Self-control: Fruits of the Spirit
Think before you act
by Manon Ceridwen James
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To explore self-control as a fruit of the spirit.
Preparation and materials
- Think through a scenario where self-control would be needed in the life of a school in order to prepare a group of three or four children for a short role play. The suggestion given below is that a group of children bump into another child by mistake. First of all it is acted out with the child getting angry and wanting to hit back and then it is acted out a second time, but this time with the child accepting it was a mistake and showing self-control.
- Explain to the children that you are going to think about the word ‘self-control’. Link it to the previous assemblies on the fruits of the spirit, if you have used them.
- Discuss what ‘self-control’ means. Do they have any ideas?
Explore with the children how they have to think before reacting because sometimes what they want to do is not the right thing to do. Have their teachers or parents ever asked them to count to ten before responding to what someone else has done or said?
That is because it is important to think before we react. Just taking ten seconds can help us think about how we are feeling and thinking, calm ourselves, if necessary, then we can control how we respond.
- Talk about how you yourself also have to exercise self-control. For example, you could say that you try not to buy too many chocolates and crisps because you have little self-control around them – if you know you have a chocolate bar in the house, you find it very difficult to resist eating it!
- Having self-control is important, for ourselves and for other people. Explain that, if you gave in every time you wanted a chocolate bar, then you wouldn’t have any money and it wouldn’t be very good for your health either.
- Likewise, exercising self-control in our families and in the school is really important, so that everyone is kept happy and safe.
- Ask your three or four actors to perform their little role play about self-control. Two or three of them act out rushing into school and (lightly!) bumping into the remaining child accidentally on their way in. The child bumped into first acts reacting angrily and aggressively to the incident (by shaking his or her fist or bouncing like a boxer preparing to hit back but not actually doing so). Then pause the role play.
- Explore how the child has shown a lack of self-control, which could make things worse. It was a genuine mistake, but if the child continues to react so angrily that he or she hits back, it could end up in a fight.
- Discuss with the children what the right response is, then ask your actors to perform the role play again. The children rush in and bump into the child again. This time, though, they apologize profusely and the child who was bumped into says, ‘It’s fine.’ They carry on into school.
Time for reflection
Think about a time when you had a choice as to how to react when someone did something to you that you didn’t like.
What happened? What would you do differently now?
Help us to show self-control in our own lives and in the life of our school.
Help us to think before we act.
‘Spirit of God, as strong as the wind’ (Come and Praise, 63)