Impulse control and listening are important skills for kids that are utilized in many daily occupations such as transitioning away from preferred activities, daily routines, and school. Frequent practice using games helps strengthen these skills so that they can generalize to other activities. Listed below are some fun games with little to no equipment needs!
Impulse Control Games for Daily Practice
Red Light, Green Light – The classic traffic light game where you move forward when someone says green light and immediately stop when someone says red light.
- Simon Says – Explain the rules on only following commands if the word “Simon” is mentioned. Initially give additional cues to support their identification of this (such as “listen hard” or tapping ears) prior to giving an instruction without the “Simon” command. This activity can be graded up to do what “Simon Says” while you perform a different action with your body and they have to selectively follow the verbal instruction only (“Simon says touch your toes” as you touch your nose) or reciprocally “Simon Does” where they mirror your body as you say a differing verbal instruction (“Simon says touch your toes” as you touch your nose)
- Hide & Seek – Sometimes the best thing to do is stick with classic games like hide and seek to work on impulse control. Have you seen how hard it is for kids to stay quiet while hiding? It requires lots of self control.
- Ready, Set, Go – Tell the child that when they hear the word “Go,” they should run to a designated location. Tempt their impulses by substituting “Go” with other G-words like “grow,” “gotcha,” “grin,” etc. Say the phrase “Ready….Set….G…..” slowly before completing the phrase with your chosen G-word.
- Freeze Dance – Play music in an open space. Instruct the child to dance while the music plays, and when the music stops, to freeze! If you want to add a layer of difficulty, when the child freezes, have them strike a yoga pose.
- Popping Bubbles – Have the child stand on a designated visual marker (tape, hula hoop, etc). Blow bubbles and instruct them that they can’t pop them for a certain amount of time (start low and work your way up). This activity can also be used to bring attention to that feeling in our bodies when we want to pop the bubble and how that feeling goes away even if we don’t pop the bubble.
- Freeze Tag
- Clap Pattern – Have the child listen to you do a clap pattern with various timing (clap, clap, *pause*, clap) and wait until you point to them to repeat it back to you. Start with 2-3 clap patterns at a time and build up as they accurately repeat the pattern back to you.
- Turn Taking – Generally any activity where the child has to wait prior to acting on desired actions.