Helping our children move through their zones

Feb 22, 2021

Do you remember the zones? Have you tried it? Do you feel more mindful of what each zone feels like for you? 


Everyone is going to feel differently in each zone. I chatted with one mom who feels like green to her is happy and excited, where her energy and creativity lie. Another mom feels more calm and content,  while another may feel confident and self-assured.


Just like we will all feel differently in our green, yellow and red zones— our kids do as well. 


Once I became more mindful of my own zones and noticed them during the day, I then started to notice my children’s zones as well.


One of my sons is calm and chill in his green zone, another is energetic and bubbly, while my daughter is creative and happy. 


As I took several days, and even weeks, to notice them and their zones,  I realized I could help them regulate through their zones, just like I do with my own. 


I can hear, even from another part of the house, when my one son is in the yellow zone. His tone changes, he starts to get agitated, he bothers his siblings, he starts to get antsy and walks around a lot. 


When I recognized this, I could help intervene and find a good outlet for him: reading, snuggling, wrestling, jumping on the trampoline, listening to an audiobook, etc.  Helping him regulate back into his green zone instead of letting him spiral into his red zone. 


Then I sat down and talked to each of my children about zones. I asked what they think they would enjoy doing or would help them in the various zones. They each picked up a few regulating activities they enjoy… reading, dancing, listening to music, jumping, etc. We practiced these while they were feeling green and happy so that they would be more likely to engage in them when they became more agitated.


 (Note: It’s hard for them (and even us sometimes) to remember these strategies when we are in the red zone, and that’s okay. We can encourage them, but they may not want to do any of the things. That’s fine too. A simple visual with options for activities in each zone may be very helpful. This will not only help them learn more self-regulation but also limit confrontation - can you relate with not wanting someone telling you what to do when you’re in your red zone?!?). 


What is really interesting is that all of my kids, when they are in their red, often just want to be alone. They know that I am nearby, and I will check in with them to make sure they know that I am there for them. But all my kids in their red zone, initially want time to just sit and be mad (or scream and be mad!), then afterward, when they have had some time to release, I am able to re-connect. 


Re-connecting can look like snuggling, chatting,  reading a good book, or simply sitting side by side, taking some deep breaths- letting it sink in that all those big feelings – we survived them, they didn’t last forever. 


My children have been such good teachers to me about feeling our feelings. 


We will all feel red sometimes, and instead of just pushing it away and moving on, we can feel it. 


We can welcome it in, and sit with it. And when we’re ready we can watch it pass, as we release it. 


We don’t need to be afraid of those red times or think everything needs to be constantly green. We just need to be aware and know we have the tools to maneuver our way through. 


If we want our children to learn these tools, it always starts with us before them. 

(And if we’re really wise, we will watch and learn from them as well.)


Happy learning!


Crystal <3

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