Zones of Regulation & Childhood Anxiety

We mommas love our kids fiercely, but can become overwhelmed when our children struggle daily with tantrums, meltdowns as a result of stress and anxiety.  A simple tool such as the Zones of Regulation chart can make a world of difference for the entire family.

End of the Day Exhaustion

As moms we often long to crawl into bed at the end of the night.  Sadly though, when we finally climb into our cozy sanctuary filled with fluffy pillows and blankets, we spend way too much time anxiously trying to fall asleep.   

That is often because we mommas have lots of trouble settling our minds.  The reality is that we are simply so preoccupied with the demands of our day that we access that first “quiet” moment when we lie in bed.  

To settle your mind when you are in the thick of a tough parenting season is like trying to staple Jello to a wall.  It’s just not gonna happen.   

Meltdowns & Emotions

More and more I am being connected with moms who have children who are struggling in so many ways.  Meltdowns after school, anxiety and stress trying to get them to school, sibling rivalry, volatile behaviors, impulsiveness… whatever it is… moms and kids alike are being hit with layer upon layer of stress.

Several months ago I did a Facebook Live in my Private Facebook Group where I discussed a simple tool that can be used TODAY by any and all parents.  Moms, I would venture to guess that whatever the situation may be with your child, that this tool will be able to bring about some major peace and stress relief for your entire family.

Throughout life, we have all at one time or another experienced some form of anxiety.   Often, we do not respond to our anxiety in the healthiest and most appropriate ways. We snap at our hubbies.  Yell too loudly at our kids. However we release it, if we don’t identify the emotion and the cause of the emotion we are experiencing, we frequently end up in trouble relationally.  

What seems like the tiniest thing can get you or your child amped up.   However, it doesn’t really matter what the trigger is. I would argue that unidentified emotions is most often at the root of all childhood meltdowns or tantrums.   


The Zones of Regulation

This tool was originally created by an awesome lady and teacher named Leah Kuypers, MA.Ed, OTR-L.  Leah has created an entire program often used in school settings and at home.  I was originally introduced to this tool by my son’s developmental pediatrician, Dr. Yasmin Senturias. This is resource is phenomenal for children and families alike and has proven to be a lifesaver for my family.

When we notice our children struggling with certain behaviors, it is crucial that we as parents or teachers 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 behaviors and help children identify triggers. Not only do we want them to know “what sets them off” but also how to process those events and resulting emotions.   The Zones of Regulation chart will help you equip your child to understand these concepts in a practical way.

Willful Disobedience or Not Yet Equipped

When a child behaves in a way that may initially appear as disrespectful, for example, the adult needs to pause.    If we take a moment to really think about what is happening, we will likely be able to propel the “behavioral” needle forward if we approach the behaviors differently.


Behavior is Information

I am constantly telling those in my sphere of influence that Behavior is Information.  Behavior is a form of communication.

When children “act out,” they are actually trying to tell the adults around them something that they can’t easily vocalize.   Let’s call this “mind-mouth disconnect.”  Children often do not have the vocabulary to communicate effectively and appropriately, and therefore, they respond through frustrated behaviors.

The child typically has thought that they can’t put into words.  There’s someone or something that is stuck running around in their heads.  Because they don’t have the language and awareness to know that the sensations they feel can be named with a word, they become frustrated and confused. They don’t know exactly what or why they feel the way they do, but they recognize that they’re “off.”.  

The Zones of Regulation chart is a tool that can be used by parents and teachers to provide children with a visual representation of a variety of emotions and mental states.  These zones are identified and broken down by colors to use in everyday situations.   

Simple Yet Highly Effective 

It’s so simple to use.  Print it out and post onto your refrigerator for easy access throughout the day.   Talk with your child about the various zones.  Give your child examples of when you have been in the “red” zone or the “yellow” zone.  Use stories to further clarify.  At bedtime, ask your child what “zone” the character is in and why.  Make the “zones” a part of your family’s language.

By providing kids with the language and tools to verbalize what they experience internally, your child is set up for a life of social-emotional success.  

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.  Let’s set up our kids for life-long success by equipping them with the emotional tools that they need to promote healthy sense of self, which will only enhance interpersonal relationships now and in the future.  

The reality is that we can fill our kids heads with a ton of information about math and science, but if they cannot handle tough situations, they will likely be useless as adults.  

Check out this video teaching where I explain more about how to use this simple and yet effective teaching tool with your family.  The chart shown here was modified by me.  You can access all of Leah Kuyper’s resources and materials here.   

Video where I explain the Zones of Regulation Chart