Zones Of Regulation Chart & Emotional Regulation Tools For Kids

Zones Of Regulation Chart & Emotional Regulation Tools For Kids

Zones Of Regulation Chart & Childhood Anxiety

Have a kid who melts down at the slightest frustration?  Or perhaps you have one that avoids anything and everything you ask them to do???

Wait… Is that you banging your head against a wall?  Ugh.  I hear you, Friend.  There is so much hope.  I promise.

We mommas love our kids fiercely.  But I’d be lying if denied how exhausting it is to constantly navigate our kids’ tantrums and meltdowns. For moms raising kids who have ADHD, Autism, or any other executive functioning issue, the stress can be a KILLER.  (For everyone, including our children.)

If we want to do more than just survive the hard days, we moms need backup.  We’ve got to be armed with resources to best support our kids (and our sanity). That’s why the Zones of Regulation chart can make a world of difference for everyone in the family.

Devotional Christian Special Needs Mom

UPDATED to include a selection of my favorite books to help children with emotional regulation.  

The best part?  They are all FREE with Kindle Unlimited.  (I use Kindle Unlimited EVERY.SINGLE.DAY- best investment ever!)  

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you which allows me to continue offering as much free content as possible. I appreciate your support.

Meltdowns & Big Emotions

Daily I hear from moms raising kids who are struggling in so many ways. 

  • meltdowns during homeschool,
  • anxiety and stress when asked to do any non-preferred activity (think chores or bathing),
  • sibling rivalry,
  • social anxiety,
  • impulsiveness,
  • Covid, anyone?

Whatever it is… moms and kids alike are being slammed with layer upon layer of stress.

How To Handle An Angry Kid, xones of regulation chart, books to support emotional regulation

We All Experience Anxiety

Throughout life, we have all at one time or another experienced some form of anxiety.

Often, we adults don’t respond to our anxiety in the healthiest, most appropriate ways.

  • We snap at our hubbies. 
  • Yell too loudly at our kids.
  • Shovel chocolate chips down our throat while hiding in the pantry… (Wait.  Is that just me?)

However we choose to release the tension, if we don’t identify the emotions and the causes behind it, we frequently end up in trouble.  That trouble may be a broken relationship with our hubby, a friend or our kids. 

Or… if you are in the chocolate chip shoveling crew (please tell me I’m not alone), your waistline and health take a hit.

Devotional Christian Special Needs Mom

Behavior is Information

Behavior is information.  It is a form of communication.

When our kids “act out,” they are actually trying to tell the adults around them something that they can’t easily vocalize.

Children often do not have the vocabulary to communicate effectively and appropriately.

Like our kids, we mommas we know the frustration when we can’t find a word.

zones of regulation chart, emotional regulation, christian mom

Jenny, Mike, Sarah, Sam…

(Quick… what 1980s movie is this from?  Be sure to comment below if you’ve know.)

Think about how often we have to run through all of our kids’ names (let alone our hubby’s and pets’ names) before we say the right one.  That alone can be so frustrating for adults.

Similarly, our children often become frustrated when they cannot communicate what’s going on inside of them.  They experience an “unsettling feeling” inwardly, but don’t have the experience or language to pin point it.

Without the ability to let it out verbally, our kids are going to act out behaviorally.

A Simple Tool Goes a Long Way

That’s why I LOVE the Zones of Regulation chart. 

We can use this simple visual tool to provide our kids (and ourselves) a way to identify and communicate what they are feeling.

In the Zones of Regulation chart, emotions and general mental states are identified by colors (or zones) that are easily identifiable.

Zones Of Regulation

The Zones of Regulation

The Zones were created by an occupational therapist and educator named Leah Kuypers, MA.Ed, OTR-L.  She has created an entire program often used in schools, mental health settings and in homes. 

I was originally introduced to the Zones by my son’s developmental pediatrician, Dr. Yasmin Senturias.  In those earlier visits with her, my son was so unregulated, agitated and hypervigilant.  He was all over the place.

To the untrained eye, he appeared to have classic ADHD.  (Note:  Anxiety in children can look IDENTICAL to ADHD.)

Because of this behavior and likely the horrified, exhausted and desperate look in my eyes, Dr. Senturias offered me lifeline of The Zones of Regulation.

Speaking from experience, the concept of the visual tool alone has been a lifesaver for my family.

christian special needs moms positive parenting course

Outward Behavior Not The Be All End All

When we notice children struggling with difficult behavior, it is crucial that we start challenging ourselves to shift our perspective about how to respond.   

If we only look at outward behavior at face value, we will likely not solve the actual problem. 

We need to look behind the behavior so we can help children identify their triggers.  Just like us, we need our kids to be clued into “what sets them off.”  More importantly, our kids need the skills to process those thoughts and emotions the next time.   Listen to episode 23 of the podcast, How To Parent An Angry Kid, for more support.

The Zones of Regulation chart will help you equip your child to understand these concepts in a practical way.

christian moms and teens

Willful Disobedience or Not Yet Equipped?

When a child behaves in a way that appears outwardly as disrespectful, adults have got to learn to pause.   

We’ve got to take a deep breath, step back and really think about what may be happening behind the behavior.  When we identify root issues, without getting “offended by” our kids’ behavior, we are then able to propel the needle forward.

Appropriate Emotional Self-Regulation

Think about this:  How many adults do you know that don’t know how to handle their emotions?

I would venture to say that we all know someone in this category. 

We all know with certainty, that every single one of us has experienced our own version of a temper tantrum (and will likely have another one).  We are just people, right?

The reality is that we fill our kids’ heads with a ton of information about math and reading.  However, we often fail to help our kids learn how to process through life’s tough situations.  

anxious kids, autism, adhd

ADHD, Autism, Or Any Uniquely-Wired Thinkers

For our children with ADHD, Autism, or any executive functioning struggles, it is even doubly important to equip them with emotional regulation skills.   

This will ultimately support them in their relationships now and in the future. 

We can set up our kids for life-long success by equipping them with the tools that they need to promote appropriate emotional self-regulation.

The Zones of Regulation & Your Mom Tribe

Friend, if you are anything like me, you know the exhaustion and overwhelm that comes with raising a higher-needs kiddo.

I did it alone for way too long and suffered for it.  Don’t make the same mistake that I did.  Whatever your situation, find community with moms who get it.   And have lots of fun too!

And grab your FREE 5 Day Devotional For the Weary Christian Mom.  I’ve written this devotional to equip and support the exhausted mom who has tried everything she knows to do as a good Christian momma. 

This is what I was looking for in my worst season of parenting my son.  When our days were filled with hitting, kicking, screaming, biting and scratching all.day.long. 

Be encouraged, Friend, there is hope.  Grab your free copy today and meet me in your Inbox every day for 5 days.   I promise, you will be encouraged and equipped.  

There is a better, more life-giving way to parent our uniquely-wired kids to thrive!  Promise.  

Listen to Episode 23 for more support & tools, Friend.  

Your child is a blessing to this world and has been created by God with gifts, passions and purpose.  Don’t lose hope.  Be encouraged!  We are in this together.  

Parent An Angry Raging Kid

Recommended Reading For Moms Raising Kids With ADHD, SPD, ASD (or No Acronym At All)

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook
Finger Play and Preschool Song Cards

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. I appreciate your support.

The Struggling Student & Visual Clutter

The Struggling Student & Visual Clutter

Meltdowns at the thought of “school”?

What does a sticky note have to do with meeting the needs of your struggling student?

Oftentimes, when a child resists school work, they often display their hesitation by shutting down, melting down or worse.  Parents can easily confuse this outward behavior as a willful act of disobedience or “laziness.”   If you are familiar with the mission at A Heart For All Students,you know that I have a different perspective.  I believe firmly that a child’s outward “negative” behaviors are a symptom of an internal problem.  

If a child repeatedly resists learning, I am convinced that this is an indication of a struggling student.  Our kids need us to equip them with what they need in order to learn.  Taking the time to seek the root cause of “poor” behavior is crucial.  Finding the real issue allows us to equip our kids with what they need to succeed.

visual discrimination, learning disabilities, learning challenges, dyslexia, adhd, homeschool

Algebra, word problems and two struggling students

Earlier this week, my daughter and I were working through some word problems in her online Algebra course.  We had just been introduced to a new concept and were slowly putting the pieces together. As we began to attempt to tackle the problems, she and I both began to feel frustrated and overwhelmed at the screen full of text.  

She and I had become, in that moment, two struggling students doing our best to navigate a new concept, read text and then correctly integrate the new material with the element of reading comprehension.

Enter in… a HUGE Post-it note.

Post-it notes & Learning?

Many children and adults struggle with visual discrimination. 

In layman’s terms, visual discrimination is the ability of the brain to tease through all of the input that it receives through the eyes. 

In any given moment, the brain has to process through and zoom in on that which is most important in the particular scenario.

Every decision takes mental effort

By covering up the majority of text on the screen, we were set up to succeed. 

Why?  We did not have to tease through unnecessary visual information in order to focus on what was crucial to the goal.  The goal at that time was to learn the new math concept.  In order to do so, we needed to set ourselves up for success.

In this picture, you see the accommodation that my 14-year-old and I made when having to process and learn a new algebraic concept.

christian moms and teens

Visual Discrimination & Learning

In the case of our algebra lesson earlier that week, when my girl and I became frustrated and snippy at one another, I took that as my cue that we both were struggling students and needed to pivot in some way.  

I grabbed a large post-it and covered the entire screen except for the first line of the first word problem.  

“Read it aloud and let’s process what it is saying,”

I took a deep breath and offered this suggestion to my girl.  Game changer!!!

All About Learning Press

Minimalism in Learning

How many blog posts, books and TV shows cater to this concept of minimalism?  Decluttering? Organization? The answer? Too many to count!

Why are these concepts so popular with adults, particularly adult women and more specifically moms?  

Because by simply removing visual clutter, we as adults find ourselves more peaceful and less anxious.

Visual clutter increases the need to tease through all of the information our brain receives from the environment.  This is an exercise that requires mental capacity.  Every mom knows that mental capacity is a limited resource that must be used wisely.

We must transfer this understanding over to how we equip and support our struggling students.

Homeschool ADHD Cheat Sheet

Remove the barriers

When a child is overwhelmed or feeling even slightly anxious about having to focus on a new or harder concept or skill, the last thing we want is to do is add barriers to learning. 

In the case of a child learning a new math concept or skill, having lots of text or math problems on a page can be a huge barrier to learning. 

What do we do to help our kids improve their skills, acquire and learn new information?  How do we help struggling learners to progress academically?

Take it one step, one line, one problem at a time.  

Instead of an entire sheet of 25 math problems, grab a blank piece of paper and write out one math problem in large text.  That one math problem on a clean sheet of paper is less threatening and now more accessible to your child. Anxiety lessens and the brain is then more available to learn.

I would rather a child do five math problems and learn for the long-term, than have a student fight through tears and stress to finish twenty-five and get only 70% correct.  Small chunks of  intentional teaching over time yield fruit, Friends.  

Our Journey Westward

Equip your struggling student 

The next time your child starts to melt down at the thought of reading or doing math, remember, “Remove the barriers.”

Grab a sticky note and cover up the majority of text on a page and read line by line.  

Write multiplication problems one at a time on a small whiteboard in LARGE text. 

Open The Doors To Learning By Removing Visual Clutter

Remove the barrier and don’t drain your child’s mental capacity by forcing his brain to wade through a bunch of visual clutter before he even attempts the new concept.

Your child innate fight or flight response will be lessened.  Her ability to receive and process new information will be freed up to actually learn and receive the concept. 

Before a child can ever do hundreds of math problems they must be given the opportunity to succeed at a few.  Slowly over time, you can increase the workload if necessary.  

Goals for our Struggling Student

In the end, always remember:  What is my goal?  What is the most efficient and peaceful way to hequip my child to learn and move onto the next level?

Do you have a struggling student?  A child with ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia or other learning difference?  A child who may need a more outside-the-box approach to education?

Your child can succeed when equipped based on his or her God-given wiring.  You will be blown away at how far your child can go when provided with targeted and intentional teaching.

He has a mighty plan for your child.  Never forget that.   You can do this, Momma! 

For extra support as your support your child’s education at home, check out this post of my top teaching tips.  

All About Learning Press
Dyslexia Screening Checklist

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. I appreciate your support.