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Zones Of Regulation & Childhood Anxiety

Do you have a kid who melts down at the slightest frustration?  One that avoids anything that you ask them to do???  

Ugh.  I hear you.  

We mommas love our kids fiercely, but can become overwhelmed when our children struggle daily with tantrums and meltdowns.

For moms raising kids who have ADHD, Autism, or any other executive functioning difference, this stress is often heightened.

A simple tool such as the Zones of Regulation chart can make a world of difference for the entire family.

This is why it is so important for moms to be armed and equipped with resources to best support their families and uniquely-wired children.

Meltdowns & Emotions

More and more I am connecting with moms who have children who are struggling in so many ways. 

  • Meltdowns during homeschool,
  • anxiety and stress when asked to do any non-preferred activity,
  • sibling rivalry,
  • social anxiety,
  • impulsiveness…

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

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We All Experience Anxiety

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 the tension, if we don’t identify the emotions and the causes behind them, we frequently end up in trouble relationally.

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.

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Behavior is Information

Behavior is information.  It 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.

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.

Jenny, Mike, Sarah, Sam…

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 a simple visual cue like the Zones of Regulation chart can be used by parents and teachers to provide children with a way to communicate a variety of emotions.

Emotions and general mental states are identified and broken down by colors (or zones) to use in everyday situations.

Zones Of Regulation

The Zones of Regulation

This tool was originally created by an awesome occupational therapist and teacher named Leah Kuypers, MA.Ed, OTR-L.  She has created an entire program often used in school settings and at home. 

I was originally introduced to it by my son’s developmental pediatrician, Dr. Yasmin Senturias. This is phenomenal for children and families alike.

Speaking from experience, it has proven to be a lifesaver for my family as well.

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

Outward Behavior Not The Be All End All

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.  We want them to know “what sets them off.”  More importantly, we want them to know how to process those thoughts and emotions the next time. 

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 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 our kids differently.

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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.  

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 also support them in their interpersonal relationships now and in the future.

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

How about you, Sweet Friend?  Have you tried the Zones of Regulation chart?  Or what tools have you found helpful in your family?  Comment below.

For more information as to how to support your child gifted with the ADHD brain, check out this post about supporting the ADHD brain in learning.

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Private Community of Moms

Friend, I encourage you to join the AHFAS Private Facebook Group.

In it, you will find a tribe of moms who are safe to process through the stress of the daily meltdowns.

Whatever your situation, find community with moms who get it.   We know what it is like to navigate a higher-needs child and have all felt the isolation that comes from it.

None of us should do it alone.

And if you can tell me what classic 80s movie reference I quoted in one of the heading topics, please comment below!  Hint…

“Jake Ryan.  He is a senior.  He doesn’t even know you exist.”

Anyone?  Bueller?  Give it a guess.  Comment below.  

And check out this post about how you can get the attention of your ADHD kid.  These ADHD tips help with homeschooling (and getting them to do their chores as well.)

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