Zones of Regulation is a framework designed to foster self-regulation and emotional control. Using a cognitive behavioural approach, the step by step curriculum helps children recognize, understand and change their physical/emotional state, referred to as “zones”, as needed to meet the demands of the environment. Each of four zones is represented by a specific colour, reflecting a continuum of regulation:
- The Blue Zone describes a sad, ill, tired, bored or generally low state of arousal
- The Green Zone describes a calm, focused, happy, open and engaged state of arousal
- The Yellow Zone describes a nervous, anxious, frustrated, excited, hyper or generally heightened state of arousal
- The Red Zone describes feelings of anger, rage, terror, devastation or an extremely heightened state of arousal which may lead to out of control behavior.
The Zones of Regulation curriculum is used by the clinicians at OT4KIDS to support children to develop the skills necessary to consciously regulate their emotions and actions, by using appropriate tools to shift to a calm and focused state when required. Tools can be sensory, environmental, cognitive or social in nature. The clinicians work one-on-one with each child to validate and normalize all emotions, while helping them navigate their emotional states across various environments; The overall goal being increased self-control and problem-solving skills for improved capacity to function and engage in everyday activities. While children learn these skills, parents and caregivers are also mentored on how to best co-regulate their children across various emotional states. With improved regulation, children are better ready and able to navigate social environments, engage in activities requiring attention and focus, and deal with potential stressors in their environments with confidence and independence. This allows for improved success during self-care tasks, social engagement, academic activities and play.
The Zones of Regulation curriculum compliments many other approaches, including Interoception. Consider the Interoception tab for more details.
- Emotional and sensory regulation
- Perspective taking
- Social problem-solving
- Executive functioning