeping his hands to himself and making good choices, and he was pretty upset about how teachers make it seem so easy, when it's not. I appreciate that the character in this book is older than my son. It gives us both the understanding that it's OK that he is still working on these skills. I felt like the book was age appropriate for him (just finishing kindergarten) vs. it seeming like a baby book. It's certainly not. I would recommend this book very highly to parents and teachers of early elementary age children. My Rating: 5 stars --Mom's Radius, Life. Love. Books. Blog

What Were You Thinking? A story about Learning to Control Your Impulses by Bryan Smith is not a cure for impulsive actions. But it does help kids stop and give thought in a creative way, to things they are about to do that could possibly get them in trouble. Written for the elementary-age child (though my son is 6 and some of it was a little hard for him to comprehend), What Were You Thinking is a story about a third-grader named Braden who has a lot of trouble controlling his impulses. In the book, his school teacher teaches the kids how to stop and think about what they are getting ready to do before they do it and that they don t have to do everything their bodies are telling them to do.

What is really working for my son is when the teacher points out every time Braden does something impulsive he needs to ask himself, Did that make my situation better or worse? --Alexandra, blogger at

About the Author

Bryan Smith comes from a family of educators. He has worked in the education field for more than 15 years. He began his career as an elementary school teacher before realizing he had a talent for helping children deal with difficult issues. He has since become a school counselor, where he flourishes teaching students life skills that will help them succeed.
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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Boys Town Press; 1st edition (January 31, 2016)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 31 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1934490962
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1934490969
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 6 - 9 years, from customers
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ 3 - 4
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 4 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 8.9 x 0.3 x 8.9 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 1,946 ratings

About the authors

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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
1,946 global ratings

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Top reviews from other countries

Nina Lee
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a good message for helping impulsive behaviours
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on January 6, 2019
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1.0 out of 5 stars Not a good message for helping impulsive behaviours
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on January 6, 2019
I understand the concept of using repetition in children’s books, but the constant message “what were you thinking?” seemed to be demeaning the the child. How do you respond when someone says that to you? It’s a backwards way of saying ‘you weren’t thinking’. Having someone constantly remind a child “what were you thinking?” isn’t going to change a child’s impulsive behaviours. Children who have difficulty controlling their impulses can’t just ‘stop and think’ before they act-it’s the nature of impulsivity. I don’t know what I was thinking by purchasing this book. I didn’t find this book helpful and will be returning it.
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12 people found this helpful
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great buy!
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on July 23, 2020
Claire R
4.0 out of 5 stars Its an ok boo, there are better
Reviewed in Australia 🇦🇺 on August 21, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent resource when teaching children about choice
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on May 1, 2018
Shari Reid
5.0 out of 5 stars A good resource for grades 2-4
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on December 22, 2018