Zones of Regulation
'Zones of Regulation' is a curriculum created by Leah Kuypers.
The Red Zone involves intense emotions, often when a child seems “out-of-control” or "tantrumming." This is when a child needs to STOP whatever they are doing immediately.
Examples: rage, anger, devastation, extreme frustration
The Yellow Zone is entering the red zone, but when the child still has some control and could hopefully put on the brakes.
Examples: anxiety, frustration, over excitement, disappointment
The Green Zone is optimal emotionally - smooth sailing.
Examples: positive, calm, happy, focused, content
The Blue Zone is when a child is "dragging."
Examples: sick, bored, tired, sad
Helping children to understand and identify these zones can be an incredible tool to use throughout the day, as it provides a clear and common language about emotions, with specific steps to follow. Ideally, you want to catch a child BEFORE they hit the red zone, as they will be much more responsive to cooling down at that stage. If you hit the red zone without warning, use as few words as possible to direct them to their cool down tools, and save discussion for after they are back in the green.
When teaching zones of regulation, it is really critical to save time for a child to practice their cool down techniques while in the green zone. Our bodies and minds have a kind of 'muscle memory' that will make using these techniques easier when they actually are more out of control. Practice, practice, practice!!
Ideally, a teacher or parent could create a 'Calm Down Toolkit' for each child, along with a 'Calm Down Space.' The toolkit should include a list of recommendations for each zone of regulation. One example:
Workout body - home exercise machine (if safe enough), jog in place, jumping jacks, stomp in place on a designated carpet, wall push ups, take a walk or run around the yard (if safe enough), do stretches
Balloon Bounce - bounce a balloon until it is controlled enough to count to ten 'bops'
Tear up junk paper
Enter calm down spot and do calming activities (read, draw, fidgets, music)
Count slowly to 10
Close eyes for a few minutes
Look at a collection of favorite or special things
Tense and relax muscles
Think calming thoughts
Check in on your body - are you hungry? sleepy? thirsty?
Make a new plan if a project was frustrating - do you need help? A new approach?
Ask for a hug
Talk to an adult
Take a nap