Children with good self-control are able to pay attention to important information in their environment, such as instructions from teachers or parents, and ignore distractions.
Students Will: practice controlling behaviors and resisting distractions.
Materials: music, Impulse Control poster
Begin by asking the group if they can think of a time when they were tempted to do something that they knew they should not do. Give the example of seeing a freshly baked plate of cookies, but being told by a parent to wait until after dinner to have one. Explain that they would smell the cookies and would really want one, but they would also know what they had been told. Ask the following questions:
- What would you do? Would you wait until after dinner, or try to sneak one?
- What if you knew you could not get caught? Would you still take a cookie?
- What if your parents didn’t tell you anything about the cookies, but you saw them there. Would you take one then?
As you discuss this as a group, explain that resisting the urge to have a cookie requires a skill called self-control, and that all of us have moments when it is difficult to walk away from a tempting situation.
Mini Game Directions:
- Explain that they are going to move and dance around the room while music is playing. They will need to pay close attention, because when the music stops, they have to freeze in place and are not allowed to start moving again until the music resumes. If they don’t freeze or if they start moving before the music begins again, they will be “out” and will have to sit down.
- After a couple rounds, consider adding an extra challenge. When the music stops and kids are frozen, offer them an incentive to move, similar to the cookies in the pre-discussion. (This could be anything, not necessarily cookies!)
- Allow several rounds of the game before moving on to more discussion.
Helping children become more aware of their impulses is key to helping them learn self-control. In this activity, you are trying to help children remember that while they may want to move while they are supposed to be frozen, focusing on their actions will help them remember what they should be doing. After the activity has been completed, guide discussion with these questions:
- How did it feel to stop and freeze when the music paused?
- What helped you to be able to freeze? What may have made it difficult?
- Was it harder to stay frozen when I offered you treats to move?
- What are some everyday situations, at home or in school, when practicing self-control could help us?
Explain that the ability to control your behaviors and feelings is called impulse control. An impulse is a sudden, strong desire to do something, and to control our impulses, we need to apply our thinking skills. Hang the impulse control poster in your classroom after this lesson for students’ future