If you’re looking for ways to incorporate coping skills for kids into your students’ everyday lives, you’re in a good position to do so as a counselor. Those precious (few) hours that you’re able to make an impact is just enough time to incorporate coping activities into your students’ lives.
Self-regulation and the ability to self-soothe are functions that will serve your students throughout some of their most difficult life moments. They may not know it today or tomorrow, but they’ll have you to thank for keeping them cool as a cucumber when things get uncomfortable.
Why Teach Coping Skills to Kids?
When kids are stressed, worried, or afraid, it becomes difficult to perform daily functions. This includes studying, test-taking, and even listening in the classroom.
Coping skills come in handy during these situations because they help children lessen the overwhelm during high-stress, emotional, moments.
Instead of allowing their thoughts to run away with them, and dwell on negativity, children can learn to work through the uncomfortable emotions they’re feeling. This allows them to return to the present moment and continue participating in their daily routines.
In other words, students will cope with what’s bothering them and get back to a manageable level of stress (or eliminate it altogether).
What Are Coping Skills?
Coping skills are activities we call upon to manage our mental health when it’s met with stress and anxiety.
Instead of feeling as though we, or our students, don’t have control over how we’re feeling during a high-stress situation, we can learn to take action by using coping skills.
How to Teach Coping Skills to Students
The good news is, teaching coping skills to kids at an early age is easier than teaching an adult to cope with anxiety.
This is due to the sponge-like learning abilities the developing brain is open to. In other words, the child’s mind is ready to soak up knowledge…knowledge that they’ll carry with them their entire lives.
You can promote coping skills by providing students with a list of skills to refer to when they’re feeling overwhelmed. Another option is to post a sign, with ideas for calming down, in a high traffic area (or calm down corner) can be an easy way to meet students where they’re at.
It’s also important to note that each student will connect with a coping skill that works best for them, so never try to force an activity on a student.
A-Z List of Coping Skill for Kids
Activities for coping skills to teach your students are endless. To make things a little easier and readily available, I’ve put together this list of tips for self-soothing activities and mantras (and, of course, it’s alphabetized for easy reference!)
Tell your students to:
Accept – Accept yourself and others the way you are now. Love yourself.
Breathe – Focused breathing exercises for your health help bring you back to the present moment.
Chat – Talking to others helps release anxiety.
Dance – Movement is good for your mind and body (dance like nobodys watching)!
Eat right – And try new types of foods to keep life interesting.
Forgive – Yourself and others… let it go, release the negative energy from your body.
Ground Yourself – Be where your feet are. Think about what you see, smell, hear, taste, and feel right now. Don’t worry about the past or future.
Hug it Out- Hugs have healing powers. Research shows you need hugs.
Imagine – Use your imagination to visualize a positive outcome.
Journal – Keep a journal of your thoughts and blessings.
Kindness – Kindness feels good. Try random acts of kindness or a kindness notebook.
Laugh – Humor is a great coping skill. Look for things that make you laugh and write them down for later when you need to smile.
Make Something – Creating something new gives you a sense of accomplishment.
Nature – Get Vitamin D from the sun, spend time with animals, take nature walks. Take note of what you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel.
Organize – Feel better about your space! A clean space means an uncluttered mind.
Play Music – Find songs that remind you of good times
Quiet Time – Turn down the noise around you…and in your head.
Routines – Establish routines to relieve anxiety. You’ll always know what to expect.
Smell – Light a candle, sniff flowers, or lavendar. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Tech Break – Put away technology and take note of things happening around you (the real world).
Unwind – Find a cozy spot to clear your mind. Relax. Breathe.
Volunteer – Ask how you can help others… it will help you too.
Walk – Get moving, notice sights and sounds. Let go of worries of the past and present.
X-ray thoughts – Filter out negative thoughts (don’t believe every thought you have).
Zzz’s – Take naps and get enough sleep for optimal health
The list truly goes on and on. And each student will respond differently to each activity. Grab this free activity (in ph9to below) to use with students. The key is to teach your students to choose the skills that work for them and to refer back to them when they’re feeling out of control.