EVERFI Content Team

Students can easily become distracted, but teaching self-control activities for kids will encourage them to focus on their work and make better choices. They will become more responsible people, and you will achieve more successful learning outcomes.

Here are three activities to help incorporate self-control lessons and techniques into your classroom:

1. Create an Environment That Rewards Self-Control

Creating a classroom environment that rewards self-control is a great first step. Why not give your students a reward if they monitor and control their behavior? Think of a reward that will excite them. You might not have the funds to take your students to Disney World, but the promise of a day out to a local park, library, or art gallery will certainly motivate them!

  • For elementary students, drawing on the chalkboard or picking a game at recess might serve as the ultimate prize.
  • For older children, you might need to be more creative. Rewards, such as listening to music during class or a homework pass, should serve to encourage middle and high school students to stay on track.

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2. Inspire Your Students

It’s important to explain the benefits of self-control to your students, regardless of their age. As a result, children can learn to delay instant gratification and concentrate on the task at hand. Advise your students that good things come to those who wait, and people are more successful in life when they practice a little self-discipline. Guide conversations discussing the pros and cons of improving self-control.

Self-Control Scenarios for Students to Practice

  • Wait patiently for your turn to speak or act.
  • Make plans to accomplish a goal.
  • Think about how your behavior or choices can affect other people.

Along with these self-control scenarios for students, teachers can reinforce these points by putting inspirational posters up around the classroom. Motivational quotes, shared goals, photos of celebrity role models – all of these will inspire your students on a day-to-day basis to practice self-control and to maintain focus.

Be sure to practice what you preach. Remove any distractions from your classroom that will sidetrack students:

Self-Control Examples

  • Turn off computers when you aren’t using them.
  • “Keep your hands, feet, and limbs to yourself.”
  • Ask students to turn their phones off before they enter your classroom.
  • Discourage students from turning up to class late.

Spark a wider conversation about self-discipline by asking your students to share tips for reducing distractions and incorporating some of their suggestions.

How your students behave in your classroom will influence how much they learn. By creating a classroom environment where you reward self-control, inspire your students, and play games that encourage discipline, you can achieve your goals.

3. Make Teaching Self-Control Fun

Self-control lessons aren’t about lecturing students on what they should and shouldn’t do. Make your learning outcomes more successful by creating and incorporating self-control activities for kids that encourage self-discipline in your classroom. These games can help children control their emotions and reinforce the benefits of self-control.

Games to Teach Self-Control

  • For elementary students, games that combine physical activity with the importance of following directions will strengthen self-regulation skills. Some of these include:
    • Simon Says
    • Red Light, Green Light
    • Musical Chairs
    • Freeze Dance
    • Mirror
  • Older students may benefit from apps and software that encourage  self-control, such as:
    • Forest, Stay Focused uses a simple, timed game to encourage students and adults to limit their phone usage. Users plant a digital seed that will grow into a tree if they do not exit the app during the allotted time (available for Android and iPhone).
    • Offtime limits phone usage so students can concentrate on their homework (available for Android and iPhone)

Teach Self-Control Through Social & Emotional Learning

Social and emotional development is essential to students’ success. EVERFI can help your students nurture skills like compassion, leadership, conflict resolution, self-awareness, and resilience.