In the picture above the kids are practicing self-control. They have to keep their hands on their knees and not pop any bubbles. VERY difficult but they are so proud when they are successful. We talk about what control feels like and how they are able to achieve it. This activity is crucial for my class to develop and understanding of the vocabulary and the feeling associated with self-control. I do promise them they will get a chance to pop the bubbles after we are successful with self-control. Another activity uses music instruments (maracas, symbols, etc.) The kids get in a circle and they have to pass the instrument to the next student without making music (shaking, banging, etc) Also very difficult! I hope to come up with more of these type activities so we can continue to practice all year.
Teaching self-control is an important part of my “behavior plan” in the classroom. I often hear teachers complain (including myself) about kids lack of self-control but what are we doing to help kids learn about it? One of my big concerns is that for kids to practice self-control they need to be given opportunities to be in control. This is why I don’t use behavior systems or rewards in my class. I feel those take the control (power) away from the kids and place the control with the teacher. Another major part of self-control is I rarely tell kids you “can not” do something. This DOES NOT mean I let them do what they want but instead it changes the wording I use with the kids. For example: Johnny does cartwheels across the room. I would say “Johnny, you can do cartwheels but self-control means you choose not to because you might hurt someone.” I repeat this over and over with my kids and we talk about it a lot in the room. I give examples often of adults that have to have self-control so they know we all have to make choices. For example: “guess what class, I saw a piece of chocolate cake in the staff refrigerator. I could have eaten it but I chose not to because it wasn’t mine.”
I have found this way of handling most behavior to be very successful and I feel it works because I am supporting the kids, telling they why the behavior does not work in our class and giving them the control to fix the behavior. Giving kids the power to choose and the understanding of what control looks like has led to a happy classroom for us all.