Impulse control, or self-control, is the ability to resist temptations, urges, or impulses in order to meet one’s goals. Students with good self-control are able to pay attention to important information in their environment, such as instructions from teachers or parents. To help your students improve, these impulse control activities for kids allow students to practice self-management in a controlled environment.
In this lesson, students will learn to listen carefully, focus, and wait for the other person to finish speaking.
Note: This impulse control activity is best suited for an outdoor space like the playground; however, if outdoors isn’t an option, or if a group activity isn’t the best option, please consider using our online SEL interventions.
Recommended Grade Level: Elementary
SEL Skill(s): Impulse Control, Communication
Duration: 45 minutes
- Ground markers, like cones or bases
- Instructions printable
Impulse Control Activities for Kids Lesson Instructions
Explain to your students that having to start over in these impulse control activities is similar to what happens when you interrupt others in conversation. If you’re always interrupting, the conversation has to start over, and you lose the momentum you’ve built with the other person. And even if you don’t interrupt, but you lose your focus and stop listening, you’ll miss important information.
- Choose a starting line and place a marker about 20 feet ahead, and another about 20 feet beyond that. Feel free to add as many markers as you want or have space for.
- Have students line up next to each other at the starting line.
- Tell students that when they hear the word “Go,” they should run to the first cone. If they start running before they hear “Go,” they won’t get to move to the next cone.
- You will tempt students’ impulses by substituting “Go” with other G-words like “grow,” “gotcha,” “grin,” etc. Say the phrase “Ready….Set….G…..” slowly before completing the phrase with your chosen G-word.
- If a student has made it to the first of second cone and false starts on a word other than “Go,” the student must go all the way back to the beginning.
- Was it hard to wait until the game leader was done talking to start running? Why or why not?
- Did you use any strategies to stay still until you heard the word “Go”? What were they?
- Did you have any false starts where you had to go back to the beginning? How did that feel to have to start over?
Impulse Control Activities When Using Centervention Online Programs
Impulse Control is one of the six primary skills embedded in our online curriculum, and students will find numerous opportunities to practice and improve this skill within game scenes.
For example, in scene one of Zoo Academy, players must help Owlivia the owl manage her impulses and follow classroom rules while the teacher reads a story. And in scene two of Zoo U, players must follow directions and stay on task in order to learn the correct food to feed Tiny the Elephant.
In all cases, students develop these skills in a safe, digital environment, and as they improve, you will see changes in the classroom.
- Me and My Feelings: by Vanessa Green Allen
- What Should Danny Do? by Adir Levy
- What Were You Thinking? by Bryan Smith