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Zones of Regulation

of regulation


The Zone of Regulation provides a way to think and talk about how we feel on the inside and sort these feelings into four coloured Zones and this aims to teach the children strategies to help them cope with these feelings so they can get back to feeling calm and ready to learn, manage big feelings and positive relationships


Blue Zone

Sad, Tired, Bored, Sick, Fatigue

Body Signals: Heavy Limbs, Moving slowly, Slow heartbeat, foggy head.

The blue zone, describes low state of alertness and down feelings, such as when a person feels, sad, tired, sick, hurt, lonely or board. Our energy is low and our body is moving slowly when we are in the blue zone. When in the Blue Zone we often need to rest and recharge to meet our goals. We can regulate by seeking (or co-regulate by offering) comfort, energizing, or resting. If we are feeling sick in the Blue Zone, we may need to rest. If we are feeling tired, we may need to energize (depending on context) If we are feeling sad, we may need comfort. In all these situations, the common theme is noticing our lower energy and/or down feelings and options for managing them.

Green Zone

Focused, Happy, Content, Calm, Proud.

Body signals: Relaxed Muscles, Comfortable body temperature, Focused/engaged brain

The green zone describes a calm, alert, state. We may be feeling happy, focused, content, peaceful or calm in the Green Zone. The nervous system feels safe, organized and connected in the Green Zone, helping us be primed to learn. However, we can learn in other zones too.

When in the green zoon we regulate by using tools and supports that keep us moving forward comfortable, helping us feel ready to go! In the green zone, we might regulate by choosing to eat a healthy snack, exercise, take a break or pause for a mindful moment. These are restorative actions help us proactively care for ourselves so we can move forward with ease.

Yellow Zone

Stressed, worried, excited, silly, frustrated.

Body signals: Wiggly, Heart beating faster, body warming up, muscles tense, thinking faster.

The Yellow Zone describes when our energy is higher and our internal state starts to elevate. Our emotions get a little stronger. We may be experiencing stress, frustration, anxiety, excitement, silliness, confusion, nervousness, be overwhelmed or have the wiggles, when in the Yellow Zone.

In the Yellow Zone we may need to act to regulate to manage our energy and feelings as they get stronger. For example, if we are feeling energetic at the lunch table it helps to use caution performance, we can slow down our racing thoughts and speech by using a mindfulness tool. When we are frustrated and pause to take notice, we can decide to take a break to collect ourselves before we say something we regret.

Red Zone

Elated/Overjoyed, angry, terrified, devastated, panicked, out of control.

Body Signals: Heartbeat fast, skin flushed, hot/sweating, muscles tense.

The Red Zone describes a state of extremely high energy and intense, very overwhelming feelings. We may be in an extremely heightened state of alertness, potentially triggering our fight, flight, freeze or flee protective response. We may feel elated, euphoric, anger, rage, devasted, out of control, panicked or terrified when in the Red Zone.

When in the red zone we might need to pause and assess if we need to regulate and gain a sense of control of our strong feelings and high energy.

For example, if we are feeling angry it may help to pause and count to 10 before we act, if we are panicked, we can stop and use our self-talk to help us gain a sense of control of our thoughts in order to meet our goal. If we are elated, we might need to pause and take a big breath to regulate our self.

How you can help your child use The Zones of Regulation at home.

  • Identify your own feelings using Zone language in front of your child.

  • Talk about what you can do to get back into the appropriate zone

  • Regular check-ins ‘How are you feeling now?’ and ‘how can you get back to green?’

  • Modelling is also important to remember and to show your child how you get back in the green zone.

  • Share how their behaviour is affecting your zone

  • Put up the zones in the home and use the toolkit

  • Praise and encourage your child when they share which zone they are in.

  • Try and focus upon the positive

  • Tips for practicing the Zones of Regulation

Know yourself and how you react in difficult situations before dealing with your child’s behaviours.

  • Know your child’s triggers

  • Be consistent in managing your child’s behaviour – try to remain positive

  • Have clear boundaries and routines

  • Always follow through

  • Empathise with your child and validate what they are feeling

  • Do not deal with an angry, upset child when you are not yet calm yourself

  • Discuss a plan for the next time between you, when you are in a similar situation

  • Ask your child how their choices made you feel (Empathy)

  • Create a calm box

What Should I do?

Tools and exercise to help a child when they are not feeling green, calm and focused

What Should I dowhen I’m feeling Blue?

  • Jump up and down

  • Drink water

  • Read a book

  • Have a sleep

  • Go on the trampoline

  • Talk to a friend or grown up

  • Meditate


What Should I do- when I’m feeling Yellow?

  • Deep breathing

  • Talk to a friend or grown up

  • Push the wall

  • Meditate

  • Squeeze muscles

  • Sing

  • Yoga

  • Use a calm box

  • Five finger breathing


What should I doWhen I’m feeling red?

  • Go to a dark space

  • Sing

  • Push ups

  • Wrap yourself in a blanket

  • Deep breathing

  • Heavy blanket

  • Big Hug

  • Calm box

  • Five finger breathing

What should I doTo help me feel Green?

  • Think of a happy memory

  • Squeeze and relax muscles

  • Slow breathing 5 times

  • Star breathing

  • Slow belly breathing 5 times

  • Hand breathing

  • Put a heavy blanket over you

  • Give yourself a big hug

  • Choose a yoga card to calm you

  • Lie down on the floor and rest

  • Push against a floor

  • Push yourself up on the chair

  • Push against a wall

  • Get a drink of water

  • Read a book

  • Colour or draw a picture

  • Write it down

  • Ask for help

Remember children can be in more than one zone and listing more than one zone reflects a good sense of personal feelings and awareness.

It is best for children to experience the natural consequences of being in the Red Zone for example if a child’s actions/choice hurt someone or destroys something, they need to repair and take responsibility for the mess they create. Once they are calm, you can use the experience as a learning opportunity for next time and what they can do differently.

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