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Zones of Regulation

Have you ever heard your child say they are in the “red zone”? You may be wondering what they are referring to. The zones of regulation are four zones that occupational therapists often use to teach children emotional regulation. These four zones are identified by the colors blue, green, yellow, and red, and each reflects certain emotions and feelings. The blue zone is associated with feelings of sadness, sickness, tiredness, boredom, and moving slowly. The green zone is associated with feelings of happiness, calmness, feeling okay, focused, and ready to learn. The yellow zone is associated with feelings of frustration, worry, silly/wiggliness, excitement, and loss of some control. The red zone is associated with feelings of madness, angriness, yelling/hitting, and out of control (Kuypers, n.d.) These zones help children label an emotion to a zone and use a mechanism associated with the zone to bring them back to the green zone, the optimal zone to be in. Common mechanisms are figure-eight breathing, wall push-ups, clapping of hands, chair push-ups, stomping of feet, and talking with an adult or friend. These zones can help children regulate their emotions to stay in the optimal zone for function and make appropriate choices to support their goals.


Kuypers, L. (n.d.) How we think about and manage our feelings and state. The Zones of Regulation.

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