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Hi there!

Recently, on my Facebook page, I shared a little cartoon about the importance of positive reinforcement.

I am all for rewarding children for their good behaviours rather than focusing on the negative ones. However, I am only human, and occasionally certain children (usually the more quiet and reserved ones) tend to get less praise as I am spending more time disciplining the ones that are more demanding of my attention!

My previous school used a behaviour system as a whole school approach – consistent within each Prep to 2 Grade. Although I have recently changed schools, I have continued with this system as I have found it works wonders throughout the junior levels.

It is the ‘Ticks and Traffic Lights’ system! It focuses on catching children doing ‘good’ things and rewarding them instantly with a ‘tick’. Children in my grade will always hear me saying ‘Oh I love the way name is using whole body listening! You can have a tick!’ (meanwhile I am just about ready to lose it with the boy at the front who is wriggling around and causing havoc on the mat!!!!) Sure enough though, the restless boy will then sit up beautifully in hope of also receiving a tick. This is also known as ‘hinting’ (focussing on the desired behaviour to correct the negative behaviour of others).

It looks a little like this…. (I have made them in the past but recently decided to buy a pocket chart as they usually get a bit ratty by the end of the year and I was sick of making new ones)

So, what does this tick mean exactly??? Well, at the end of the day, the ticks are tallied up and those who have received 3 ticks will be rewarded with a sticker at home time. Those who have totalled 4 for the day will receive a reward of their choice. This could be tangible like something from the treasure box like bubbles, toy cars, goodies that I have collected over the years, pens, pencils, rubbers etc.

OR could involve other rewards such as sitting on the teachers chair for the day, having an extra 10 mins play, using the textas, sitting in the library corner – this can be catered to your grade. You can make up some little reward cards – brainstormed by your class so that you know it is meaningful to them.

Now to the traffic lights….. Well, the traffic lights are given out for extreme behaviours. In my class, children very rarely receive a traffic light, so IF they do happen to get one, it is meaningful and they realise the severity of what they have done. I have found this has more impact on the child rather than handing out traffic lights willy nilly. I usually hand them out for things like hitting another child on purpose, lying (I really cant stand it when the children lie) or severe disruptive behaviour.

The first traffic light is green and is a warning. Second traffic light is yellow/orange and is a second warning. Third is a red and means time out, fourth is double red and means sent out of the room – either to a principals office or another class for the session.

Every day, the ticks and traffic lights chart is emptied and it is a symbol of a fresh start. No need to worry about the previous day and hold on to the past – it’s a new day and a chance to receive 4 ticks!! :)

My children REALLY love this reward system and so many parents have commented, telling me they too are using it at home with their child.

I would LOVE to hear some feedback on this system, if you have tried it or if you have any questions – please leave some comments – I’d be happy to help! I hope this works for you just as it has for me :)

4 replies to Positive Reinforcement – Ticks and Traffic Lights System

  1. This is perfect because it combines positive reinforcement as well as poor choice consequences!!! Can't wait to try it in my class with my Kinders!!!! Thanks for sharing :)

  2. If someone recieved say two ticks earlier in the day but then hit another student on purpose and got a traffic light and then again later got another tick do they still get the reward at the end of the day. My students have a big problem with students they see as people who make bad choices getting rewarded.
    Sheri :)

  3. Hi Sheri, Good question!
    I guess it really would be up to your discretion as to whether they deserve the reward or not. This has happened to me and because it was out of the child's character to receive a traffic light, I still allowed them to receive their sticker at the end of the day.
    I guess you could discuss it with your class and come up with a class decision as to what they believe is fair? You would have to stick to that then and not bend the rules for some students and not for others.

    At the end of the day, you are trying to catch the students behaving in a positive way and that behaviour is rewarded. By receiving a traffic light, the child who hit the other student has already received his/her consequence so I guess you can move on to focus on the positives for the remainder of the day. :)

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