What is ‘The Zones of Regulation’?

The Zones of Regulation (or Zones) provides a common language to discuss emotions –a language that is non-judgemental. The Zones of Regulation is simple for children to understand and helpful to use when talking to children about how they are feeling. It teaches coping and regulation strategies. Self-regulation can go by many names, such as self-control, self-management, and impulse control. It is defined as the best state of alertness of both the body and emotions for the specific situation. A person who can self-regulate can remain calm and organised in a stressful situation (executive functions); cheer themselves up after a disappointment (emotional regulation); knows when they are experiencing sensory overload and can make adjustments (sensory processing); and understands when it is appropriate to cheer and shout and when to be quiet (social cognition).

What are the different Zones?

We talk about 4 zones. The Red Zone, the Blue Zone, the Yellow Zone and the Green Zone. We teach that it is ‘ok’ to be in any of these zones and that, sometimes, we might be in more than one zone. We can’t change the way children feel BUT we can help them manage their feelings/states and behaviours . “It’s OK to be angry and in the Red Zone but it is not OK to hit…”

The Zones of Regulation

We also teach the tools to move from one zone to another. For instance, we often call the Green Zone the ‘ready to learn’ zone, so, if we are in the Yellow Zone and feeling fizzy, we might need to use a tool to get back to the Green Zone. The children will start to learn which tools help them get ‘into the Zone’.

Regulation Toolkit

How can you use the Zones at home?

You could start ‘wondering aloud’. For instance, ‘I wonder if you might be in the Yellow Zone because you are jumping up and down and can’t stop talking. I think you are excited.’ You could ask your child which Zone they think a character in a film or book might be in and how they know. You could model using your own ‘tools’ to get back in ‘the Zone’. For instance, ‘I think I’m in the Blue Zone because I’m very tired. I need to do my work so I’m going to go and have a quick walk and then try again.’
If you would like to find out more you can visit the Zones website: