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How does the Zones of Regulation strategy support my child? 

  • Recognise when they are in the different Zones and learn how to change or stay in the Zone they are in.
  • Increase their emotional vocabulary so they can explain how they are feeling.
  • Recognise when other people are in different Zones, thus developing better empathy.
  • Develop an insight into what might make them move into the different Zones.
  • Understand that emotions, sensory experiences such as lack of sleep or hunger and their environment might influence which Zone they are in.
  • Develop problem-solving skills and resilience
  • Identify a range of calming and alerting strategies that support them (known as their personal ‘toolkit’.)

What are the different Zones of Regulation? 

The zones of regulation divide all emotions into four zones: 

Blue Zone: low level of arousal; not ready to learn; feels sad, sick, tired, bored, moving slowly.

Green Zone: calm state of alertness; optimal level to learn; feels happy, calm, feeling okay, focused.

Yellow Zone: heightened state of alertness; elevated emotions; has some control; feels frustrated, worried, silly/wiggly, excited, loss of some control.

Red Zone: heightened state of alertness and intense emotions; not an optimal level for learning; out of control; feels mad/angry, terrified, yelling/hitting, elated or out of control.

What are the different Zones of Regulation? 

It is important that children understand that everyone experiences all of the Zones. The Red and Yellow zones are not ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’ Zones. All of the Zones are expected at one time or another.  We will show them that the Blue Zone, for example, is helpful when you are trying to fall asleep.

 The Zones of Regulation is taught explicitly at first but then is embedded within our curriculum and becomes part of their school day.  It is not just used by teachers but all staff in school. 

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

  • Identify your own feelings using Zones language in front of your child (e.g.: I’m frustrated. I think I am in the Yellow Zone.”)
  • Talk about what tool you will use to be in the appropriate Zone (e.g.: “I need to take four deep breaths to help get me back to the Green Zone.”)
  • At times, wonder which Zone your child is in. Or, discuss which Zone a character in a film / book might be in. (e.g.: “You look sleepy. Are you in the Blue Zone?”)
  • Engage your child in discussion around Zones when they are in the Red Zone is unlikely to be effective. You need to be discussing the different Zones and tools they can use when they are more regulated / calm.
  • Teach your child which tools they can you. (eg: “It’s time for bed. Let’s read a book together in the comfy chair to get you in the Blue Zone.”)
  • Regular Check-ins. “How are you feeling now?”  and “How can you get back to Green?”
  • Modelling It is important to remember to show the children how you use tools to get back to the green zones. You might say “I am going to make myself a cup of tea and do some breathing exercises because I am in the blue zone” and afterwards tell your child how using those tools helped you get back to the green zone.
  • Share how their behaviour is affecting your Zone. For example, if they are in the Green Zone, you could comment that their behaviour is also helping you feel happy / go into the Green Zone.
  • Put up and reference the Zones visuals and tools in your home.
  • Praise and encourage your child when they share which Zone they are in.

Tips for practising the Zones of Regulation

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

·         Know your child’s sensory threshold. We all process sensory information differently and it impacts our reactivity to situations.

·         Know your child’s triggers.

·         Be consistent in managing your child’s behaviour and use the same language you use at home.

·         Empathise with your child and validate what they are feeling.

·         Have clear boundaries/routines and always follow through.

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

·         Discuss strategies for the next time when you are in a similar situation.

·         Remember to ask your child how their choices made you feel (empathy).

·         Praise your child for using strategies. Encourage your child to take a sensory break to help regulate their bodies.

·         Create a ‘calm’ box full of things which help to keep your child calm and alert.

As part of our learning about the Zones of Regulation, children will get to choose ‘tools’ to go in their toolkits. Consider what could help your child at home with these zones.  


What strategies can I use to support my child? 

Challenging negative thoughts: 

Make sure you frequently praise your child for having expected reactions rather than just pointing out the unexpected reactions. 

Breathing techniques:

Starting at the star, trace with your finger the sides of the hexagon as you take a deep breath in, feeling your shoulders rise as the air fills you. 

Trace over the next side as you hold your breath for a moment. Slowly breathe out as you trace the third side of the hexagon.

Continue tracing around the bottom three sides of the hexagon as you complete another deep breath. 

Continue the Six Sides of Breathing cycle until you feel calm and relaxed.

Trace the Lazy 8 with your finger starting at the star and taking a deep breath in.

As you cross over to the other side of the Lazy8, slowly let your breath out.

Continue breathing around the Lazy 8 until you have a calm body and mind.

Grounding Techniques

Grounding techniques can help someone who is extremely anxious or scared, has lost control and is struggling to calm down.

5-4-3-2-1 Senses


  • 5 things you see
  • 4 things you hear
  • 3 things you smell
  • 2 things you can touch
  • 1 thing you taste

5-4-3-2-1 Sights

If noticing each sense is tough right now, try an exercise just with sights. Create categories and have them name what they see. Here’s an example:

  • 5 colours I see
  • 4 shapes I see
  • 3 soft things I see
  • 2 people I see
  • 1 book I see

A-B-C: Around the Room

This exercise will get the child connected with that place where they are right now. Have your child look around the room and name something they see that starts with A, then B, then C and so forth. See how far they can get through the alphabet and then check-in to see how they’re feeling once they reach the end.


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