The Zones of Regulation is a cognitive behavioural approach aimed at children, young people, parents, and teachers. The program is designed to teach self-regulation and emotional control: students learn to be more aware of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, and find new ways to manage their sensory needs and improve problem solving.
As the Zones poster demonstrates, each zone has its own special colour which relates to our level of physiological arousal and emotional state. Each zone is accompanied by pictures which provide further explanation as to how a person might be feeling and acting in each of the zones.
In the blue zone we have low levels of arousal and feelings like tiredness and boredom. In the green zone we have an optimum level of arousal for things like classroom learning and healthy play. In the green zone we typically feel calm and focused. The yellow zone is a slightly higher level of arousal and we may feel excited, silly, or anxious while in this zone. Finally the highest level of arousal occurs when we are in the red zone. In this zone we are likely to be mad, out of control, or elated.
None of the zones are “bad”
In the zones of regulation, none of the zones are bad, rather, they are simply more or less helpful for our current situation. For example, if you had just won the lottery, you probably wouldn’t be in the blue zone, more likely you would be in the yellow or red zone which is associated with feelings of excitement or elation! Similarly, it isn’t helpful to be in the yellow zone when it is time for bed. It is more helpful at this time of the day to be in the blue zone, feeling tired, so that we can easily fall into a slumber.
Moving between the zones
Our aim here is to be able to move between the zones so that we can have some control over our feelings and behaviour and there are various tools that we can use to move between the zones to either regulate up, or regulate down do an appropriate level of arousal.
Some of the tools are sensory and involve providing individuals with the opportunity to regulate the different types of sensory stimulation they are receiving (through touch, movement, sound, light, weight, temperature, smell etc…) whereas other tools are more cognitive and involve teaching thinking skills (inner coach versus inner critic). Others tools are social involving connecting with trusted allies, receiving praise and support from adults for adopting healthy tools, and learning new social skills.
If you would like to learn more about the Zones of Regulation or anything else mentioned in this post, contact SQPsych.
Shannon – SQPsych