There are several skill sets that make it easier for Christians to obey God and avoid sinning. Several of them overlap with the skill of impulse control (self-control, patience and perseverance). Impulse control means that instead of acting or reacting without thinking, the person stops and considers the possible options and chooses the wisest one before saying or doing anything. The less impulse control a person has, the more likely they are to give in to temptation and sin.
Secular educators realize the benefits of impulse control for purely secular reasons. As a result, they promote activities that help children develop more impulse control. While many of the activities that can help in a secular classroom setting don’t always translate well to the weekly Bible class setting, there are still some activities Bible class teachers can use to help their students improve their impulse control. Here are ten of our favorites.
- Taking turns. Bible classes are often less formal than the typical classroom setting. Finding opportunities for young Bible students to take turns can also give them practice in impulse control. For example, instead of placing all the materials for an activity within reach of every student, ask them to sit quietly while you give students needed materials one at a time.
- Play the ”rock” game. Ask students to wait a minute or two for the next activity, etc. While they are waiting, they should pretend to be a ”rock” – no talking or moving.
- Use scenarios. Think up various scenarios that would require your students to use impulse control to navigate them well. Have students act out what they believe is the ”solution” to the given scenarios.
- Bible charades. Charades requires controlling movements and the actor can’t talk. Players who aren’t guessing also need to control their impulse to blurt out the right answer, because doing so would give the opposing team a free point.
- Readers’ Theater. Especially useful for children with special needs, Readers’ Theater scripts teach children appropriate strategies as they read the various roles in the scenario. Other students may benefit more from writing and performing their own scripts on the topic.
- Making Good Choices skill training. Our printable parenting resource on Making Good Choices walks Bible students step by step through controlling their impulses as they make carefully thought out choices. Give them lots of practice using common choices for their age group.
- Bible games that require taking turns. Bible games are often a fun way to review Bible knowledge. Focus on games that require students to take turns.
- Scripture Meditation Minute. Give students a Bible verse to think about for one minute. At first, you may want to provide paper and markers for students to write or draw their thoughts on the verse as they think about it. Over time, gradually move them towards meditating on the scripture without any aids. During the meditation minute, there should be no talking and minimal movement.
- Make edible models of the Tabernacle, Temple and other Bible structures. If the materials are favorite snack foods, this works even better. Can they complete the structure without eating their ”building materials”?
- Grinding grain and using it to make unleavened bread. Activities that have an appealing final product can improve impulse control as students have to control any frustration they may feel as they work to create the edible unleavened bread or other product.
With older elementary Bible students, discuss the importance of impulse control in avoiding sin. Encourage them to practice impulse control at home by playing games like Jenga and using the strategies they have learned in your class.