The Zones of Regulation is a programme that aims to help children notice the emotion they are
feeling and then regulate themselves if they are feeling uncomfortable.
The programme starts by helping children to identify which zone an emotion or feeling is in.
The children explore these zones and learn to be able to identify which zone they are in. This is
supported by staff who use the language of the zones when appropriate. There are posters in every
classroom and around the school. Sometimes children can’t or don’t want to name the emotion but
they can identify which zone they are in.
Children also learn that their feelings and emotions can lead to expected and unexpected behaviours and that those behaviours can have an impact on the children and adults around them e.g., if you are in the red zone and shouting very loudly at your friend it is unlikely that your friend will be in the green zone.
Once children understand the concept of the zones they will they explore ways to help regulate
themselves with the support of sensory devices and calming techniques. We want to help all
children recognise when they are beginning to feel uncomfortable in the yellow zone and have a
toolbox of ideas to help them regulate themselves.
In addition to addressing self-regulation, the students will gain an increased vocabulary of emotional terms, skills in reading other people’s facial expressions, perspective about how others see and react to their behaviour, insight into events that trigger their behaviour, calming and alerting strategies, and problem solving skills.
You can support you child/children at home by asking them which zone they are in or identifying
which zone they are in, e.g. “I wonder if you are in the yellow zone at the moment, you seem a bit
worried.” Naming the emotion can help them with their emotional literacy and show them that you
can see they are feeling uncomfortable. Exploring sensory ideas to help your child feel calmer will
also really help. Some children find colouring, play dough, using stress balls, time at the park or
reading really beneficial. You could also try using relaxing music, children’s yoga for deep breathing
exercises or mindfulness.
The key message is to help your child understand that it is ok to feel angry, be worried or scared but they do need to find ways to help themselves manage those uncomfortable feelings and self-sooth. This may also help them with their self-esteem and resilience.