An impulse is an immediate action in response to a situation. This lesson explores the concept of ‘impulse control’ using the stop-think-respond strategy. This encourages students to think about the situation and control their response. Developing impulse control helps students to understand how and when to apply judgement when reacting to situations.

Year level



60 minutes


In class activity

SEL Competencies


Social awareness

Relationship skills

Learning intention

Students can recognise that being resilient doesn’t mean that we don’t feel impulsive; rather, it means that we learn to control our impulses.

Key outcomes

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • identify many kinds of impulses

  • use a strategy for managing their impulses.

Materials needed

  • Post-it Notes

  • Butcher's paper

  • Coloured pens/textas

Mapped to

Australian Curriculum Health and Physical Education

  • Evaluate emotional responses in different situations to refine strategies for managing emotions (AC9HP10P06)

Australian Curriculum: General Capabilities

  • Personal and Social Capability:

    • Social awareness

    • Social management

    • Self-awareness

    • Self-management

NSW PDHPE Syllabus

  • Examines and evaluates strategies to manage current and future challenges (PD4-1)

  • Demonstrates self-management skills to effectively manage complex situations (PD4-9)

  • Assesses their own and others’ capacity to reflect on and respond positively to challenges (PD5-1)

  • Assesses and applies self-management skills to effectively manage complex situations (PD5-9)

Victorian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education

  • Analyse factors that influence emotions, and develop strategies to demonstrate empathy and sensitivity (VCHPEP128)

  • Evaluate situations and propose appropriate emotional responses and then reflect on possible outcomes of different responses to health and wellbeing (VCHPEP147)

Show details

Activity 1

Activity: What are impulses?

10 minutes

  1. In small groups, students brainstorm on Post-it Notes words they associate with impulse.

  2. Students work together to group their responses into categories, for example causes, feelings and behaviours.

Activity 2

Class discussion: Impulse reactions

15 minutes

  • What are the consequences if we don’t control our impulses?

  • Who do our reactions and responses impact on others?

  • What are some reasons why people react differently in different situations?

Activity 3

Activity: Think–impulse strategy

15 minutes

Ask students to write down the think–impulse strategy:

  1. Stop. Think. (Delay your response.)

  2. Breathe.

  3. Think of three responses. (Don’t say anything until you have thought of them.)

  4. Respond.

Activity 4

Group work: Scenarios

15 minutes

Students draw a table with the following headings:

  • Scenario

  • Response 1

  • Response 2

  • Response 3

  • Chosen response

  • Why?

Using the following scenarios, they fill in the table:

  • At lunch when you line up in the canteen, someone pushes in front of you.

  • The person next to you in an exam keeps tapping their desk.

  • The person you are talking to about something has a different opinion than you.

  • You are online and notice that a friend on Instagram has unfriended you.

  • You have saved $80 towards the cost of a new tablet/iPad/laptop, but a pair of shoes you love costs exactly that.

Activity 5

Discussion: Debrief

5 minutes

  • Did everyone in your group agree on the best response?

  • How did your group work together?


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