Coping Skills Activities

Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

Coping skills are something that can benefit students of all ages. Even adult struggle to cope sometimes. Check out these types of activities for improving coping skills.

Coping Skills Activities

Life can be tough. When you least expect it, life can throw a curveball in your direction. One of the differences between children and adults is their ability to deal with situations as they arise, both to adapt to them, and to cope with the emotional fallout that follows. These are coping skills, and contrary to popular belief they can be promoted and taught. In this lesson, we're going to go through some possible types of activities that will help students develop coping skills.

Mindfulness and Relaxation Activities

Even for adults, being able to move past a strong emotion to a state of calm awareness is difficult. Things that can help with this include mindfulness and relaxation. Therefore, one activity is simply to provide students with practice in various mindfulness and relaxation exercises. These include audio recordings which step students through mindfulness or relaxation, deep breathing instruction, and progressive muscle relaxation. Mindfulness is particularly useful, because it allows people to look at their emotions in a more detached way, note them and why they exist, and then put them to one side when needed.

You can also have students create a relaxation box. This is a box that students can open when they are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, and which contains objects that will help them. Relaxation boxes can include stress toys, rain sticks and other relaxing sound makers or recordings, soft toys, sensory balls, music tracks, and distractions like puzzles or crafting materials.

Communication Skills Activities

For students to cope with specific issues they might face in life, communication skills can be a big benefit. We can have students practice these by including activities that involve role-playing, public speaking, group work, reflecting, and sharing emotions and thoughts with classmates.

Emotion Management Activities

When strong emotions arrive, they can take a person over and be all consuming. It's important to be able to manage our emotions, to process them quickly and efficiently, and be able to do what we need to do.

There are many possible emotion management activities. You can have students do a paper toss, where they write negative feelings, thoughts, and experiences on a piece of paper, screw them up, and throw them in a trashcan from a distance. You can make a game out of this, with students scoring points for successful throws. You can have students create an anger tornado, where they put drops of food coloring to represent emotions (each emotion a different color) in a bottle half filled with water, and spin it to form a tornado. This represents how emotions can spiral out of control and create a figurative tornado in our minds. Students can also watch as the tornado settles to form calm waters again. You can even have students create sets of coping cards, listing possible activities they could take part in when they are feeling each emotion - activities they believe would help them.

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