Social Skills and Self Regulation through Stop-Think-Do

Traffic lights are placed at road intersections and crossings to control the movement of traffic. Besides telling drivers and pedestrians what to do, they can be useful in developing self control and social skills. 

Some children get stuck at various points - shy children often think too much about what could happen and find it difficult to select a course of action. Some children can be rash - they act without thinking. 

Self discipline and self control are outcomes of practicing the STOP-THINK-DO loop. This also leads to greater self esteem and confidence during interactions with others.

When we get children to stop and think, we are asking them to stop what they are doing or intending to do and calm themselves down. They will then be able to act rationally (do).

Simply cut out three circles (red, yellow and green) and write down the corresponding action words on each circle to provide a visual cue for the associated questions below and use them for the following activities to practise the STOP-THINK-DO loop.



What is the problem? 

How do I feel?

How do others feel?

What do I want to happen?


What are the consequences?

What can I do?

- Tell an adult

- ask nicely, share, ignore


Put the best solution into action. 

If it does not work, go back to STOP and start again.


Activity Suggestions

What you need

Traffic light cards

1) Roleplay

Develop a list of problem situations that children may encounter or have encountered before - examples: Someone taking a toy from you or encountering a challenging math problem and act out a selected problem. Model the thinking process using by showing the red circle (STOP) first and say out loud, "What is the problem here? I think I feel..." then show the yellow circle (THINK) and say out loud, "What can I do? I can ....  or .... " and weigh the consequences of each solution out loud. Then show the green circle (GO)  and say out loud, " I will .... (selected action)."

2) Puppet show

Get your child to act out a scenario using his/her soft toys or puppets. Let then practise how they would show how they would stop and think about the situation to decide what to do next.

3) Create a comic book

For children who like to draw, get them to draw the problem and how the character would stop and think of the solution. They can then share their creation with you. Compile the difference scenarios into a book that you can reference whenever a similar scenario comes up.