Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Traffic Lights – a child’s perspective


Wednesday 04 January 2017

‘I feel a bit sad today,’ said my five-year-old daughter when I collected her. ‘Did anything happen to make you feel sad?’ I asked. She had just started primary school and it was a few weeks into the term. She described a behaviour management strategy in place in her classroom, ‘It’s the traffic lights, when you are ‘good’ you stay on green, but if you are being a bit silly you go to orange - that’s your warning. If you still don’t listen you go to red. Red is really bad.’

Traffic light behaviour image - Traffic Lights – a child’s perspective

‘What happens when you go to red?’ I asked.

‘You have to sit on the step at break time. Today Sam was on red and she had to sit on the step. She’s on red a lot, and on the step all the time. How can Sam make friends if she’s always on the step? She can’t play or make friends, she needs friends to help her.’

Sometimes the greatest learning moments come from children’s own observations. All too often young children are dismissed when they struggle to regulate their behaviour. The emphasis is placed on the child to conform and adapt to the environment. However, as adults the responsibility is on us to tune in and adapt our spaces and interactions to support the diverse behavioural needs of all children. Particularly children that are struggling to adapt and transition into new learning spaces. The emphasis should be on understanding the reason or reasons for the challenging behaviour.

Traffic Lights – a child’s perspective

Sam sat on the step alone and watched all the other children play. While the children released their pent up energy from a morning of indoor concentration, Sam sat. While teachers supervised and engaged with other children, Sam sat. While children continued to build friendships, Sam sat. As she sat a little five-year-old watched her and felt sad. She wanted to help, but didn’t know how.


How can a child make friends if they are excluded from play with their peers? How does excluding a child impact on their self-esteem?


Further Reading:
Louise Porter: Young children’s behaviour: Guidance approaches for early childhood educators
2016, 4th edition, Allen and Unwin, Sydney

1 comments Comments

One Response

  1. Ann Keating O'Neill says:

    A system like this in a Primary school will do endless hard to any child’s self esteem, emotional well being, confidence, it is damaging in every way possible. 🙁

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

imotion(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Sessional service(1) Laughter(1) Margy Whalley(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Budget 2018(1) Plants(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Siolta blog(8) Cognitive development(1) early years learning(1) Oireachtas(1) relationships(17) story time(2) PIP(1) Learning Stories(9) Growing up in Ireland(3) food(1) family time(1) Certificate(1) ECCE(7) research(6) Department of Education and Skills(1) Santa(2) early years research(2) outdoors(3) Arlene Forster(1) Feeding(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Horizon 2020(1) United Nations(1) behavioural science(1) ReCreate(2) Annual Conference 2017(2) supportive environments(2) code of professional responsibility(1) books(4) First 5 strategy(1) Sequins(1) Time Out(1) Flowers(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Interaction(1) christmas(9) Home Corner(1) Child mental health(1) Super Shed Stories(2) Nonverbal(1) Maria Montessori(1) Twitter(1) Kids Own(1) Dance(1) Traffic Lights(1) linc(1) Wonder(1) Line-ups(1) research submissions(1) Awards 2019(1) Leprechauns(1) Summer(1) Book Club(2) ECEC Setting(2) National Childcare Scheme(1) Trade Unions(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Maternity Leave(1) Engineering(3) Reggio Emilia(1) play(34) healthy eating policies(1) Iraq(1) Stress(2) risk assessment(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Learning Story(1) Mayo(1) eating(1) mushrooms(1) learning(19) Technology(3) Employee(1) Kilkenny(1) Art(6) Routines(2) Early Years Educators(3) Plastic(1) Adoption(1) Cork(1) Patterns(1) dining(1) Snacks(1) dining experiences(1) Academic Skills(1) Covid pandemic(1) Touch(1) Thinking(1) Learning Story Awards(2) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Syria(1) risk(2) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Visual Impairment(1) outdoor play(6) Inter-generational learning(2) SPICE Framework(1) Mount Everest(1) Meet the Members(1) Mental Health(3) Mixed age groups(2) COVID-19(4) Online(1) Hand Hygiene(1) Exploring(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Inclusion(3) Favouritism(1) Graduation(1) Learning Journal(2) Environment(2) Participation(2) Vietnam(1) Socioemotional development(1) Mealtimes(1) Magic(1) Book Review(1) Traditions(2) Celebrate(1) Xbox(1) Frustrations(1) Behaviour(3) art of the relationship(1) grandchild(1) Malaguzzi(1) Sleep(1) collaboration(1) Kerry(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Performance Management(1) E.coli(1) curriculum(5) Maths Week Ireland(1) School Age Childcare(1) Pobal sector profile(1) aistear blog(3) Learning journals(1) toddlers(3) College(1) conference(1) Supernanny(1) Health(2) Academics(1) social media(1) Budget 2019(2) Decisions(1) development(8) TRAP(1) Research Seminar(1) Arithmetic(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) blog(29) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Glitter(2) Playschool(1) Intention(1) Interactions(2) NCCA(3) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Exclusion(1) National Holiday(1) gender stereotype(1) Music(3) risky play(2) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) Early Years(1) Family wall(1) Challenges(1) ICBN(1) Shapes(1) Obesity(1) Infectious diseases(1) continual professional development(1) Drawing(2) UN(1) Funding(1) Identity(5) Human Resources(1) parents(6) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) CPD(1) educating(1) Diversity(1) Child Care(1) Children's Voice(1) movement behaviours(1) Our Little Seed(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) Change(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) DES Inspection(1) Window(1) Prexit(1) Love(2) animals(2) Leadership(1) learners(1) Opportunities(1) Recycle(1) EM Standing(1) Confidence(1) Treasure(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Snakes(1) Self-regulation(1) Sweets(1) Workplace Relations(3) experience(1) interacting(2) Motor neuron disease(1) Mud kitchens(1) Document Learning(1) Community involvement(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Engineers Week(2) Irish(1) play therapy(1) value(1) life long learning(1) Wrapping paper(1) Leargas(1) Building Resilience(1) Maynooth University(2) Cork Institute of Technology(1) show and tell(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Reading Time(1) Little Buddies(1) CCTV(1) Sport(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) Running(1) memories(1) emotions(2) Snack Time(1) Care-giving routines(1) Pen green(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Síolta(111) Primary School(2) keezy(1) Jenga(1) Fabric(1) Imagination(3) Spiders(1) emotional environment(2) Professionalisation(5) AIM(2) Study Trip(1) Performing(1) Magnavacchi(1) worries(1) purpose(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Independence(1) Mathematicians(1) Death(2) Síolta QAP(1) learning bias(1) science week(2) conversations(1) Positivity(1) Covid19 crisis(1) Shoes(1) childcare services(1) keep in touch(1) Time(1) Blocks(1) San Miniato(4) INTO(1) Competent(1) transitions(10) Light table(1) Culture(2) feisty(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) friendships(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Youtube Series(1) iOS(1) TOY Programme(1) educarer(1) Biting(1) curiosity(3) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Ceremony(1) Yoga(1) education(2) Together Old and Young Programme(1) play stories(2) Lego(2) early childhood educator(2) Arts(1) planning(1) pets(1) youdoodle(1) University(1) bloom app(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Relaxation(1) Exercise(1) Bereavement(2) Montessori(3) Budget 2020(1) Wilenski(1) New Appointments(1) Mark Twain(1) Quality(4) Trick or treat(1) NAEYC(1) First 5(1) Workplace well-being(1) Digital(1) Gratitude(1) staying connected(1) Consent(1) Fantasy play(1) routine(2) Builders(1) Decision Making(1) code of ethics(1) Well-Being(9) early life(1) reading(5) Exit interview(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) overhear(1) Trigonometry(1) European Project(1) scéalta(32) Sculptures(1) Eritrea(1) Japan(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Maths(5) Vertical grouping(1) trust(4) respect(5) Brain(1) Fee Play(1) Body Language(1) IGL(1) Settling in(4) Titles(1) Iceland(1) Awards 2018(3) Qualifications(1) Administrative Burden(1) structure(1) EECERA 2016(1) baby room(1) HR(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Capable(1) ECEC(2) Childhood(1) Reflective Practice(1) primary education(1) babies(7) Deirdre Rogers(1) Storytelling(6) Playdough(1) Painting(1) Weather(1) Afghanistan(1) budget(1) National Awards 2019(1) gender bias(1) Graduate(1) Sustainability(3) Elders(1) Event Guide(1) Mantra(1) Affordability(1) Early Learning and Care(1) The Jelly King(1) Teamwork(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) ERASMUS+(3) Children(4) Upcycling(1) Queues(1) Support(1) Autism(4) Buddy Bench(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Awards(2) Party(1) Anxiety(2) annual conference(1) Childcare(3) National Pyjama Day(1) dogs(1) Awards Night(1) Treasure Chest(1) Early Childhood Ireland(1) Reggio(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Maths Week(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) AsIAm(2) Children and families(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) Giraffe(2) Engineering Ireland(1) stories(3) Workforce(1) Potential(1) Masterclass(2) Orla Kenny(1) Visitors(1) ears(1) Halloween(2) Degree(1) MA(1) Impact(1) listening(1) RTE Investigates(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) outdoor space(3) Research and Professional Learning(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Investment(2) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Communicating(1) Children's Research Network(1) community(5) Rituals(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Penguins(1) Scéalta Blog(98) Nutrition(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Educators(2) Inspections(1) Breathing(2) Mo Scéal(1) Grief(1) Role play(1) Aistear(118) Inspirational(2) Map(1) refugees(1) Interests(1) Communications(1) Digital Devices(1) Advocacy(1) preschool(4) Staff Motivation(1) Infection Control(1) role playing(1) UNCRC(2) Recycling(2) Smiles(1) Thanks(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Valentine's Day(3) Belonging(3) child-centred approach(1) Whole Group(1) dublin(2) Sustainable(1) Children's Rights(3) Appreciation(1) Trade union(1) Names(1) GDPR(1) Confident(1) Limerick(1) Magda Gerber(1) Engagement(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Pobal(1) Craft(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) listen(1) awards 2020(1) Through the looking glass(1) social science(1) Games(1) Mindfulness(2) Winter(1) Wesco(1) Training(2) National Awards 2018(2) Thank you(1) Meal time(1) Empathy(1) Self-Esteem(1) DCYA(4) science(3) communication(4) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) Rich Documentation(1) Easter(1) journey(1) pablo(1) Wendy Lee(3) Reggio Children Network(1) Laugh(1) under 3's(3) Creative(1) Creativity(4) Social Skills(1) apps for children(1) Self Help Skills(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) meals(3) Buddies(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Aldo Fortunati(4) The Lullaby Book(1) maternity health(1) UD(1) Celebrations(4) Universal Design(2) Seas Suas(1) Family(1) CIT(1) bonds(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) phone apps(1) Care routines(1) Albert Einstein(1) man up(1) Identity and Belonging(4) STEM(3) Facebook(1) Loss(1) Story(1) RIE philosphy(1) environments(1) GoToMeeting app(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Inter-generational(2) Maynooth(1) preschool settings(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Italy(1) Photographs(1) Policy(2) children development(1) developing motor skills(1) Design(1) Norway(2) Gardening(1) MECPI(1) Pre-School Services(1) Scents(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) documentation(4) Annual Conference 2019(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine