Monday, March 18, 2013

Traffic Lights & Time-Outs

Cava has always been fascinated by traffic lights. At first it was just the colors, especially once he learned to say, "Green, yellow, and red." Then we started playing a game to guess what color the next traffic light would be either to or from school. He loves getting green lights because it means go and because green is his favorite color. Cava gets frustrated when we get red ones and grumbles his complaints for the light to hurry up and change. 

Playing with his toy cars, he will call out the light color so that our cars have to stop, go, or slow down. To this he began to add new color lights and new instructions for what you have to do at that light. First was "blue," which meant your car had to go side to side. Then "white" which meant your car had to go up and down. Then "orange," which meant your car had to drive in circles. A "black" light meant your car had to jump up and down. Who knows what the next color and silly thing our cars will have to do?

Capitalizing on this fascination, one of the new behavioral methods they have started using with Cava at school this week is using the colors green, yellow, and red. "Green" is good. "Yellow" is for "think," as in "think about what you are doing before you move on to "Red," which means he has to go from the classroom to the office for a 10 minute time-out. They have all three colors of paper that they keep on his desk to let him know when he is moving from one color to the next. All of this was explained to him repeatedly before school started and he was asked to repeat exactly what each color meant. 

Today was the first day they began this and it tended to fall onto a "yellow" day. Hey, I'm just thankful it wasn't a "red" one.

Since consistency is key with Cava, we agreed to begin using the color system at home too.

Like Cava, I am fascinated by traffic lights, though mine is mostly likely due to the fact that I used to love watching Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. Two of my favorite things his TV house had were the trolley and the traffic light. And, as a child, I wanted both in my house when I grew up. Sorry to say, I've got neither.

So, despite not being a "craftsy" sort of person, I did get out some construction paper and fashioned ourselves a behavioral traffic light with a paper-clip arrow to point to where Cava was on it. Then I posted it to our refrigerator. 

When I showed it to Cava, he got very excited. As I pointed to each color, I asked him what each color meant. He told me, "Green: good. Yellow: think. Red: time-out." I was proud that he remembered and told him so. 

As I've said before, we try and work with his school so that there is consistency in discipline because that is what Cava desperately needs. He has to know exactly what is expected of him and the consequences of what will happen if he doesn't do what's expected of him. 

Here's hoping we get more green lights than red ones!

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