Impulse control, or self-control, is the ability to resist temptations, urges, or impulses in order to meet one’s goals. Children with good self-control are able to pay attention to important information in their environment, such as instructions from teachers or parents. And these impulse control activities can provide students with the opportunity to practice and improve their 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 activity is best suited for an outdoor space like the playground.
Recommended Grade Level: Elementary
SEL Skill(s): Impulse Control, Communication
Duration: 45 minutes
- Ground markers, like cones or bases
- Instructions printable
Impulse Control Lesson Directions
- 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?
Discuss with students that having to start over in these impulse control activities are similar to what happens when you interrupt others in conversation. If you’re always interrupting, the conversation starts over, and you lose the momentum you’ve built with the other person. And even if you don’t interrupt, but you just stop listening intently, you’ll often miss important information.