Zones of Regulation
The Zones of Regulation is a complete social-emotional learning curriculum, created by Leah Kuypers, in order to teach children self-regulation and emotional control. It is often used in the school seting but parents can use and teach the Zones of Regulation at home too. They key message is to help your child/children to understand that it is ok to feel angry, be worried or scared, feel excited or calm, but they do need to find ways of managing those uncomfortable feelings.
What does Zones of Regulation teach children?
This program teaches a variety of social-emotional skills to children and navigating social situations.
Here are some skills taught during The Zones of Regulation:
- Identifying your emotions by categorising feelings into four Zones (more on this below).
- Self-regulation: Achieving the preferred state of alertness (Zone) for a situation. This is all about regulating your body and emotional regulation.
- Identifying triggers: Learning what makes you “tick” and why.
- Coping strategies/tools: Various techniques and strategies that help achieve emotional regulation and manage strong emotions.
- Size of the problem: Introduces the idea that the size of your reaction should match the size of your problem, how to identify the size of your problem, and strategies for problem solving.
- Expected behaviour vs unexpected behaviour: This also covers perspective taking and how your behaviour affects the thoughts and feelings of the people around you.
- Style of thinking: This covers the difference between flexible thinking (Superflex) and inflexible thinking (Rock Brain) and introduces the concept of an Inner Critic and an Inner Coach to the children.
What are the four Zones?
The green zone is used to describe when you are in a calm state of alertness. Being in the green zone means you are calm, focused, happy, or ready to learn. This is predominantly the state you want your child to be in. It’s also the state most needed in the classroom in order to learn.
The yellow zone describes when you have a heightened sense of alertness. This is not always a bad thing and you still have some control of your actions when you’re in the yellow zone.
Being in the yellow means you may feel frustrated, anxious or nervous. However, it could also mean you are feeling excited, silly, or hyper – which is okay in the right situations.
The red zone describes an extremely heightened state of intense emotions. When a person reaches the red zone, they are no longer able to control their emotions or reactions. Being in the red zone means you are feeling anger, rage, terror, or complete devastation and feel out of control.
The blue zone, on the other hand, is used when a person is feeling low states of alertness. When you are in the blue zone you may be feeling down – sad, sick, tired, or bored. You are still in control, as you are in the yellow zone, but with low energy emotions.
How the Zones are used?
The children explore these Zones and learn to identify which Zones they themselves and others are in. This is supported by all staff who incorporate Zones into conversation and teaching and by wearing Zones cards attached to their staff lanyards. In every classroom, there is a Zones poster or display visible to the children. Sometimes children can’t or don’t want to name the emotion they are feeling, but they can identify which Zone they are in.
Once children can understand the concept of the four Zones, they will explore ways to help regulate themselves with the support of tools/strategies and calming techniques.
What can you do at home?
You can support at home, by asking your child/children which Zone they are in and then exploring ideas to help your child ‘get back to the green’. It is important to reinforce the idea that no Zone is a naughty or bad Zone but there will be times when certain Zones are expected and times when they are not. Praise your child for identifying which Zone they are in and using tools to help them self-regulate and then remind your child about the size of their reaction based on the size of the problem.
Using tools/strategies to help with self-regulation.
Some tools that help children to feel calmer include colouring, using stress balls, listening to calming music, going for a walk, yoga, deep breathing, playing with dough or putty, or mindfulness.
Some tools that help children to gain energy and feel less tired include drinking water and eating a snack, doing some physical exercise like going for as walk or doing some jumping jacks and dancing or singing to their favourite music.
Please see the following resources linked below, which you can use at home with your child/children.
For further information click on the below to go to the Zones of Regulation website.