Self control is not only a fruit of the Spirit, it is crucial for living the Christian life. With poor self control, sinning becomes easy. Self control is easiest if developed in childhood. Even if the parents of your Bible students aren’t working with their children on self control, there are activities that can help your students practice self control.
First though, it is important to understand that self control has basically three components
- Impulse control – the ability to stop and think before speaking or acting
- Emotional control – the ability to express emotions in healthy and godly ways
- Bodily control – the awareness of where all of one’s body parts are at any one time – particularly in relation to things that can be broken or damaged by uncontrolled movements
While improving any one aspect will improve self control, all three need to be mastered for ideal self control. Fortunately, there are some fun Bible class activities that can help students practice the skills needed for self control.
- Puppetry and drama. Both are great for helping children express emotions. It is also necessary to control one’s body movements for the stories to be told well.
- Arts and crafts. Primarily helpful for practicing bodily control, for some children the necessary sharing and cooperation involved can give practice in the other areas of self control as well.
- Games and scavenger hunts. For children who struggle with emotional and impulse control, participating in team Bible class activities can force them to practice the various aspects of self control.
- Field trips. Perhaps an activity for when self control has improved, the group dynamics of a field trip can provide practice in impulse and emotional control. If you are visiting a museum with priceless artifacts, bodily control will be a must.
- Service projects. Depending upon the project, all three aspects of self control will be needed.
Remember, it is important to give students who are struggling reminders, tips and strategies in order for them to improve and develop better habits. Unguided practice isn’t very helpful. It can also be helpful to discuss self control in the context of Bible stories like Samson and King Saul, who obviously struggled with it. What negative consequences did they suffer because of their lack of self control? What happened in the life of Peter, when he finally improved his self control? Spending time teaching and practicing self control with your Bible students may help them avoid sinning more easily when they are adults. It is worth taking some class time to help them improve.