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5 minutes


Primary / Junior / Intermediate


Poster of a traffic light (optional)


To help develop problem-solving skills

Introduce the concept of traffic lights and how this can help develop problem-solving skills.  Walk the students through the process of the “Stop, think, go” practice.

  • Red = Stop!
    • What is the problem?
  • Yellow = Think!
    • Slow down!
    • Brainstorm possible solutions.
    • Think about what might happen for each of your possible solutions.
  • Green = Go!
    • Try out your solution.

Post the visual as a class reminder and make use of the practice as often as opportunity arises.

  • Before accessing critical and creative thinking skills, it is important to develop self-regulation and calming skills in order to increase the former’s effectiveness.
  • Consider adding a breathing prompt at the red light (i.e., Red = Stop! = Breath!) before determining what the problem is.

Self-control and managing impulsivity are skills children develop gradually throughout their childhood and even small improvements in these skills have the potential for large impacts long term for both the student and society as a whole. Diamond & Lee (2011) identify that children, ages 3 to 11, with strong self-control, less impulsivity, and better attention tend to have better health, earn more, and commit less crimes than those who lack these skills.

However, Ruiz (2014) found that young children exposed to trauma may be described by their teachers as disruptive and inattentive which may be mistaken as hyperactive. Educators must strive to be sensitive to the root factors which could be a response to an environmental stress [such as systemic racism and structural oppression].

Diamond, A., & Lee, K. (2011). Interventions shown to aid executive function development in children 4 to 12 years old. Science, 333(6045), 959-964.

Ruiz, R. (2014, July 7). How Childhood Trauma Could Be Mistaken for ADHD. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/07/how-childhood-trauma-could-be-mistaken-for-adhd/373328/