Building Self-Control : A Lesson Plan for Children's Church

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Objectives: To define self-control and lack thereof.  To identify tools that the students can use to build self-control.  To develop students who display self-control in their personal lives.  This lesson is geared towards a children’s church classroom setting of 1st -5th graders.
Materials: A game like Jenga or Operation, cardboard bricks or building blocks with words  from Proverbs 25:28 on each brick/block, Proverbs 25:28 written on a white board or construction paper, Bible, gum drops in baggies with toothpicks, paper plates, an example of a gum drop tower

Self-control coloring page
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Optional Coloring Page: You can download our free self-control coloring page to use along with this lesson plan. It pictures a young boy throwing a temper tantrum while shopping with his mom. Opposite this scenes is another with a young girl patiently walking beside her mother’s cart.
Optional Game Idea: We’ve made a video demonstrating a new game about self-control. We call it Ninja and it has quickly become a favorite with our older children.
Bible Basis: “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.”  – Proverbs 25:28
Anticipatory Set: If you have the game Jenga, utilize it to catch the students’ attention.  If not, use any type of game that requires self -control and slow and careful movements (Operation is another great game to use as an example.)

  1. Select a student to play against.
  2. Begin play while you introduce self-control.  Explain that self-control isn’t easy.  It takes time and wise choices.  It means thinking before you act.
  3. Give an example of self-control.  (Possible examples could include:  speaking kindness towards someone you may not like, not gossiping, not complaining, using your time wisely, making healthy food choices, not hitting someone or getting in fights, etc.)
  4. Have the students brainstorm examples of self-control also.
  5. Share Proverbs 25:28 with the students (using the visual.)  Ask the following questions:  What would happen to a city if its walls were broken down?  (It would be easily attacked by enemies.)  What if we don’t have self-control?  What happens to us?  (We become weak.  Sin destroys us little by little.)
  6. Review some examples of people who lacked self-control in the Bible with a Guess Who Game.
  • Who lacked self-control by eating a piece of fruit, even though God had commanded against it?  (Eve)
  • Who lacked self-control by giving into peer pressure and ate a piece of fruit also?  (Adam)
  • Who lacked self-control by letting jealousy control him and killing his brother Abel?  (Cain)
  • Who lacked self-control by complaining in the wilderness to Moses?  (the Israelites)
  • Who lacked self-control by spending all of his money on wild living?  (the Prodigal son)

Bible Lesson: Matthew 4:1-11:  How Jesus Used Self-Control in the Desert

  1. Ask the students if they have ever gone a meal without food?  A day?  Have them imagine 40.  Tell them that in our story today, Jesus has gone 40 days and 40 nights without food.  Ask them to imagine what Jesus would have felt like.  (Weak, tired, dizzy, confused maybe)
  2. Explain that Satan is going to try to get Jesus to sin.  He tempts Him when He is weak.  He tempts us when we’re weak too.  Ask the students to listen for what Satan asks Jesus to do.  When they hear his temptation, have them put their hands on top of their heads.
  3. Have the students open up their Bibles to Matthew 4:1-11.  Read verses 1-3.  (All hands should be on students’ heads.)  What does Satan ask Jesus to do? (Tell stones to become bread – be relevant.)   Read verse 4 as a choral reading.
  4. Read verses 5-6.  (All hands should be on heads.)  What does Satan ask Jesus to do?  (Throw himself down – be spectacular.)  Read verse 7 as a choral reading.
  5. Read verses 8-9.  (All hands should be on heads.)  What does Satan ask Jesus to do?  (Bow down and worship him – to be powerful.)  Read verse 10 as a choral reading.  Finish with verse 11.  Give Jesus a round of applause for showing self control, even when he was weak, tired, and hungry!
  6. Ask the students what Jesus kept repeating when He responded to Jesus.  (Hopefully the choral reading will help them identify the words, “It is written.”)
  7. Explain that Jesus used scripture to fight Satan.  Jesus knew the Word of God!  Explain that there is no better tool for fighting temptation.  The Word of God will help us all with self-control!

Application: Ask the students to think about the following questions:  Is there an area of your life that needs self-control?  Is it your tongue?  Do you talk about people?  Do you complain?  Do you use language that would hurt the heart of God?  Or maybe you have a hard time keeping your hands to yourself if you’re angry or frustrated about something.   Do you hit, push, or kick?  What about your free time?  Do you spend time with God during the day?  Do you help around the house and do your homework?  Or do you lack self-control and spend too much time on the computer, watching TV, or playing video games?
Tell the students to consider memorizing a verse (like Proverbs 25:28) to help them have self-control.  Since another important tool is prayer, pray for the students that God will grow self-control in them this week.
Memory Verse Game: Ahead of time, tape the words of the memory verse individually on the bricks or blocks available.  Make another set as well, making certain to keep it separate from the first set.

  1. Separate the students into teams and distribute a pile of memory verse blocks to each.
  2. Tell the students that they are to build a tower with their memory verse.  The verse should start on the top and end on the bottom.  (So they will have to figure it out backwards!)  The first team to have their tower completed will win.
  3. Once a winner has been identified, the students are allowed to knock over their towers, shuffle their bricks, and begin building again for a round two.

Self- Control Tower Art Project: Have the students build gum drop towers with toothpicks.

  1. Present your tower example and tell the students that our art project today will utilize self-control and patience.   The students can choose to take their towers home with them to eat or  place them in their rooms to remind them to have self-control this week!
  2. Distribute supplies:  paper plates with student names on them, toothpicks, and baggies of gumdrops.
  3. Have the students create their Self-Control Towers!
New Sunday School Curriculum: Our Bible lessons are designed to keep the kids’ attention and show how God's Word makes a difference. Every series is flexible enough for a wide-age group and affordable enough for small churches. Download a free Bible lesson in pdf or view our latest Sunday School curriculum for small churches.