The traffic light of anger to manage emotions

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Robert Maurer

The traffic light of anger to manage emotions

The traffic light of anger is a tool that uses the principle of the traditional traffic light to teach the child to manage their emotions through colors.

Last update: Augusts 11, 2019

The traffic light of anger is a tool to help children, usually between 4 and 10 years old, to manage their emotions. At this age, you are already able to recognize basic emotions, but you have difficulty managing them correctly. This psychological technique consists in applying the principle of the traditional traffic light to teach the child to manage his emotions, especially the negative ones.

It should be emphasized that children are perfectly familiar with the functioning of the traffic light and its colors. The red indicates that you cannot pass and that you have to stop, the yellow indicates that you have to wait and the green that you can pass.

If we transfer the colors of the traffic lights and what they represent to a fit of anger or a whim, children will learn to manage their emotions in the form of play.

How can the child relate the traffic light to the responses to his emotions? He must associate the colors of the traffic light with his emotions and his own behavior. In the next few lines, we explain what the function of each color is and what the answer is.

"Self-awareness means deeply understanding the emotions, strengths, weaknesses, needs and impulses present in oneself."

-Daniel Goleman-

Emotional self-regulation

Why is it so important for children to learn to self-regulate their emotions? Some experts emphasize the need to teach children to manage emotions through knowledge of themselves, their emotional states and reactions to them. Likewise, they must learn that their reactions can vary according to mood, in order to choose the appropriate reaction in each situation.

Similarly, a team from the department of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University in the United States emphasizes the importance of self-control and emotional self-regulation in the evolutionary development of the human being. According to the statistics present in the study, in fact, the lack of this ability can generate health problems in the future life of the person.

It is therefore essential to teach children to self-regulate and manage their emotions and responses to them. In this sense, the use of the traffic light technique it is of great help.

The colors of the traffic light of anger


STOP, calm down. When we can't control an emotion, especially anger and rage, we have to stop just like we would stop at a traffic light when the red light comes on. When anger overwhelms us, it means that it is time to stop and reflect on what is happening.


THINK, reflect on the problem and what you are feeling. "How do I feel right now?", "Am I angry?", "Am I sad?" Subsequently, the child is invited to reflect on the possible alternatives of response and the consequences in the face of this situation. What is the best answer for me, what is the solution that offers me the most benefits?

The green color in the traffic light of anger

ACT, solve the problem. After analyzing the possible responses to an emotion, you will have to choose the response option that best suits you and put it into action to resolve the current situation.

To increase the child's positive response, it is important to reinforce any positive behavior, following the dictates of Skinner's theory of reinforcement in learning. Positive reinforcement allows the child to feel that his or her effort is appreciated and taken into account, and this encourages him to persevere in such patterns of behavior.

As explained in this article, it is essential that the education of children takes into account the self-regulation of emotions and their way of managing the most problematic emotional states such as anger, fear and frustration. Given the importance of acquiring this ability, we find in the traffic light of anger a simple, useful and practical tool to encourage children to better manage their emotions.

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