Impulse Control Activities & Worksheets for Elementary Students

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Impulse control in the classroom is a skill all students need to learn. Impulse, or the tendency to act without considering the results of your actions, leads to dangerous situations in which our children are involved. Impulsivity also makes many adults feel lazy, incompetent, and stupid. Impulse-control skills are important for success in life. Impulse control is a concept that covers a range of behaviors kids should practice, from an impulse purchase of products to impulse eating and other unhealthy behaviors.

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Two great activities to teach kids self-control and impulse control are the Swiss Ball and the Marshmallow Test. The Swiss Ball is a simple challenge that can be easily set up in the classroom and gives kids an impulsive test of stamina, agility, and strength. Setting up the Swiss Ball involves arranging two small balls, one in each hand, facing each other.

Invite a student to stand in front of a red or yellow traffic light. While waiting for the green light to go, aim the marshmallow toward the red light and wait until it sends the ball toward the yellow light. The speed with which the marshmallow bounces depends on how long it takes for the child to understand that the object in front of him or her is moving and will slow down or stop moving once it contacts the light. Once the ball has passed through the yellow light, count the number of steps it took to get to the red light. Encourage the child to keep going until he reaches the end of the tunnel.

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The Marshmallow Test is a fun and easy impulsivity and self-control activity that kids of all ages can participate in. It consists of arranging small balls, such as dunes or rice balls, into different colors and arranging them in a straight line. You can do this with one group of children or with several groups of friends.

Set up the marshmallow obstacle course by laying out the flat boards with the holes in them. It can be made from wood, plywood, carpet, or cardboard depending on your child’s preferences. A small round table may be useful for this activity, or you can use a large table or a pair of chairs. For an extra challenge, you can replace the small balls with coins that flip when they are moved.

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Another fun impulsivity and self-control activity for kids are the Jumping Board. Have kids stand at a long wooden board with a small hole in the center. In an impulsive manner, have each kid jump as high as he or she can. Once he or she has jumped a few times, throw the board away and replace it with another board. Make sure that you have enough boards, so that some kids will not feel like they have to rush to the finish line.

Another impulsive and impulse control activity for kids is the “ikedarp” game. Divide the class into two teams. Have two kids on each team. Have the first team to complete the “ikedarp” by successfully passing over a cone marked “X” onto the next team. The second team must do the “ikedarp” but must not touch or bump the cone.

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These activities are great teaching tools for helping kids learn better self-control and more importantly, self-awareness. These steps are great examples of how to handle impulsive behavior. As your children grow older, they will learn to take these things into their own hands. They will learn when their impulsive behavior is taking too much control, and they will be able to recognize when they are out of line. Impaired self-control can be learned, and your children can grow into better, more disciplined people.

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