Teachers and parents can use a simple strategy — called the stoplight system — to put the brakes on bad behavior in children with attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD).
The system uses the graphic of a stoplight and a clothespin bearing a child’s name to indicate when he is behaving well or having difficulty.
The system works well in the classroom as well as at home to reinforce household rules. The use of explicit guidelines, rewards, and consequences is particularly helpful for children with ADHD. Here’s how to get started.
The teacher and students work together to establish the class rules and expectations. Write them on poster board and hang it prominently near the classroom door.
At home, post household chores and rules on the refrigerator or on the bathroom door.
Each student receives two bottle caps at the beginning of the week. More can be earned by positive behavior, such as lining up quietly or helping others.
At the end of the week, the caps are traded in for rewards — stickers, school supplies, books, a small toy, or a special lunch with a friend.
If a student breaks a class rule or doesn’t do a chore at home, the clothespin bearing his name is moved from the green light to the yellow light. He loses three bottle caps and is denied a classroom or extracurricular privilege.
A second infraction takes his clothespin to the red light, and costs five bottle caps and two privileges. If there’s a third infraction, he owes 10 bottle caps, forfeits all privileges for the day. If the infraction happens at school, the teacher calls his parents.
TIP To build leeway into the stoplight system, a teacher or parent should warn a child before moving his clothespin. If a child’s behavior improves allow him to move back to green from yellow. That way, a child gets to make a fresh start from the green light.