Overcoming Obstacles

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Lesson 4: Self-Control

Standards Addressed

  • Students will understand the need for self-control and how to practice it.
  • Students will distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate behavior.
  • Students will use visual displays to support verbal communication and clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.


  • Students will understand what it means to have self-control.

  • Students will understand self-control shows responsibility and independence.

  • Students will understand that self-control helps one resist temptation.

  • Students will practice self-control techniques.


  • Picture of a stoplight (“I Do”)

  • Red and green construction paper (“We Do”)

  • Black, red, yellow, and green construction paper for each student (“You Do”)

  • Safety scissors (“You Do”)

  • Glue stick (“You Do”)


Discuss several scenarios with your students and ask them to determine how the student in each example could practice self-control. Sample scenarios can include:

  • The class has birthday cupcakes for a snack. One student wants to have more than one, but then there would not be enough for everyone.
  • A student wants to play a classroom toy, but another student is already playing with it.
  • A student really wants to tell his teacher something, but the teacher is reading to the class.

Teacher Presented Knowledge / I Do

Hold up a picture of a stoplight and ask students, “Have you ever seen a stoplight?” After they respond, ask, “What happens when the stoplight is red?” Once they answer, ask, “What happens if you are really late and you want to go through a red stoplight?” (Go over examples of what can happen if someone goes through a red light.)

On the board, draw a red circle and write “STOP and calm down” in the red circle. Tell students, “When using self-control, we stop and calm down.”

What is the yellow light for? (Explain that a yellow light provides time for a driver to think, “Should I stop quickly, or am I already almost through the light?” A driver would not want to stop in the middle of an intersection and therefore has to think about what he/she is doing.) Draw a yellow circle on the board and write “THINK of solutions and consequences” in the yellow circle.

What is the green light for? (Discuss how and why it is safe to go on the green light.) Draw a green circle on the board and write “GO ahead and try the best action” on the green circle.

Next, introduce students to self-control strategies (model each strategy as you explain them to the students):

  • First, take a deep breath.
  • Next, count backward from 10.
  • Last, think about what will happen if you do the behavior.

Use the stoplight in the classroom for a visual reminder.

Guided Student Practice / We Do

Play the “Red Light, Green Light” game. Chose a student to stand at the front of the class and give him or her a green light (or green sheet of paper) and red light (or red sheet of paper). Tell the class that when the student holds up the green light, it means “GO,” and that they should walk forward, dance, or do some other form of physical activity. When the student holds up the red light, it means “STOP,” and students are to stop whatever they are doing. Play this game a few rounds, and then reverse the rules so that green means “STOP” and red means “GO.” Students will have to go against their impulses and use self-control to follow the reverse directions.

Student Independent Practice / You Do

Tell students that they are going to create their own “Self-Control Stoplights” to help them remember self-control steps. Distribute black, red, yellow, and green construction paper. Direct students to create their own “Self-Control Stoplights” to tape to their desks.


Review the “Self-Control Stoplights” with students and remind them that they have the choice to use self-control every day. When they use self-control, they are choosing to be responsible and more independent.

Student Assessment

  1. Why should you use self-control?
  2. What does using self-control look like?
  3. What should you do if you feel yourself getting out of control?
  4. How does using self-control help you?

Extensions for Lesson 4: Self-Control

Art Extension

After reading No, David!, by David Shannon, ask students to illustrate a part of the book where David should have shown self-control. Collect all drawings and make a new book titled Yes, David! Once the book is complete, read the new book to the students and display it in the classroom.

Art Extension

Have students create a coloring book page and use their self-control to color within the lines.

Art Extension

Have students fold a piece of paper in half lengthways. On one side draw a person showing self-control and on the other side draw a person not using self-control.

Drama Extension

Direct students to role-play situations that require self-control. (For example, I want to talk to my friend while my teacher is reading my class a story. Should I distract my classmates and talk to my friend? Or should I not?)

Literature Extension

Read the story Just Enough, by Teri Daniels. After the reading, ask students the following questions: How did the boy in Just Enough show self-control? Can you do some of the things that this boy can do with self-control?

Literature Extension

Read Play with Me, by Marie Hall Ets. Discuss with students how the main character makes friends using self-control.

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