Boys & Girls Club Blog

Club Members Learn Self Regulation Skills

For the past two years at the Boys & Girls Club of Oshkosh, the Trees from Seeds program has taken the steps to implement a program called Zones of Regulation throughout the Club with the intention to increase self-awareness about how one is feeling and behaving, and to have kids be more independent in using coping skills to better manage their behaviors, thoughts, and feelings.

The Zones of Regulation is a curriculum designed by Leah Kuypers, an occupational therapist and autism resource specialist, to help children self regulate their actions by teaching them to recognize how their body is feeling while being aware of their level of alertness in any given moment. Once kids are aware of their feelings and level of alertness, they can practice using coping skills to help them navigate the zone they are in to be more successful in a given situation.

The zones are broken into four colored categories, which makes the curriculum easy to understand for all ages. The zones, in order of alertness level (from low to high), include:

  • Blue Zone – low levels of alertness; some feelings include being tired, bored, or sad; and some difficulty of feeling in control of oneself.
  • Green Zone – medium levels of alertness; some feelings include being content, happy; and feeling in control of oneself.
  • Yellow Zone – medium/high levels of alertness; some feelings include being excited, irritated, annoyed; and some difficulty of feeling in control of oneself.
  • Red Zone – extreme levels of alertness; some feelings include being extremely angry, overwhelmed, terrified, and ecstatic; and having little to no control of oneself.

One thing that people often get confused about when implementing Zones of Regulation is that they use this as a behavioral guide and expect kids to be in the green zone and then discipline kids for being in the other zones. This is not intended for a behavioral guide, because it is normal that we all (young and old) experience a variety of zones throughout our day, and we differ in our ability to manage ourselves. Just like adults, kids have bad days too. It is important for them to learn how to help themselves in those moments so they can be successful at school, work, and in relationships.

A lot of kids are already learning about the Zones of Regulation in their schools, and that learning is reinforced at the Club during the fall semester when graduate students from the UW-Oshkosh (UWO) counseling department team up with the Trees from Seeds Case Manager. This team led a weekly program for one semester for the past two school years. The UWO students came to the Club and lead different activities with the children to teach the Zones of Regulation and to get kids practicing how to self-regulate. The Trees from Seeds Case Manager, Alicia Klein, provides ongoing emotion regulation support with children at the Boys & Girls Club by helping the children one-on-one to recognize how their body is feeling and what they can do in response to how they are feeling. Promoting emotion regulation and helping children self regulate has been and will be an ongoing goal for the Trees from Seeds team.

By: Alicia Klein, Trees from Seeds Case Manager