At Dene House Primary, we recognise the importance of promoting positive mental health and emotional wellbeing to our students and their families. We aim to create an open culture around the discussion of mental health and wellbeing and to empower our children be able to regulate their emotions. By implementing the Zones of Regulation strategies, we aim to teach our pupils to identify emotions in themselves and others and provide them with a bank of strategies to help regulate their emotions and improve their wellbeing.
The Zones of Regulation is a range of activities to help your child develop skills in self-regulation. 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. For example, when your child plays in a football game, it is beneficial to have a higher state of alertness. However, that same state would not be appropriate in the library.
The Zones of Regulation are based around the use of four colours to help children self-identify how they’re feeling and categorise it based on colour. It also helps children better understand their emotions, sensory needs and thinking patterns. The children learn different strategies to cope and manage their emotions based on which colour zone they’re in. Additionally, the Zones of Regulation helps children to recognise their own triggers, learn to read facial expressions, develop problem-solving skills, and become more attuned to how their actions affect other people.
At Dene House Primary School, we want to teach our children good coping and regulation strategies so they can help themselves when they experience anxiety and stress.
Using the Zones of Regulation as a framework, we aim to help children to:
- 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’).
So what are the zones?
There are 4 coloured zones to categorise states of alertness and emotional states:
- The Blue Zone – used to describe low states of alertness, (such as feeling sad, tired, sick or bored. Body/brain is moving sluggishly).
- The Green Zone – used to describe a regulated state of alertness (such as feeling calm, happy, focussed or content). This zone is generally needed for school work, being social and ready to learn. It shows control.
- The Yellow Zone – used to describe a heightened state of alertness, but with some control (such as when experiencing stress, frustration, anxiety, excitement, silliness, nervousness, confusion – slightly elevated emotions (being fidgety, wiggly, squirmy or sensory seeking). The person is starting to lose control.
- The Red Zone – used to describe extremely heightened states of alertness or very intense feelings (such as feeling anger, rage, and explosive behaviour, panic, terror or elation). Not being in control of one’s own body.
Tools and Strategies for Regulation
There are multiple tools and strategies that our students can use to self-regulate – and they will be individual to each child. However, it may be useful to think about the types of activities that will help our children to regulate in each zone.
Blue Zone Tools:
✓ Think about what you might do as an adult to make you feel better when you are sad, tired or bored.
✓ This might include talking to a trusted person, breathing, taking a break and relaxing, doing a hobby or importantly, doing some physical exercise.
✓ These exercises should wake up our bodies, recharge and activate our senses and regain our focus. Examples may include: taking a walk, doing some active movement (think jumping, bouncing or swinging).
Green Zone Tools:
✓ Think about the strategies you or your child uses to maintain your happiness, alertness in the activity you are engaging in, and calmness.
✓ This may include all of the activities mentioned above, and also pay attention to the environment your child is in – is it safe, calm and enabling of engagement?
Yellow Zone Tools:
✓ When you see your child starting to become heightened, fidgety, over-excited or unfocussed – try to introduce the following calming strategies to prevent an escalation into the Red Zone (or out of control)
Red Zone Tools:
✓ Once in the Red Zone, your child will more than likely need to be removed from the situation/setting, and it is encouraged that they go to an environment that is calming and safe.
✓ Calming strategies that ‘power down’ the emotions your child is feeling can be practiced here. These include:
- Deep breathing
- Deep pressure/heavy work activities
- Sensory activities – using sensory aids and tools such as theraputty, stress balls, vibrating snakes etc.
- Taking a walk in a quiet place
- Going to a quiet and dark area (i.e. pillow fort/dark tent)
✓ Minimise your language when your child is in the red zone – be clear, concise and calm in your tone.
To find out more about how you can help your child recognise, manage and regulate their emotions. Please view or download the PDF document below.