Home Page

Zones of Regulation

Promoting Wellbeing and Positive Mental Health

The Zones of Regulation Guide for Parents

Definition of Self-Regulation:

‘… it is defined as the capacity as the capacity to manage one’s thoughts, feelings and actions in adaptive and flexible ways across a range of contexts.’ (Jude Nicholas)


Why is Self-Regulation Important?

‘Life is 10% what happens to use and 90% how we react to it.’ (Charles Swindoll)


The Zones of Regulation is a programme full of a range of activities to help children develop skills in the area of self-regulation.  Self-regulation can go by many names, such as self-control, self-management and impulse control. 


Some of the aims of The Zones of Regulation

  • To help children recognise when they are in the different Zones and how to change or stay in the Zone they are in.
  • To gain an increased vocabulary of emotional terms so that they can explain how they are feeling.
  • To gain insight into events that might them move into the different Zones eg. disagreement with a friend, a certain subject being taught or an unplanned/unexpected event.
  • To help children understand that emotions, sensory experiences, physiological needs and environments can influence which Zone they are in.
  • To develop problem-solving skills.
  • To identify a range of different calming and alerting strategies/tools that support them.

We are teaching children to think about how their body feels and their emotions and have split them into four coloured zones.

Blue Zone

Green Zone

Yellow Zone

Red Zone           


For each of the coloured zones, children are made aware of the different feelings that may be experienced when in the zone.

We support children in understanding that we all feel different emotions and that it is OK to feel all these emotions.  Sometimes we may want to move Zone or change our emotions.  To be able to do this we are learning strategies or tools for self-regulation and emotional control.  It is important for children to understand that there is no ‘bad’ zone.   

We know that we can’t change the way that children feel that children feel but we can help them manage their feelings.


Blue Zone tools: help wake up our bodies, feel better and regain focus.


Green Zone tools: help us stay calm, focused and feeling good.  These are often proactive strategies.


Yellow Zone tools: help us regain control and calm ourselves.


Red Zone tools: help us stay safe and start to calm down.

Tools for Regulation

What can we do to support children in getting back to the optimum Green zone ready for learning?


For the BLUE Zone – Increase Arousal                 

  • think happy thoughts
  • talk about your feelings
  • rub hands together
  • run on the spot
  • shoulder rub
  • ask for a hug
  • swinging or spinning
  • stretching or jumping jacks
  • drink water
  • bright lights
  • listen to loud music
  • strong scents

For the GREEN Zone - Maintaining

  • keep your eyes on the teacher
  • remember your daily goals
  • finish your work
  • think happy thoughts
  • be a good friend
  • help others
  • smile
  • work hard

For the YELLOW Zone – Decrease Arousal

  • talk to my teacher/parents/friends
  • take 3 deep breaths
  • do a wall push up
  • use a fidget toy
  • go for a walk
  • take a break
  • read

For the RED Zone – Decrease Arousal

  • take three deep breaths
  • how big is the problem?
  • Jump on a trampoline
  • Relax your muscles
  • Sensory break
  • Push the wall

Sensory Strategies to use to help children feel regulated


  • Bear Hug
  • Swing/Rock
  • Go for a walk
  • Push Ups
  • Sucking smoothie through a straw
  • Chewy foods
  • Blowing bubbles
  • Listening to classical music
  • Rolling on an exercise ball
  • Jumping on a trampoline

Try having a sensory box at home.


Thinking Strategies


Inner Coach vs Inner Critic

Children are supported in recognising and understanding how big the problem is.  As children become confident in identifying the size of the problem, they explore expected and unexpected reactions.  It is important to praise children for having expected reactions rather than just pointing out unexpected reactions. 

Calming Strategies

Calming Activities

How can parents support The Zones of Regulation at home?


  • Identify your own feelings using Zones language in front of your child – e.g. ‘I’m feeling frustrated because …, I am in the Yellow Zone.’
  • Talk about which tool you will use to be in the appropriate Zone – e.g. ‘I’m going going to go for a walk as I need to get to the Green Zone.’
  • Provide positive reinforcement when your child is in the Green Zone and if they make efforts to stay in the Green Zone – e.g. ‘I can see you’re working really hard to stay in the Green Zone by …’
  • Label which Zones your child is in throughout the day – e.g. ‘You look sleepy, I wonder if you are in the Blue Zone?’
  • Teach your child which Zone tools they can use – e.g. ‘It’s time for bed, let’s read a book together to get to the Blue Zone.’
  • Post and reference the Zones visuals and tools in your home (Zone check in stations and toolboxes for the family).  Make portable Zone cards.
  • Play ‘Feelings Charades’. Take turns choosing emotions from a stack of cards and act it out using only face and body clues.  Guess each other’s emotion and discuss which Zone it is in and why.  Try naming a tool you could use when feeling that emotion.
  • Name the feelings of characters while watching a TV programme or film and identify any strategies they use.


For more information on the ZONES

Zones of Regulation website:

Video about being in the RED Zone

Video about being in the GREEN Zone

Video about being in the BLUE Zone

Video about being in the YELLOW Zone