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Sunnyfields Primary

Zones of Regulation

'Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it'.      Charles Swindoll


The Zones of Regulation is a concept to encourage the development of self-regulation and emotional control. Self-regulation is something everyone continually works on whether they realise it or not. Everyone will come across circumstances that test our limits from time to time. If we can recognise when we are becoming less regulated, then we are able to do something about it to manage our feelings and move in to a healthy place. This comes quite naturally to some, but for others it is a skill that needs to be taught and then practiced. This is the goal of The Zones of Regulation.

What are the Zones?

The Zones teaches self-regulation by categorizing all the different ways we feel and the states of alertness we experience into four coloured zones. It provides strategies to teach children how to become more aware of and independent in controlling their behaviour. Children learn to identify their feelings/level of alertness, understand how their behaviour impacts those around them and learn what tools they can use to manage their feelings and states.

The Four Zones: our feelings and states determine our zone.

The Red Zone is used to describe extremely heightened states of alertness and intense emotions.

The Yellow Zone is also used to describe a heightened state of alertness and elevated emotions. However, one has more control when they are in the Yellow Zone.

The Green Zone is used to describe a calm state of alertness. This is the zone where optimal learning occurs. (All children can achieve high standards)

The Blue Zone is used to describe low states of alertness and down feelings.

zone chart with pictures and emotion words.pdf

The Zones can be compared to traffic lights. When given a green light or in the Green Zone you are ‘good to go’. A yellow light means be aware or take caution, which applies to the Yellow Zone. A red light means ‘stop’ and when you are in the Red Zone this often is the case. The Blue Zone is like a rest area where you go to rest or re-energise.

Everyone will experience all of the zones at some time as this is only natural. The Zones enable children to recognise and manage their Zone based on the environment and its demands and the people around them.


When playing in the playground or in an active/competitive game, children are often in the Yellow Zone due to excitement/silliness but it may not need to be managed. However, if the child moves to the environment of the library where there are different expectations to the playground, children may still be in the Yellow Zone but have to manage it differently so their behaviour meets the expectations of the library setting.


6 sides of breathing

Lazy 8 breathing

My calming sequence

Understanding Perspective

Chart for placing tool cards

Tool cards for chart

Show times when you are in each zone

Visual showing how to use yellow tools

Chart showing zones

Cards for bingo game or recognising emotions

Bingo boards