Cootie in Control

Emily Torgerson, MS, School Counselor, received a 25 dollar gift certificate from for this submission

The “Cootie in Control” game can be used to facilitate development of self-control in young children.  

Objective: Help children understand that they are in control of their behaviors, actions, and reactions. Children will be empowered to stop and think about their actions before they react to a situation.  

Adaptations: This game can also be used with a child who has been abused, either physically or sexually, or to teach safety to children.

Materials Needed: Cootie game

Number of participants: One to Four

Ages: Pre-K through 1st

Procedure for self-control game:

Explain to participants that we are all in control of our behaviors and our actions. Demonstrate how we are each making choices right now, such as where to look, whether or not to listen, what to do with their hands and feet, etc. Discuss how we make many choices each day, and those choices can affect our behaviors and how others feel about us.


Explain the rules of Cootie to children. As each game participant adds a body part to his/her Cootie, talk with the child about the proper way to handle each body part in a variety of situations.

For example: 

“What should Cootie do with his hands (or feet) at school? (Raise his hands when he has a question. Keep his hands/feet to himself. Use walking feet.)

“What should Cootie do with his head at school? (Think before he speaks. Study.)

And so on…

After finishing the Cootie bug, remind children that just as Cootie can choose how to control his body, children can stop and think about how they can control their body too.


This can also be used with a child who has been abused, either physically or sexually, or to teach safety to children. Questions can be adapted as needed.  For example, when teaching safety the questions can be phrased in such a way to encourage children to think about each body part can help keep them safe.

For example: 

-“How can Cootie use his eyes to stay safe at the park?” (Look for strangers. Make sure a trusted adult is within eye sight)

-“How can Cootie’s legs help him if there is a stranger nearby?” (He can run to a safe place)

-“Who has the right to touch Cootie’s body?” (No one, without Cootie’s permission. If Cootie is sick or needs help, a parent, trusted adult, or a doctor can help him)

-“Who can Cootie tell if he feels unsafe?” (A parent, teacher, or trusted adult.)

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