May 1, 2024Mental Health Minute with Ms. K and Ms. Hanley

The Window of Tolerance is a concept originally developed by Dr. Dan Siegel to describe the optimal zone of “arousal” for a person to function in everyday life. It offers a way of thinking about how we function, in our various roles, and how to manage when heightened emotions begin to have a negative impact. When a person is operating within their optimal zone they are better able to effectively manage and cope with emotions. 

Like everyone, children’s emotions fluctuate, particularly at times of stress and crisis and in the height of emotion, they find it difficult to express what’s happening verbally. Physiological and behavioral changes provide the information we need to understand and support them. 

When not in the optimal zone we are either in a state of hyper-arousal or hypo-arousal. Hyper-arousal is the result of the fight or flight response caused by excessive activation/energy. This may present as impulsivity, irritability, anger, aggression, anxiety, panic, etc. Hypo-arousal is the opposite of this and is a result of the freeze response which can present as numbness, depression, withdrawal, shame, difficulty thinking/ responding etc. 

Throughout the day we often move through periods of each state and this is completely normal. However, it can become problematic and harmful if we spend too much time in either hyper-arousal or hypo-arousal. We want to support children to spend as much time as possible in the Window of Tolerance. 

Here are some strategies to help your child get back to the “green zone”: 


  • Calm, quiet voices
    Drinking from a straw
    Progressive muscle relaxation 
    Remove any audience
    Breathing exercises
    Brisk walking/ marching on the spot 
    Stress ball
    Kicking or throwing a ball 
    Warm water 
    Soothing music 



  • Crunchy snacks
    Ice packs
    Scents (e.g. lavender)
    Holding a hand (if desired)
    Hugs (if desired)
    Weighted blanket 
    Small movements (wiggling toes) 
    Limit questions and conversation to reduce pressure
    Repetitive physical activity such as swinging, rolling, rocking 
    Play doh, slime or fidget toys

For more information on the Window of Tolerance click this link.

AdmissionsApplications to Aberdeen Hall are accepted year round and are increasingly competitive.

At Aberdeen Hall, we seek to admit well-rounded students who choose to be at our school. We are looking for students who demonstrate leadership through academic performance, involvement in co-curricular activities and civic engagement. We care about our students and seek those who value education and are prepared to enrich our incredible school community.