Coping skills are the behaviors and thoughts you use to regulate your emotions or deal with changes in your life. These strategies are best employed when you realize you are becoming too emotional or stressed before an outburst happens.
When an adult needs to calm down, they might go to the boxing gym, maybe have some wine, watch a funny TV show, call a close friend to vent, etc. Over the years, most adults have learned plenty of coping strategies that work for them personally when their emotions get too big.
Kids often don’t have these options, as their schedules and choices are usually dictated by teachers or parents. They often don’t have the choice to go run around when they are supposed to be in math class, or have a frame of reference for self-talk they could use to center themselves. But there are some accessible strategies that students can use to calm down no matter where they are. They just need to know what they are and when to use them.
Since kids don’t have a lot of freedom at school, make a safe space in your room to cool down and make it clear to students that they are free to use it. Make this a calming space with a comfortable seat, distracting items like paper and pencil to write feelings or a stress ball to squeeze, and posters or coping skills worksheets to remind students what skills they can use to calm down. Promote other strategies as well, like walking away when they feel they are losing control of their emotions.
In these printable coping skills worksheets, students will sort coping strategies into “smart” and “not smart” columns. Good coping strategies include counting to 10, positive self talk, and calming your body. Bad coping strategies would include stomping your feet, yelling at someone, or throwing something.
Bonus: For your kinesthetic learners, turn this into an active lesson! Label two buckets or waste bins SMART and NOT SMART, and write the coping skills for kids on pieces of paper. After students read the coping strategy, they should ball up the paper and shoot it into the corresponding bucket.