How Can We Teach Children About The Zones of Regulation?

Written by Dan

Last updated

When we think about “regulating” ourselves, we often think about controlling our emotions and reactions. But what does that mean for children? How can they learn to do the same?

The Zones of the Regulation curriculum is designed to help children (and adults!) understand and regulate their emotions and behaviours. Here’s a look at how it works.

The Zones Of Regulation

What are the Zones of Regulation?

The Zones of Regulation is a system that teaches children how to identify and manage their feelings and states of being. It assigns different emotional states to four distinct zones; Red, Yellow, Green and Blue.

The Red Zone represents heightened emotional states such as anger, frustration or crying; Yellow Zone represents emotions such as anxiety; the Green represents calmness and happiness; and the Blue Zone symbolizes sadness.

By learning the Zones of Regulation system, children can become more aware of their emotional states and better understand which coping strategies to use for each emotion.

Developing this better understanding of emotion regulation can help reduce operational stress in children during everyday situations, leading to better academic performance at school.

How Can Parents Help Teach Children The Zones?

Parents and caregivers are in a unique position to help teach their children about the Zones of Regulation. Doing so helps children better understand their emotions and reactions, making managing them more accessible. Age-appropriate teaching involves using language and visuals, such as stories or pictures that illustrate different emotional states.

Parents can also encourage positive coping strategies by explaining the Zone they want their child to move towards (Green Zone) and how to do that. Role modelling is also important – when parents/caregivers can show calm behaviour in difficult circumstances, it teaches kids how to face challenging situations with composure.

Teaching kids about the Zones of Regulation equips them with tools to self-regulate and increase their ability to cope with whatever life throws.

What Activities Or Games Can Help?

For children with emotional and behavioural issues, the Zones of Regulation provide a framework for better understanding how their behaviours express their emotions. One way to help children internalize and apply the Zones is through play-based activities and games.

Counsellors, teachers, and parents can use physical activities such as running around in different zones depending on emotions or doing multiple exercises where they must change the pace when transitioning between zones.

Other creative possibilities include building a Zone house with figurines representing certain feelings in those spaces and playing games like Zones Matching that use matching cards with different facial expressions.

While specific activities should be tailored to each individual to prevent boredom, these methods can have a positive influence in helping children become more aware of their state of emotion and develop effective Emotion Regulation strategies.

How We Support Children With The Zones?

One of the most helpful ways for parents and caregivers to support a child struggling to regulate their emotions or behaviour is to be patient and supportive. Listen to their concerns and take their feelings seriously, as this helps children feel secure and understood. It is also essential for parents and caregivers to create an environment that encourages openness.

Assisting children to develop problem-solving skills, teaching them healthy coping strategies, and providing reassurance are other great ways of supporting them during moments of struggle.

Finally, it can be beneficial to connect the child with a mental health professional who can help them learn lifelong regulation tools. For more information on this you may want to read our article about looking after children’s well-being in school.

Other Resources

Teaching children about the Zones of Regulation can be a challenging task. However, there are resources available that can help make this process easier. Such resources include helpful visuals, games and activities, books, worksheets, and programs focusing on this concept.

Developed by Leah Kuypers, an occupational therapist and educator, the Zones of Regulation is a curriculum for helping children better understand their emotions and learn how to manage them.

Visuals such as posters can be highly beneficial in allowing children to identify the feelings associated with each Zone quickly. Games and activities allow repetition and reinforcement of the concepts learned in a fun way.

There are also plenty of books written on the subject that give adults and children stories they can relate to while learning the fundamentals of self-regulation. Worksheets allow students to track their increased understanding over time, while programs offer structure within the learning process which may prove helpful for those who need it.

Overall these resources have been designed to make teaching students about the Zones of Regulation more engaging and less daunting, making it possible for even the novice educator to get involved.

Parents and caregivers play an essential role in teaching children about the Zones of Regulation. By helping children to understand and identify the different Zones, parents and caregivers can support them in learning how to regulate their emotions and behaviour.

Various activities and games can be used to teach children about the Zones of Regulation. Many resources are also available to help parents and caregivers support children as they learn to regulate their emotions and behaviour.

What strategies have you found helpful for teaching children about the Zones of Regulation? Do you have other suggestions for parents or caregivers who want to support their children as they learn to regulate their emotions and behaviour?


At what age can you teach zones of regulation?

The Zones of Regulation can be taught to children as young as 4. It is recommended that concepts be reinforced throughout elementary school, and more in-depth discussions can occur during middle and high school.

What activities are used to teach zones of regulation?

Activities used to teach the Zones of Regulation may include visual supports such as posters, games and activities to help with repetition and reinforcement, books for both children and adults on the subject matter, worksheets that allow students to track their progress over time, and structured programs to provide structure.

What strategies can parents use when teaching zones of regulation?

Strategies parents can use when teaching the Zones of Regulation include providing visuals, such as posters and images, to help children understand the concept. Games and activities are also helpful in creating fun ways for children to learn and practice the lessons they have been taught.

Parents should also utilize books that relate to the topic, allow their child to track progress with worksheets and provide structure with structured programs. Parents must be consistent and patient while teaching the Zones of Regulation.

What resources can help teach zones of regulation?

Resources that can be used to teach the Zones of Regulation include visuals such as posters, games and activities, books were written on the subject, worksheets to track progress, and structured programs.

There are also a host of online resources available to help teach the Zones of Regulation, such as websites that offer activities, worksheets, and other information on the subject.

Finally, there are many teachers and professionals in the field who can provide guidance and support when teaching children about the Zones.

How do you introduce zones of regulation to students?

Explaining the concept straightforwardly is essential when introducing the Zones of Regulation to students. Begin by discussing what emotions are and how they can be regulated.

Then, submit each Zone and provide examples of when each Zone might be used. Finally, practice activities to help students apply their understanding of the different Zones. It is also important to provide visuals, such as posters or images, to reinforce the concept.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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