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Zones of Regulation

What are the “Zones of Regulation”?

The Zones of Regulation is an internationally renowned intervention which helps children to manage difficult emotions, known as ‘self-regulation’. Self-regulation is best described as the best state of alertness for a situation. For example, when your child takes part in a sports game, they would need to have a higher state of alertness than when, for example, they were working in a library.


From time to time, all of us (including adults) find it hard to manage strong feelings such as worry, anger, restlessness, fear or tiredness, and this stops us from getting on with our day effectively. Children who feel these emotions often find it hard to learn and concentrate in school.


The Zones of Regulation aims to teach children strategies to help them cope with these feelings so they can get back to feeling calm and ready to learn. These coping strategies are called ‘self-regulation’. 

The learning activities are designed to help children recognise when they are in different states called “zones,” with each of four zones represented by a different colour.


Children learn how to use strategies or tools to stay in a zone or move from one to another. Children explore calming techniques and sensory supports so they will have a 'toolbox' of methods to use to move between zones.


There are four zones to describe how your brain and body feel:


BLUE Zone – Your body is running slow, such as when you are tired, sick, sad or bored.

GREEN Zone – Like a green light, you are “good to go.” Your body may feel happy, calm and focused.

YELLOW Zone – This zone describes when you start to lose control, such as when you are frustrated, anxious, worried, silly or surprised. Use caution when you are in this zone.

RED Zone – This zone is for extreme emotions such as anger, excitement, terror and aggression. When you are in this zone, you could be out of control, have trouble making good decisions and must STOP!


Why are we teaching this to the children?

We need to teach our children coping and regulation strategies so they can help themselves when they become stressed, anxious, or sad. Typically, children who can ‘self-regulate’ will turn into teenagers and adults who can self-regulate. Self-regulation skills are vital for the success and happiness of our children.

In a world where there seems to be an increasing pressure on our children to cope with more and more stresses from a variety of factors, we feel as a school we can all benefit from talking more about our emotions and as a result, develop strategies to manage them.


More information and how others can help…

Ask your child what colour ‘zone’ they are in and consider what you can do to support them moving from one zone to another.

Watch clips from Disney’s Inside Out it is a great film for explaining emotions and how they make your brain react in different ways. If you haven’t seen the film, please do try to watch it. It will definitely put you in the green zone! 


Can my child be in more than one zone at the same time?

Yes. Your child may feel tired (blue zone) because they did not get enough sleep, and anxious (yellow zone) because they are worried about an activity at school. Listing more than one Zone reflects a good sense of personal feelings and alertness levels.


What are the consequences of my child being in the RED zone?

It’s best for children to experience the natural consequences of being in the RED zone. If a child’s actions/choices hurt someone or destroys property, they need to repair the relationship and take responsibility for the mess they create. Once the child has calmed down, use the experience as a learning opportunity to process what the child would do differently next time.


Can you look like one Zone on the outside and feel like you are in another Zone on the inside?

Yes. Many of us “disguise” our Zone to match social expectations. We use the expression “put on a happy face” or mask the emotion so other people will have good thoughts about us. Parents often say that their children “lose it” and goes into the Red Zone as soon as they get home. This is because children are increasing their awareness of their peers and expectations when in the classroom. They make every effort to keep it together at school to stay in the Green Zone. Home is when they feel safe to let it all out.


Where can I find out more about the Zones of Regulation?

What are the zones?

What can help me?

It's good to feel lots of different emotions!