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Zones of Regulation

Developing children’s awareness of theirs and others mental health and wellbeing is a big focus at HTPD. Promoting good emotional wellbeing in our children and their families leads to happier and more successful learners. We want to empower our children to be able to recognise and regulate their emotions in a range of situations, including challenging ones. By implementing the Zones of Regulation programme and using other strategies, we aim to teach children at HTPD how to identify emotions in themselves and others, before providing them with a bank of strategies to help them regulate their emotions and improve their wellbeing.

We aim to teach a range of activities to help your child develop skills in the area of self-regulation. Emotion and 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 is about to compete in a sporting event, it benefits them to be in a higher state of alertness. However, that same state of alertness would not be appropriate whilst they are listening to their teacher during lesson time or when they are sat reading quietly in the library. All adults in school continuously model and describe how they themselves regulate their emotions in order to achieve day to day tasks.

The Zones of Regulation is a curriculum based around the use of four colours to help children first identify how their body is feeling, before categorising these feelings into either the Green, Yellow, Red or Blue Zone. The children learn different strategies to cope and manage their emotions based on which zone they’re in. Additionally, the Zones of Regulation help 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.

Whilst Green Zone is associated with self-control and includes emotions and feelings which best suit classroom-based learning e.g. being calm, it is important to recognise that we learn how to manage other feelings so that we can still make good decisions and learn well. For example, your child may be in Yellow Zone because they are excited for their birthday party at the weekend, but with help they will learn how to find strategies to manage those feelings associated with excitement so that they can still do well in school and any other activities they carry out during that week.

Blue Zone

Green Zone Yellow Zone Red Zone





Moving Slow





Ready to Learn











Out of Control

We have developed a progression from Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) to Key Stage One and on through Key Stage Two. First the children will learn how to identify different emotions before moving onto discussing how to react appropriately in a wide range of scenarios. They will discuss the importance of trying to work out the size of a problem before reacting to it; pre-empting and predicting their reactions to a given situation or challenge; along with learning how their reactions and behaviour may impact others.

Understanding the Zones

What is the Blue Zone?

The blue zone is used when a person is feeling at a low state of alertness or arousal.

When you’re in the blue zone you may be feeling down – sad, sick, tired, or bored. If you are deep into Blue Zone, you may feel less in control of your feelings and find it hard to focus on the task at hand.

What behaviours may your child show in Blue Zone:

  • Easily distracted
  • Unable to focus on a task
  • Slumped body
  • Crying
  • Short-tempered

How might your child be feeling in the Blue Zone?

  • absence of feelings
  • irritability
  • lack of pleasure
  • lack of motivation
  • tearful
  • withdrawn
  • difficulty in concentrating

What coping strategies do we implement in school?

  • Exercise
  • Sensory breaks
  • Reflecting on what makes us happy and thankful
  • Mindfulness activities
  • Talking to our teachers and friends
  • Clubs
  • ELSA (emotional literacy support assistant) sessions

What strategies can you use at home?

  • Listen to music
  • Complete some cardio based exercise
  • Jump on a trampoline
  • Talk to a friend
  • Do something creative
  • Cuddle or play with pets
  • Go for a walk
  • Plan a fun activity
  • Look through old photographs or snap some new ones

Suggested Reading:

What is the Green Zone?

The Green Zone is used to describe when you are able to give your optimum performance. This zone should not be referred to as the “best Zone” because it isn’t always appropriate to perform at your best whilst in Green Zone. For example, if your child is about to compete in a football match then Green Zone feelings probably won’t help them perform their best. Equally, there may be situations in which your child should not be expected to be in Green Zone, such as when something upsetting or worrying has happened. However, if your child is sat listening to their teacher’s input and instructions, being close to Green Zone will help them listen and process new information. Being in the Green Zone means you are calm, focused, happy, or ready to learn. This is why it is important to have strategies to move closer to Green Zone when we are expected to be more focused or ready to learn.

How might your child be feeling in the Green Zone?

  • Calm
  • Focused
  • Happy
  • Content

What strategies do we implement in school to keep children in the Green Zone?

  • Implement daily sensory breaks
  • Sensory areas on the playground
  • PSHE (personal, social, health education) lessons
  • Mindfulness activities
  • Circle time
  • Use a positive behaviour policy
  • Encourage a healthy lifestyle
  • Teach children how to keep fit
  • Thoughtful sessions and sharing children’s opinions in assembly

What strategies can you use at home?

  • Self-care: treat yourself to a relaxing bath or a night off homework
  • Organise your clothes for school the night before to prevent stress
  • Spend time with your friends and family
  • Take time out to do something you love to do
  • Eat healthy and nutritious food
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Have the amount of sleep needed to feel alert and energised

Suggested Reading:

What is the Yellow Zone?

The Yellow Zone describes when you have a heightened sense of alertness and heightened heart rate.

Being in Yellow Zone is not a bad thing and you typically still have some control and can make sensible choices. Being in the Yellow Zone means you may feel frustrated, anxious or nervous. But, it could also mean you’re feeling excited, silly, or hyper – which is okay in the right situations. These are feelings and emotions however, that may make classroom based learning difficult for a child.

How would your child behave in the Yellow Zone?

  • Avoiding situations
  • Avoiding social settings
  • Biting nails
  • Sleeping issues
  • Tearful
  • Struggling to concentrate
  • Hyper-vigilant
  • Being impulsive

What coping strategies do we implement in school?

  • Breathing strategies
  • Mindfulness
  • Sensory and movement breaks
  • Remembering that they can ask for help to find useful strategies

What strategies can you use at home?

  • Breathing techniques
  • Take time out
  • Relaxing exercises
  • Keep a journal
  • Make a worry monster
  • Listening to calming music

Suggested Reading:

What is the Red Zone?

The Red Zone describes a highly heightened state of alertness and intense emotions. When a person reaches the Red Zone, they may feel like they have lost control over making helpful or good choices.

How may your child behave in the Red Zone?

  • Excessive outbursts
  • Fighting
  • Shouting
  • Irritability
  • Acting dangerously
  • Lack of control

What coping strategies do we implement in school?

  • Take time out
  • Use calming activities
  • Time to talk through our thoughts, feelings and behaviours
  • Breathing strategies

What strategies can you use at home?

  • Talk to an adult
  • Hug a teddy
  • Pop bubble wrap
  • Wrap your arms around yourself and squeeze
  • Write down what’s bothering you and rip it up
  • Squeeze a stress ball
  • Talk about it
  • Scribble on paper and crumple it up
  • Use breathing techniques
  • Do stretches
  • Listen to calming music
  • Take time out

Suggested Reading:

What can you do at home?

Talking through and pre-empting feelings:

Talk through the zones with your child. Ask them how their body might feel in each zone and which emotions are linked to each zone. Ask them to predict how they may react to particular situations, for example, ask them how they may feel and which emotions they may experience before attending a friend’s birthday party, especially if you are concerned they may find it challenging.

Here are some more suggestions for useful discussions to help develop your child’s awareness of emotional and self-regulation:

  • Discuss which emotion they might experience in each zone, for example, in the Yellow Zone, I may have feelings linked to worry because I am about to play in a football match.
  • Ask them how they physically feel when, for example, you see they are in Yellow Zone (I may have butterflies in my stomach or have sweaty palms if I am feeling nervous/worried/anxious).
  • Discuss how they might behave in, for example, Yellow Zone. Would they be pacing around, snapping at others, shouting, fidgeting etc?
  • Then discuss how to help them move closer to Green Zone in order to feel more in control of their choices. For example, if I was in the Yellow Zone and feeling nervous, I might find some breathing techniques help, and trying to think of the best outcome in a given situation may help me feel more in control and closer to Green Zone.
  • Create a list of strategies that work for your child. Remind them that we are all unique and the strategies which work for one person might not help another, so they need to think about what would best help them.
  • None of the Zones are “bad” and we experience each one throughout the day even as adults. Our aim is to learn how to manage how we react to our feelings and the emotions associated with each Zone.

Other suggested books:

  • Inside my heart and in my head... Feelings by Libby Walden
  • The Colour Monster by Anna Llenas
  • My Body Sends Signals by Maguire Natalia
  • Zones of Regulation by Leah M Kuypers

Suggested links to useful websites:

Cosmic Yoga