About R/G Choices
Teacher Talk: I Use R/G
Daily Sheets Home
Small Group Samples
R/G IEP Goals
To The Bus!
The Fire "Yell"
High School Materials
Green (2003) © "Red and Green
Verbal & Physical Outbursts...
Bob is extremely afraid of fire drills. He overreacts due to his fear.
It's the beginning of the school year and of course, fire drill
season. He becomes obsessed with this fear. He is indulged with this
thought all day long - it disrupts his entire day. If it is an
afternoon drill, he is in total distress all day long, walking about
the school with fear written on his face. He often cries because he
cannot get away from the situation. He may jump up from his seat and
yell "no" as soon as he becomes aware of a fire drill. Sometimes he
yells and lies on the floor while kicking his feet. Adults don't know
what he thinks will happen, because he will scream in terror when you
mention it. Then he fears this situation everyday, not believing that
there will not be a fire drill everyday of school.
What is the problem?
What is the 'red' target behavior for reduction?
|FIRST: Begin a
trustworthy behavioral relationship, based upon the theory of "behavioral trust"
Tell the student as much truth as you can, as you are supporting their
feelings and allowing them to feel safe and secure. You must remain
calm, consistent and firm throughout the entire behavior change
process and be available for assistance and training of appropriate
green choices. Be sure to meet the calming, desired earned choice
activities or green consequences of the student.
Yes, the bell is going to ring.
Yes, I will help you get through it.
I will show you what to do.
I will show you the red way to deal with it, and the green way to deal
We will practice the green way often.
I know you will still choose red sometimes, but we will get through
Each time the situation arises, we will get better and better at
dealing with it the green way.
This will in turn make you happy, our classroom happy, your mom happy,
and me happy.
It will be worth it in the end.
If you begin the situation
with non-positive behavioral therapies, displaying agitated,
inconsistent and unstable (with overreacting) behaviors through any
child-seemingly chaotic and disruptive situations - throughout any
part of the behavior change process, the student will begin to develop
a "behavioral mistrust" relationship with you.
(Think about children afraid of doctors and nurses, or anybody wearing
a white jacket from a very young age. They are associated with a
non-trustworthy relationship. Do you want to be that person?)
is defined on page 31 of "A Positive Behavioral Development
Create your own positive mind-set. Think about what you are extremely
afraid of. What if you couldn't swim, and are very fearful of the
water then somebody told you that you are going to be thrown into the
5 ft. deep pool today. Would you have a mental meltdown? Would this
information ruin your day and obsess all of your thoughts?
-- Bring it to terms
based on adult situations. Try to understand the student's point of
Adult Fears: And Somebody Tells You...
Spiders - Today there will be 10 spiders crawling around your house.
You must stay inside at all times. But you'll be fine. They won't hurt you.
You might not see or hear them, but you'll know they're there.
Elevators - Today we'll be going on the elevator. But don't worry,
people do it all the time.
Skydiving - Today everybody will be jumping from an airplane at 1:30.
It's going to happen, and you're going to do it like everybody else.
Bees - Today there will be 20 bees outside your screen door. But they
can't get inside. You will be able to hear them buzzing all day long.
You'll be fine.
Heights - Today you'll be standing on the edge of a 20 story building.
You'll have on a safety harness, so no harm will come to you.
Everybody is going to do it.
How would you feel? You might not think certain things are 'that'' feared, but they
Is the end product (remaining calm during fire drills) worth your
intervention efforts? It will be a difficult behavior to change.
Think about adult situations. How would you begin to trust somebody
who's trying to help you do something "ordinary"?
THEN: Think of This Situation's Exact Red
and Green Choices - and Decide How to Introduce It
Think it through first. Brainstorm green solutions. Be ready to
negotiate and adapt your approach as needed. Predict what will most
likely happen based on your prior knowledge of the student's previous
reactions and behavioral choices.
The student first needs to learn Red and Green Choices self-calming
techniques, before there is a specific red consequence. The green
behavior needs to be learned, before it's a displayed choice behavior.
Notice the first chart has no earned choice item, just
red reactions to the child-feared fire bell stimulus. The computer and
headphones are being used to help the student remain calm and
to also eliminate a severe outburst that could last for an hour.
Decide what you will use. Find a balance. Is it worth it to stop an
academic task or be removed from the large group environment for 20
minutes in order to avoid a one-hour meltdown? Meltdowns or outbursts
effect many people besides the student involved; other students, other
adults, other classrooms, parents and so on.
Reinforce the small sequential green steps first. Begin giving green
meaning by pairing your primary stimulus (reactions/encouragement)
with the secondary stimulus (red and green) to promote red and green
meaning. "Pairing of any reaction, chart marking and activities
with red and green is at first necessary to encourage understanding of
Red and Green Choices, and adult expectations." (page 17)
Drawings would most likely be preferred at first as a quick reference
guide, with words later. This reduces stimuli, because we can
predict the student will react the red way, with a verbal or physical
outburst. Keep it as simple as possible to avoid overload.
Ideas to Help You Start Your Own Techniques:
A. Sequential steps...
You could announce the fire drill in the morning. Give the
student red and green behavioral choices. He should go to the resource
room with the designated adult, put on the headphones, sit at the
computer (high response calming student preferred item), wait for the
bell to ring, then walk outside with the designated adult. If a
student prefers books, then draw that instead of the computer. Use a
high response item. What item does the student prefer?
B. Positive-practice overcorrection...
students... draw or use pictures of red school choices.
Schedule a regular time, every morning upon school arrival is
suggested... It may be easier to explain concepts by drawing
stick people inside squares acting out Red and Green Choices... make
it a student directed sorting activity. Add your own inventive sorting
techniques like red an green baskets, red and green folders or
This strategy promotes positive green interactions
with adults, and assists the student, when calm, to use green thinking
before doing or making choices." (page 26)
Print the chart to the left then use the cards for sorting. This
should give you a very good idea of the child's behavioral status. Can
the student even stand to do this activity without a meltdown, or can
they do it with ease? Adapt your strategy as you see fit.
Head outdoors a few minutes before the fire drill so the student may
see how the other students react. Bring blank paper and your red and
green markers. Draw how students are reacting. Who's making red
choices, and who's making green choices. Or you could bring the
student's Red and Green Choices chart for him to circle the pictures
of what the other students are doing. If a student is ready to draw
their own Red and Green Choices pictures, then bring paper for him to
draw a picture. If a student is working on graphing, then count the
students displaying particular behaviors.
When beginning the behavior change process outdoors, be sure you can
eventually move the student indoors. Whenever trying different
intervention strategies, think of what could possibly happen. The
student may think it is ok to dart outside by themselves when there is
mention of a fire drill. Use your best judgment.
Remember the child will most likely be modeling your behavior, too.
You remaining calm helps a student to remain calm. You having an
overstressed meltdown promotes the child sensing it and reacting to
it. Other students in the designated area could effect the situation
also. If another student acts fearful of the situation, it may be
modeled. There are many factors to deal with in the classroom,
but each situation can be managed with specific plans and choices.
Sensory Therapies or Calming Techniques...
"Adults may consider integrating sensory therapies for students with
Autism or sensory needs, to redirect behavioral or sensory
concerns by writing out alternative green behaviors." (page 25). A
part of the behavioral trust process, is helping to ensure the child
feels secure and safe.
How does the child calm or self-regulate? Incorporate what the child
already knows, then expand on that with further choices. Allow the
child to engage in their chosen calming activity before and after the
fire drill. Eventually the time needed to calm or regroup should
decrease through fading techniques.
'All green' choices charts help when learning new skills or concepts. Once a
behavior is learned, then introduce red consequences to undesired
"Instead of Red ______, I Should Green _____" to address tolerable
alternative choices to the red behavioral for reduction. The child
obviously does not know how to react to this stimulus. Show him how.
F. Designated Area / Designated Adult...
Where will the behavior occur first? Once the student hears of the
fire drill, an outburst is most likely going to happen, but you can
help decide where it is going to happen.
Wait until the student is in your particular designated area before
you mention the fire drill. Then begin your specific Red and Green
Choices development. This will help assure all adults associated with
the student to be a part of the plan. (Imagine your greatest fear,
asking a random person if it will happen today, and them saying "I
don't know". How would you feel? Would you rather hear it from your
best friend or spouse? Then they could help you through it, instead of
some random person.)
Idea: When the student asks the question, have the them go to
the designated area (resource room) to ask the designated adult. That
one adult could be prepared with a picture of the fire bell with it
circled, or with an X over it. It would of course be an X for many
days. You may want to try the "no" response for 10 or so school days.
Provide the student a picture of your response. The student could
carry it in their pocket, or it could be taped to their shirt. Develop
a behavioral trust relationship. Then, that one adult, every time the
student needs to know, would eventually say "Maybe, but probably
not.", or "We'll see." or something to begin fading the exact yes or
no answer. The picture could become a picture of the fire bell with a
question mark next to it. (Allow the student to have a meltdown or
outburst in the resource room, instead of the large group classroom.
You will most likely be 1:1 with the student to provide the above
calming techniques, therapies, and intensive intervention strategies.)
Then after many days of the question mark response, the designated
adult could go with the student to non-designated areas to ask the
question "Is there a fire drill today?" to other adults. They would
reinforce the exact responses. Do that for many days. Then the student
will eventually be able to ask their homeroom teacher and other adults
if there will be a fire drill, without the presence of the designated
adult. The student learned that there may be different responses,
while also learning how to respond to this fearful stimulus with the
trust of the designated adult. This is a vigorous fading process, with
each step planned. Think of the end product; is it worth it to go
through the entire process?
My philosophy is that behavioral outbursts should never occur in the
large group environment, and it is my responsibility to intervene
accordingly so the student and other adults understand this. Verbal
and physical outbursts are non-acceptable behaviors that need to be
re-learned. If a student is permitted to display such behaviors in
that environment, they will most likely learn and think that it is
If the student is being pulled from the large group classroom for
interventions, the other adults working with that student may want to
know the plan. If it is in the resource room, then have a plan for the
other students and adult(s). If a student requires prioritized
one-on-one attention for intensive interventions, make Red and Green
Choices for the other students. Should they follow you outside during
the fire drill, or go outside with the aide or someone else?
G. Refer to "A Red and Green Choices 'Behavioral Stand'; A 10
Part Plan to Developing a Specific Individual Approach" (page 37)
Part 10 of the plan is parental communication. You may want to keep
parents informed by sending home charts and lists. Your specific
approach can easily be reviewed nightly with parents, when the demands
of the school environment are not present. "Parental communication
is vital. Parents will most likely continue and reinforce Red and
Green Choices at home." (page 45)
How are you two going to
accomplish the end product - dealing with the fire yell the green way?
Can the parents be a part of the solution? Could they review Red and
Green Choices behavioral expectations with the lists and charts at
Could the school principal help? Should your plan include her knowing
Would you want somebody to
help you get through the pool situation, or just let you suffer
through the entire ordeal?
You're not flipping on a light switch, you're preparing to change a
long-standing behavioral pattern.
"Children must learn it before they do it."
I often mention "mom" for student motivation. How happy will mom
be when you try your best?
Begin "self-prompting" techniques to remind the student,
without the designated adult's presence, of appropriate or desired
green responses and inappropriate or undesired red responses to
support eventual self-management through monitoring one's own
behavior.." (page 19). I often tape small charts upside down on a
student's shirt. It's there and they can see it when they need to
remember their choices. This usually helps to calm students, too.
Once calmness begins to occur, I will often ask the student what they
will do if this situation happens again. Have the student's Red and
Green Choices list or chart ready to look at and talk about.
After the student is beginning to show signs of knowing how to remain
calm when faced with a fear, introduce the student to positive
opposites and their green and red consequence. This should
give the student a reason to try even harder to remain
calm and make
green choices. Motivate
the student to display the green behavior more often. How would it be
worth it to them?
"Find a high student response activity or product. What does the
student like, go to first, or do for an extended periods of time?
Often the computer is a natural
activity." (page 39)
"What does making green choices mean for the student? What will
promote that green behavior next time? What will be earned when green
behaviors are displayed? Why is the student earning green?" (page
"...initial charts explain the adult expectation, often with a
picture or words. Initial "explain" charts or contracts should begin
with the green choice first. The explanation then becomes an immediate
written contract of what must occur the next time." (page 24-25)
"In order to develop positive behaviors in children, adults should
provide three key elements to the Red and Green Choices behavioral
development process. First an adult should give a child undivided
attention to explain Red and Green Choices. Then the explanation
becomes a known adult and child expectation. When the situation arises
again, it becomes the child's choice. The child will choose what to do
with known consequences.. utilizing a high response student item...
1. Explanation - Explain Red and Green Choices
2. Expectation - Adult and Child Know Green Expectation
3. Choice - Child Chosen
Response" (page 47)
"Prompt the student to decide what behavioral response should occur
before a behavioral response occurs. Remind the child of the
consequences of choosing red and green behaviors." (page 48)
Be reasonable when setting
Refer to "Irene's $1,000
Question" to be sure the consequences meet the needs of the
The lists and charts will get more intricate (before fading) as the student learns how
to behaviorally respond to such
stimulus. You can go into more
detail of choices and reactions to
stimuli through conversations, pictures, stories and so on. The
student should be more apt to
handle the situation when it is mentioned - through your support and
behaviorally trustworthy relationship you've been building.
explanations of expected
behaviors should decrease. The student will learn what you expect of
them. "Conditioning red and green eventually leads to minimal adult
language or no adult language. This means that eventually an adult
will only need to provide red an green visual stimulus to elicit or
evoke a positive student response or 'green thinking'. This avoids
overloading stimulus and allows students to monitor their own
behavioral concerns." (page 17)
The chart to the right has changed to distinct choices with the end
product - the student calmly walking out with the group/adult when the
fire bell rings. The student, should by now, know what the
previous red choices were (yelling, lying on the floor). They
probably don't need to be mentioned. Ask the student.. "When the fire
yell rings, you will..?" then hold up your red and green markers.
On the chart, the earned choice item is open to pre-negotiations,
meaning before the behavior occurs. Draw a picture of what the student
prefers to earn for choosing green. The student may even want to try
to draw a picture, or point to what the high response item should be.
Be sure to send the chart home for mom to see what happened at school. Mom is most likely a great motivator to her child, in helping
him make green school choices.
"The high response activity or product must be continually monitored
for effectiveness. Students may lose interest in a particular item, or
they may find a new item or choice." (page 39)
Check the frequency, duration and latency of the outbursts.
Gradually remove the assistance of the designated adult. Allow the
student to independently respond, and create their own lists/charts
Ask the student if he wants help when he doesn't understand or needs
help calming. Once a positive behavioral relationship is established,
I often ask my students if they want a picture/chart. Then, the
students will often initiate Red and Green Choices by asking me to
"draw" and point to my red and green markers. I also leave blank paper
and red and green markers in the classroom for student use. They begin
drawing their own pictures.
(Note: I've learned to only let
students draw pictures for themselves, not their classmates. Other
students may become confused, or are so literal they believe they
'got' red. Regular education students are also directed to only let
adults give red or green. They can confuse my students, too. What I
do, is encourage them to draw a picture for me, or "Niki" or "Cindy
"Eventually the chart marking, verbalizations (directions) and
intensive red and green strategy will fade." (page 28)
independent functioning and adaptation skills by promoting
self-prompting." (page 44)
WILL Be Fun:
Try your best to make sure school remains/becomes a positive
environment. Make your own "behavioral rules of engagement".
"Setting your own (adult) behavioral expectations for both calm and
disruptive times, will prove significant in establishing a behavioral
trust relationship. Children with behavioral concerns, especially
those with Autism or Oppositional Defiant Disorder need the adult
implementing behavioral change strategies to provide understanding,
calmness and assertiveness. Reacting differently during noncompliant
situations usually causes confusion. Reacting the same way every time
causes less confusion and overload during what children perceive as
chaotic or already overloading circumstances. Students rely on adult
reaction to learn or develop new behaviors." (pages 48-49)
I listed my 14 personal behavioral rules of engagement on page 49,
"Child is Never Red - the Choice is Red...
"Never Use the Word 'Bad"...
"Talking about Red and Green Choices When Calm - Situations & Possible
Solutions, Before & After"...
"Zero Tolerance for Noncompliant Behaviors" ...
"It is my responsibility to ensure every student in my classroom or on
my list (being serviced in he general education environment) is
having fun at school. If not then I make sure it becomes fun, and
fast." (page 52)
"I ensure a positive, respectful, safe and fun environment for all
of my students." (page 52)
Take care of students' fears and
apprehensions. Allow them to enjoy school.
& Logo is a TM of Green Irene: Materials/Charts May Be Printed
For Personal Use to Supplement An Individual's Red and Green
Choices Behavioral Development Strategy