- “Ohhh…how do we sit on the chair?”
- “Hmmm…what is the rule when using the tablet?”
- “Yeah, that’s frustrating. What are you going to do?”
The above examples how to phrase yellow light communication so that it sounds as if you are sending the powerful message of “You can figure this out.” Notice that each of the phrases could have a slightly drawn out pace and a sing-song tone. These are also considered “strategic questions” – purposeful ways of stating a question so that it engages motivation. These types of techniques help reduce the possibility of a perceived threat that would start a fight, flight, or freeze response. But neither is it a simple matter of figuring out the obvious action in the situation. Yellow light emphasizes the “slow down” process so that children can focus on problem solving.
As a parent, you can role model this process by verbalizing your yellow light. When approaching a task, list three possible options to completing the task. Then, list the consequence of that option. Finally, discuss the decision you would make on the best-fit consequence. Over and over, children can be exposed to cause-and-effect, weighing of consequences, accurate perception of time, moral development, empathy, reasoning skills and more! Those “what if” scenarios help children internalize important life lessons.
Using the yellow light means a person is purposefully checking what is happening in his or her thoughts. The person is checking the facts and challenging him or herself for accurate perceptions and helpful conclusions. The person becomes aware of his or her feelings – like a thermometer reading, a person checks the intensity and determines whether he or she can cope. Yellow light also signals a review of the menu of actions that could accompany the thinking and feeling. These all work together and slowing down helps ensure that the person is completely reviewing all options.
Red lights are quick, “Stop!” Green lights are quick, “Go!” Yellow lights tell us, “Slow: proceed with caution.” All three are important for the development of happy, healthy and safe children.