I believe God designed us to learn self-control during early childhood but for a number of reasons, this doesn’t always happen. Let’s be honest–some children have stronger wills than others and insist on touching the “hot stove” even when they are told not to. Poor impulse control can manifest in different ways–constant interruptions during conversations, throwing a fit, ignoring instructions or grabbing everything that interests them.
Overcoming all these impulses requires self-discipline or self-control. Since children are naturally impulse, this can present a true challenge for them. Add a condition like ADHD and you’ll notice these impulses soar. Arm your children with self-control by teaching them what the Bible says about controlling themselves.
Don’t bite it! For this object lesson, you’ll need some sticks of gum. Share the kids this verse: “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” (Proverbs 25:28) Explain to the kids that when we don’t have self control, it affects our souls. We must keep up the walls by displaying self control. Call forward some volunteers and ask them to poke out their tongues. Unwrap the gum and place it on the child’s tongue. Tell them they have to leave it on the tongue but they can’t bite it. Whoever goes the longest is the winner! After a winner is declared, explain that you know how hard it is to have self-control but with practice, it becomes easier.
Laugh out loud! Also known as the “giggle game,” the laugh out loud game is a hilarious way to show self control. One child sits in a chair while children take turns trying to make the seated child laugh. The only rule–you can’t touch the child! Each child has 30 seconds to make the child laugh. If she laughs, the one who induced the laughter gets to take the seat. It’s that easy! Before the game begins or after, talk to the children about self control. Share a verse like, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
Self-control is crucial for growth. Introducing the subject regularly will keep kids thinking about getting stronger in the Lord.