Leadership Lesson: Self-Control


  • Students will learn what self-control is and about studies done around it.
  • Students will practice self-control.


1. Opening:

  • Welcome students and introduce yourself.
  • Tell students today we are going to learn about self-control.
  • Have students take out a sheet of paper and write down what they think self-control means.
  • After one minute have students share their definitions with a partner.
  • Call on a few students to share what they wrote down.
  • Now model what self-control might look like. You can have your phone on a desk and act like you want to look at it but don’t. You can stop yourself from throwing a pencil, etc..
  • Now share a time in your own life where you had to exercise self-control.
  • Have students write down on their sheet of paper a time when they exercised self-control.
  • After 2-3 minutes have students share with a neighbor, then call on a few students to share with the class.

2. Activity:

  • Have students find a partner to read the article from The New Yorker, Don’t! The Secret of Self-Control. Have them stop reading at the end of the second page.
  • Instruct that each partner will read a paragraph and the other partner will highlight or underline the most important parts of the paragraph. The will switch off at each paragraph. Challenge them to highlight no more than six words at a time.
  • This should take 15-20 minutes. Stop them to check-in and see that they are done. Remind them to stop at the end of the second page.
  • When they are finished, have them raise their hand. Go around and place a piece of candy on each student’s desk and let them know, if it is still there by the end of class, they will get a second piece.
  • After they raise their hand and the candy is placed on their desk, have the pairs write down what they believe are the three most important ideas from the reading.
  • Have the pair find another pair and share their thoughts. 
  • After they have shared with another pair, ask for volunteers to share their thoughts

4. Discussion:

  • Now as a class read the third page of the article they read earlier from The New Yorker, Don’t! The Secret of Self-Control.
  • Ask students “What is an area in your life you find you could use more self-control?” Share with the students the area you could also work on to improve self-control i.e. eating junk food, putting cell phone away, etc..
  • Ask them to share ways they could improve self-control in the classroom, at home, or with their friends or family.
  • Ask them to think and share about how exercising self-control can improve relationships.