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The Zones of Regulation

The Zones of Regulation


Social Thinking

Product Code: ISBN 13:
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The Zones of Regulation

By Leah Kuypers, MA, OT, Autism Specialist

New updated emotions illustrations!

Inclusivity and representation of all learners are important to us! We are pleased to announce that we have included a more diverse representation of characters within our Zones emotions illustrations throughout the 2021 printing of the curriculum book. While eight characters can’t possibly embody all the spectrum of humanity, we hope that learners see glimpses of themselves and those they know among this new cast.

The Zones of Regulation: A Curriculum Designed to Foster Self-Regulation and Emotional Control
This popular, easy-to-use regulation framework and award-winning curriculum teaches strategies for managing emotions and sensory needs to children, students, and clients ages 4+. Rooted in cognitive behavioural therapy, The Zones framework uses four colours to help individuals identify how they are feeling in the moment given their energy, emotions, and level of alertness, creating a coloured system to guide them to metacognitive strategies and tools to support regulation. By understanding how to read their bodies, detect triggers, think about the social context, and consider their reactions, individuals learn how to increase their ability to regulate their emotions, manage their sensory needs, and become more self-aware and skilful problem solvers. Activities and reproducible handouts and visuals are included in the curriculum along with instructions for digital access. All products which extend teaching about The Zones of Regulation require the use of this curriculum to teach with fidelity.

What are the Four Zones of Regulation?
Feelings come in different sizes, intensity, and levels of energy. To make this easy to talk and think about, we can categorize them into four simple, coloured categories that we call Zones of Regulation.

The Blue Zone describes low levels of energy and down feelings, such as when we feel sad, tired, sick, or bored.

The Green Zone describes when we feel calm energy and in control. We might feel happy, focused, content, or proud in the Green Zone.

The Yellow Zone describes when our energy starts to get higher, and our feelings get a little bigger. We might be feeling worried, embarrassed, silly, excited, frustrated, or wiggly in the Yellow Zone.

The Red Zone describes when we have extremely high energy and big, intense feelings. We might feel really, really happy or elated, really angry or furious, panicked, devastated, terrified, or out of control in the Red Zone.

All of the Zones are experienced naturally, and the framework focuses on teaching individuals how to recognise and manage their Zones based on their goals and task demands.

Learners explore regulation tools and strategies that can include mindfulness, sensory-based, movement-based, play-based, thinking strategies, wellness activities, and healthy connection with others. Learners negotiate which Zone(s) each tool would help regulate, building a system to use tools to manage a Zone or move from one to another. Ultimately, they create their individualised toolbox and develop a cognitive pathway or mind-map to guide them in regulating their Zones. Integrating cognitive behaviour therapy principles, learners build skills in consciously regulating their feelings and actions, managing their sensory needs, problem solving, and developing executive functions and social competencies. To deepen learners’ understanding of how to regulate, the lessons set out to teach a number of skills, including reading others’ facial expressions and body language, recognising a broader range of emotions in others and themselves, noticing the body signals that come with their feelings, understanding the context of the situation, insight into events that trigger their less regulated Zones, when and how to use regulation tools, and why regulation matters in relation to their overall wellness and personal goals. The framework is designed to help move learners toward more independent regulation while also honouring and respecting each unique individual. Concepts from the Social Thinking® Methodology are incorporated throughout the curriculum to help learners develop perspective taking, as well as understand the social context of a situation, both of which are factors that come into play when determining how to regulate oneself.

Who can teach The Zones of Regulation?
The Zones curriculum can be taught by anyone wanting to support individuals in fostering their regulation skills. This can include, but is not limited to, special and regular education teachers, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, psychologists, counsellors, behaviourists, social workers, and caregivers.

Who can benefit from The Zones?
The Zones curriculum targets learners who need support with self-regulation. Initially it was developed considering the needs and learning styles of Neurodivergent learners, but all kids can benefit from learning about their own emotions and tools. Everyone experiences difficulties in self-regulation from time to time. Because The Zones of Regulation curriculum provides a universal common language, consistent visual structure, and equitable support for all learners, many general education teachers have adopted it for use with their whole class.

Ages: 4+
Published: 2011

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