It’s a yellow/blue kind of day. I woke up feeling blah, and I’m not sure why.
Maybe it’s because I didn’t sleep well. Maybe it’s the donut I ate for breakfast. Maybe it’s the busy day I had yesterday at the pool.
Whatever the reason, I’m glad to be able to use the Zones of Regulation. They help me acknowledge how I feel and give me actionable steps to fix my day and prevent me from going into the angry zone.
I discovered the Zones of Regulation a few years ago. My son’s speech, occupational and behavior therapists encouraged us to use the Zones as part of our behavior toolbox. With the Zones, my son can figure out how he’s feeling. That’s the first step to regulating his behavior and helping him stay on an even keel so that he can learn.
Over the years, I’ve adopted the Zones, too. After all, I have emotions like my kids do. Plus, I can’t parent well if I’m not taking care of myself. Especially in the past few months, I’ve been using the Zones to keep in touch with my emotions and process my feelings.
What are the Zones of Regulation?
According to the Zones of Regulation website, the Zones is a “systematic, cognitive behavior approach used to teach self-regulation by categorizing all the different ways we feel and states of alertness we experience into four concrete zones. The Zones curriculum provides strategies to teach students to become more aware of, and independent in controlling their emotions and impulses, managing their sensory needs, and improving their ability to problem solve conflicts.”
In a nutshell, the Zones help us figure out how we’re feeling. They also give us tools to help us manage and regulate our emotions. It’s a tool many therapists use, and it’s been a beneficial tool in our home.
Think of the Zones as Traffic Signals
In an ideal world, everyone would be in the Green Zone all the time. As we all know, though, emotions change. Sometimes, we can go from Green to Yellow in a matter of seconds. Don’t believe me? Try saying no to a toddler and watch them change from cooperative to obstinate in a hurry!
That’s where the Zone traffic signals come into play. Like traffic signals tell you how to drive on the road, we use traffic signals to identify our Zones.
Green means you’re good to go. In the Green Zone, run errands, clean the house and play games without worrying that someone will be overwhelmed, throw a fit or object to the activity.
Yellow cautions you to be aware. Slow down and take a few minutes to identify how you’re feeling. Then take steps to address the anxiety, get out the wiggles or deal with nervousness so that you can move forward.
Blue gives you an opportunity to rest or re-energize. Take it easy, rest and relax.
Red means stop. Make sure everyone is safe and step back. Don’t push, prod, nag or move forward until you have calmed down and are out of Red.
What Zone are you In?
The Zones of Regulation are a constant part of my family’s daily routine. We often ask each other, “What Zone are you in?” It helps us figure out where we’re at emotionally. Depending on the Zone we’re in, we can change our schedule or use other coping strategies like exercise or games to help us calm down, rest or feel better.
The Zones help my family, and they can help your family, too. Take a look at these resources for more information.