Chaplain’s Chat – Term 2 Week 9

Red Zone

The Red Zone is used to describe extremely heightened states of alertness or very intense feelings. A person may be experiencing anger, rage, explosive behaviour, panic, terror, or elation when in the Red Zone. Being in the Red Zone can best be explained by not being in control of one’s body. 

Parents often say that their children “lose it” and go into the Red Zone as soon as they get home. This is common because children are increasing their awareness of their peers and expectations when in the classroom. They make every effort to keep it together at school to stay in the Green Zone. Home is when they feel safe to let it all out. 

So, what strategies can help children deal well with their angry feelings at home? 

  • A quiet area – Plan ahead and talk about tools your child can use at home when they are feeling Red Zone emotions at home. These tools can be a quiet area at home inside or outside where they will be safe, however have space away from others. Your child’s safe space can include calming sensory tools to help your child to regulate their emotions. It’s ok to feel angry, encourage your child to take the time they need. 
  • Regulate vs Reason – Don’t attempt restorative conversations when they are in the Red Zone, as they are heightened cognitively and unable to reflect or learn. 
  • Modelling – Continue to model emotional regulation yourself; helping children see and hear from adults that all the Zones are experienced and are okay e.g. “I am feeling angry because…, I am in the Red Zone. I need some space to calm down. I’ll let you know when I’m ready to talk again.” 

Despite our best efforts, children developing their coping strategies is a journey with many ups and downs. It’s best for children to experience the natural consequences of being in the Red Zone. If a child’s actions/choices hurt someone or destroys property, they need to repair the relationship and take responsibility for the mess they create. Once the child has calmed down, the experience can be used as a learning opportunity to process what the child would do differently next time. 

This is the fourth and final zone to be covered. It’s been great writing them. Personally, I am more aware of my family’s strengths and weaknesses and what next steps are available. We have plenty to keep us busy.  

However, if you’re looking for more, you may want to consider a ‘Zones Check In for Home’. With holidays just around the corner, it might be a great time to start.