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Finding Your Zone of Regulation

Tracy Snead

Coordinator of Education/Principal, BCA

Tracy Snead has worked in education for 35 years. She has an MS in Exceptional Education, an MA in School Administration and an MS in Professional Counseling. Tracy has been at Bethel since 2017 and previously worked for the Wisconsin Education System. She and her husband John have been married for more than 30 years. They have two grown children and three dogs.


Family time is a gift, but in an extended time of quarantine together, things can get a bit stressful. Tempers can flare! And often, you or your children may not even realize what triggered an emotional response to begin with.

Here at Bethel Christian Academy, we use a color-coded chart so students can figure out where they are emotionally.  This model is  called the Zones of Regulation, and was created by Leah Kuypers, MA Ed., OTR/L.  

For children who have lived through trauma and now struggle with behavioral issues, it is essential. But even those of us dealing with the normal challenges of home, work, and school can benefit from knowing these zones and learning how we react in them.

According to research, this improved emotional regulation helps students pay better attention in school, avoid frequent melt downs, have better relationships with their peers and behave and learn better.



How It Works

When we see a child reacting it to an experience in a way that’s not socially tolerable, we ask them which of the color-coded zones they are in. When they become more self-aware of what’s going on inside of them, they can better learn and use coping skills to overcome emotional and behavioral issues.

It is rewarding to hear a student using this when they are feeling overwhelmed. As they begin to notice their reactions and the things that drive them, they begin to take control of regulating their own emotions.

As a result, we will hear statements like this from our students:

“I need to calm down. Maybe I should sit somewhere quiet for a few minutes.”

“I don’t have to react right away when someone says something I don’t like. I can think about it”

“Just because I think it doesn’t mean I have to say it out loud.”


Try It at Home

To get started, you might want to post the color zones chart on your refrigerator. You can download a printable pdf here: Color Zones

You can also check out resources on the Zones of Regulation website. Let me know what happens when you start asking each other what zone you’re in.  I’d love to hear about it!  Send me an email at


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