By: Mallory Bushee, MSOT, OTR/L
The Zones of Regulation is a wonderful curriculum designed by Leah Kuypers, a licensed occupational therapist which aims to help children better understand with emotions and develop self-regulation. The Zones categorize feelings and levels of alertness into 4 different sections: blue, green, yellow, and red. The lessons within the curriculum are very supportive in a child’s journey to build regulation, yet it can be a challenging concept to grasp, especially in times of extreme feelings or dysregulation. I have found that a visual of a Volcano of Feelings can be a very helpful aid to understand the varying levels of feelings we all may have within us and how our emotions are perceived by others. Pictures or words can be used to symbolize feelings and the visual can be customized to each child.
Once this range of emotions is better understood I like to add another visual to cue our kiddos when to pause. This pause provides the child with the necessary time to identify their current feelings and to implement a coping strategy to guide regulation to return to the optimal zone and more appropriately express the current thought or emotion. This will likely be one of the most challenging components of the journey to build emotional-regulation.