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Emotional Regulation

Does your child have difficulties controlling their emotions?

This is something that a lot of children struggle with. It can be hard for a child to express how they are feeling and their needs/wants. It can be extremely difficult if your child is nonverbal. Kids can have meltdowns and tend to lash out at times. As a parent, this can be upsetting and makes you want to lash out too! However, it is important to remember that there is a reason for your child’s behavior. Behind the screaming, yelling, and aggressive behaviors…there is something more. It can be hard at times to find the reason and understanding, but it is vital to try. Be willing to work with your child through their emotions!

Occupational therapy can help with regulating emotions as well. There is something called the zones of regulation that pediatric occupational therapy utilizes. Each zone has a color, and there are feelings associated with each color/zone. There is the blue zone, green zone, yellow zone, and red zone. Feelings associated with the blue zone

are sad, upset, tired, sick, or bored. Feelings associated with the green zone are calm, happy, and content. In the yellow zone you will find feelings such as nervousness, silliness, anxiety, worry, or stress. Lastly, the red zone includes feelings such as being mad, angry, and aggressive. It is important for children to learn these zones so that they can be able to identify which zone they are in daily. When you are aware of your feelings, they can be easier to control. With each zone you are in, there are strategies that can be utilized to help overcome these emotions. Strategies that may help in the blue zone are reading a book, listening to music, or sitting quietly by yourself. If you are in the green zone, keep on having a positive mindset! Do things that continue to make you happy such as playing outside, playing with a favorite toy, etc. When in the yellow zone, it may be helpful to go on a walk, take a break, and try to think happy

thoughts. Taking deep breaths, counting to ten, and talking with an adult can help if you are in the red zone.

If your child is struggling with their emotions, I encourage you to help them identify their emotions daily in order to be self aware. One suggestion would be making a daily chart for your child. Even something small just to hang on the fridge! Draw faces, write feelings, or color coordinate different feelings that can come with each zone. You can have a clothespin or get a pack of cool stickers your child would like. Have them assess and put where they are at each day with the sticker or clothespin. This can help you and your child be aware of their feelings. Encourage your child to change the placement if feelings change throughout the day. Encourage your child to be self aware before things get to the red zone. Emotional regulation

can be implemented at school as well. Talk with your child’s teacher about having a

strip/bookmark on their desk. Your child could use crayons and color on the strip/bookmark the color they are feeling associated with the zone they are in. Simple things like this could help everyone involved!

Occupational therapy practitioners are here to help talk with your child to help identify emotions and then implement strategies to help manage these actions and emotions.

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