Zones of Regulation

Zones of Regulation

As a school we use The Zones of Regulation Framework which is delivered across the two provisions and staff have noted progress in terms of individual children’s emotional regulation. The Zones of Regulation framework has been successful across the Provision so it has now been implemented across the school as a whole-school approach. All classrooms have the Zones on display and there is a main board for all children to use in the Year Two corridor and in Innovation House. Many students struggle to regulate their emotions, who are demonstrating an inability to cope with problems. Children can be spoken to negatively for disruptive behaviours rather than being taught skills to help them to manage their environment. This curriculum is used to teach students to self-regulate to meet the demands of the environment and succeed academically and socially.

What is self-regulation?

Self-regulation is described as a way of controlling your own behaviour, emotions and thoughts. Emotional self-regulation is the ability to manage disruptive and challenging emotions and impulses that may occur in a typical day. For example, the level of alertness required to do a piece of writing and that needed to do a running race are very different, and the socially expected behaviour in either situation is different. It encompasses the skills of controlling yourself, being resilient, managing your anger appropriately, controlling impulses and sensory regulation. Self-regulation abilities have a stronger correlation with school readiness than IQ or entry-level reading or math skills. To manage emotions, children need to understand their emotions. This includes: recognising facial expressions, recognising triggers, monitoring their emotional responses and identifying tools that can assist them.

What is ‘The Zones of Regulation’?

A framework to support and define how we think about and manage our feelings and states. It supports teaching through using four colours to categories emotions, feelings and actions. It improves the ability to recognise and communicate feelings in a safe, non-judgemental way. It helps develop ‘tools’ to move between Zones. It aims to help students consciously regulate their actions to increase control and problem-solving abilities. Activities aid recognition of emotions; emotions are categorised into zones which are represented by different colours (blue, green, yellow and red). Once children can recognise their zones, they will develop techniques appropriate for that zone – these are individualised. Children will recognise other people’s emotions and consequently adapt their behaviour to help their peers to regulate.

It is NOT: a discipline model or behaviour approach, punitive or shaming of negative behaviours.

The Zones

Zone How do I feel? Toolkit – you could try:
Blue: low state of alertness and energy; down feelings. Hurt, sad, tired, sick, exhausted, shy, bored Stretching, bouncing on the trampoline, having a drink or snack, draw a picture
Green: calm and organised state of alertness; neutral emotions. Good, calm, proud, thankful, happy, good listener, focused, relaxed Ask for help if you need it, be kind to yourself and others, stay hydrated, help others
Yellow: higher state of alertness but still have some cognitive control; energy is up; emotions elevated. Excited, frustrated, nervous, silly, overwhelmed, scared, upset, jealous, embarrassed, confused Talk about how you feel, bounce on the trampoline, ask to take a walk, squeeze a stress ball, take 3 deep breaths
Red: very heightened state of alertness; may be in fight, fright or flight mode; intense emotions. Mean, mad, yelling, angry, aggressive, terrified, out of control, elated Deep breathing, counting to 10, safe space, ‘push hard here’, doing something you enjoy (reading, drawing, …)

There is no ‘bad’ Zone, all Zones happen at different times in different situations. You can be in more than one Zone at a time. Some emotions may fall into more than one Zone. It is not about moving into a different zone, it is managing the zone you are in. The green zone is optimal for learning but you do not have to be there – some children rarely are due to their individual personality.

Key Language

  • Toolbox: a collection of calming and alerting strategies a child can draw upon (can be a literally toolbox or a collection of known strategies)
  • Tools: calming or alerting strategies that support self-regulation
  • Trigger: something that causes the child to become less regulated and increases the likelihood of going into the Yellow or Red Zones
  • Stop, Opt, Go: a concept to aid children in controlling impulses and problem solving better solutions
  • Expected behaviours: behaviours that give those around you good or comfortable thoughts about you
  • Unexpected behaviours: behaviours that give people uncomfortable thoughts about you
  • Inner Critic: negative, self-defeating thoughts
  • Inner Coach: positive, helpful thoughts
  • Size of the problem: is this a big problem or a little problem?

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