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15 Engaging Coping Skills Activities for Kids to Build Resilience for Life

15 Engaging Coping Skills Activities for Kids to Build Resilience for Life
Picture of Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

Why are coping skills so important for kids? Well, life isn’t always a smooth ride as there will always be twists, turns, and loops. Practicing coping skills keeps them secure when the ride gets bumpy.

Kids face strong emotions and challenging situations daily, from school stress to friendship woes. Without the right coping strategies, these situations can feel like a never-ending circle of chaos. 

Resilience and its Importance in a Child’s Development

Resilience refers to your child's capacity to adapt to challenging or stressful situations. It’s the ability to bounce back when faced with adversity. As an adult, you already know how important it is to be able to ride the waves. Resilience acts as a protective shield that helps children navigate intense emotions and difficult situations more effectively.

Teaching your child healthy coping skills and practicing them daily allows them to develop mental resilience. Such resilience allows them to manage their own emotions, solve problems, and handle life's ups and downs in healthier ways.

Resilience fosters emotional regulation, an essential skill for navigating the rollercoaster of emotions. It also cultivates problem-solving abilities to enable your child to confidently tackle life's mysteries. 

As resilience grows, so does self-esteem because children gain a sense of accomplishment when they successfully overcome challenges. This, in turn, reduces anxiety and keeps the mind calm.  

Moreover, resilience is a building block for strong relationships. Children who possess resilience tend to communicate their feelings more effectively and establish more constructive connections with other people. Resilience equips children with the tools they need to thrive emotionally and socially.

The Benefits of Teaching Coping Strategies to Children

The Benefits of Teaching Coping Strategies to Children

 

There are many benefits to teaching positive coping skills to kids and teens. Note that it isn’t just about stress management, but more about equipping your child with tools to thrive. Here are a few of its many advantages:

  • Improved emotional regulation: Coping skills help kids navigate uncomfortable emotions like pros.
  • Better problem-solving skills: Even younger children can become mini-detectives, solving the mysteries of life one puzzle at a time.
  • Enhanced self-esteem: As they conquer challenges, their confidence will soar.
  • Reduced anxiety: Coping mechanisms are like calming strategy guides for the brain.
  • Stronger relationships: They'll learn to express themselves and connect with others in healthy ways.

Now that we're all on the same page about why this is so crucial, let's get to the good stuff – the 15 coping skills activities that will change the game for your child.

Coping Skills Activity 1: Mindful Breathing Exercises

Let's kick things off with a classic – deep breathing. Deep breathing techniques are the king of coping strategies. The next time your child's stress levels skyrocket, teach them the art of taking deep breaths. Inhale slowly, and exhale even slower. 

Mindfulness exercises can be a game-changer. It helps them stay calm even in very tough situations. One study on mindfulness shows that it may help young children in coping with stress (Kurth et al., 2020).

Coping Skills Activity 2: Creating a Worry Jar

Teaching Coping Skills by Creating a Worry Jar

 

Worries and anxieties love to creep into your child's mind at inconvenient times. But what if I told you there's a way to trap those worries in a jar? Create a worry jar together, where your child can write down their concerns and watch them disappear. 

Coping Skills Activity 3: Positive Affirmations and Self-talk

Positive self-talk and affirmations aren't just for self-help gurus; they're for kids and teens too. Encourage your child to repeat positive affirmations when they face challenges. “I am strong,” “I can do this,” and “I am loved” are like verbal armor against negativity.

Self-talk and positive affirmations are life-impacting skills that have the potential to change attitudes, reactions, and perspectives in regard to oneself, others, and our circumstances (Chopra, 2012). As I always say,

Your brain will believe anything you tell it

 

Coping Skills Activity 4: Art Therapy and Expression

When words fail, art speaks volumes. Get out the crayons, markers, coloring books, and paper, and let your child's creativity flow. Art therapy is a fantastic way for kids to express their big feelings, and it can be incredibly therapeutic.

Coping Skills Activity 5: Journaling and Reflection

Journaling is like a secret treasure chest for your child’s difficult emotions. Give your child a notebook where they can jot down their thoughts and feelings. It's a safe space to process their experiences and gain insight into their big emotions.

Coping Skills Activity 6: Physical Exercise and Movement

Physical movement isn't just about keeping those little legs active. It's a powerful coping strategy too. Regular exercise releases endorphins, as called mood-boosting chemicals. So, whether it's a dance party in the living room or a game of catch in the backyard, get those bodies moving!

Coping Skills Activity  7: Nature Walks and Outdoor Activities

Nature is a natural stress-buster. Take your child on a nature walk and let them explore the wonders of the great outdoors. It's a great way to connect with nature and find peace in the present moment.

Coping Skills Activity 8: Music Therapy 

Music is a universal language, and it can be a powerful tool for relaxation. Introduce your child to calming tunes along with some relaxation techniques like progressive muscle relaxation. Let their minds take a mini-vacation through music.

Coping Skills Activity 9: Role-Playing and Problem-Solving

Sometimes, the best way to tackle a problem is to play with it. Role-playing and any problem-solving board game are fantastic for teaching kids how to approach difficult situations with a can-do attitude.

Coping Skills Activity 10: Building a Support Network

No one is an island, and your child doesn't have to face challenges alone. Encourage them to build small groups of friends to serve as their support network. Include a family member and perhaps even a child therapist who can offer extra help when needed.

Coping Skills Activity 11: Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques like meditation and visualization are like mental spa days. Teach and practice these methods with your child to help them unwind and find inner peace, even in the midst of chaos. One study shows that relaxation techniques are as effective as other behavioral interventions to counteract and even abort anxiety reactions (Ost, 1987).

Coping Skills Activity 12: Emotional Regulation Skills

Negative emotions can be wild beasts, but your child can learn to tame them. Teach them emotional regulation skills such as recognizing triggers and using healthy coping strategies to manage intense feelings.

Coping Skills Activity 13: Gratitude and Appreciation

In the hustle and bustle of life, it's easy to forget the good things. Encourage your child to practice gratitude by keeping a gratitude journal or simply sharing what they're thankful for each day. It's a small act that can have a big impact on their emotional well-being.

Coping Skills Activity 14: Aromatherapy and Scent Sensation

Aromatherapy can be a delightful way for kids to de-stress. Introduce them to soothing scents like lavender or citrus. They can use essential oils or candles (with supervision, of course) to create a calming atmosphere. Taking deep breaths of these calming scents can work wonders in reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation.

Coping Skills Activity 15: Creative Cooking and Baking

Cooking and baking can be therapeutic for kids of all ages. Encourage them to get creative in the kitchen. Trying out new recipes and experimenting with ingredients not only engages their minds but also offers a delicious reward at the end. Plus, sharing their culinary creations with loved ones fosters a sense of accomplishment and connection. Cooking is a life skill that can double as a fantastic coping strategy.

Build Resilience Through Coping Skills Activities for Kids

Experiment with different activities and see what resonates most with your child. Remember, these aren't one-size-fits-all solutions. The journey to better mental health is an ongoing one. With these tools in your toolkit, you and your child can face it with hope, humor, and a whole lot of heart. To further help your child in their journey, integrate these coping skills activities with the BrainBehaviorResetTM. This program is a comprehensive, science-backed initiative that combines the power of natural solutions for brain health. It takes a multifaceted approach to address a wide range of challenges, particularly anxiety, mood disorders, and behavioral issues.

Parent Action Steps

☐ Start with deep breathing exercises and introduce a coping plan to your kid.
☐ Encourage daily positive affirmations and self-talk for self-esteem.
☐ Include art therapy and outdoor activities in their daily routine for creative expression.
☐ Embrace physical exercise and music therapy for mood regulation.
☐ Foster problem-solving through role-play and building a support network.
☐Teach relaxation techniques and emotional regulation skills to counter stressful events.
☐ Practice gratitude and appreciation to strengthen resilience.
☐ Take our Solutions Matcher to get personalized treatment for your kid.

Citations 

Chopra, K. (2012). Impact of positive self-talk. Opus.uleth.ca. https://opus.uleth.ca/items/2201b6f3-8711-445e-b63f-393047ac7139

Kurth, L., Engelniederhammer, A., Sasse, H., & Papastefanou, G. (2020). Effects of a short mindful-breathing intervention on the psychophysiological stress reactions of German elementary school children. School Psychology International, 41(3), 014303432090348. https://doi.org/10.1177/0143034320903480

Ost, L.-G. (1987). Applied relaxation: Description of a coping technique and review of controlled studies. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 25(5), 397–409. https://doi.org/10.1016/0005-7967(87)90017-9

Are you looking for SOLUTIONS for your struggling child or teen? 

Dr. Roseann and her team are all about science-backed solutions, so you are in the right place! 

Grab your complimentary copy of
147 Therapist-Endorsed Self-Regulation Strategies for Children: A Practical Guide for Parents

You can get her books for parents and professionals, including: It’s Gonna Be OK™: Proven Ways to Improve Your Child’s Mental Health, Teletherapy Toolkit™ and Brain Under Attack: A Resource For Parents and Caregivers of Children With PANS, PANDAS, and Autoimmune Encephalopathy.

If you are a business or organization that needs proactive guidance to support employee mental health or an organization looking for a brand representative, check out Dr. Roseann’s professional speaking page to see how we can work together. 

Dr. Roseann is a Children’s Mental Health Expert and Therapist who has been featured in/on hundreds of  media outlets including, CBS, NBC, FOX News, PIX11 NYC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Business Insider, USA Today, CNET, Martha Stewart, and PARENTS. FORBES called her, “A thought leader in children’s mental health.”

Dr. Roseann - Brain Behavior Reset Parent Toolkit

She is the founder and director of The Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health and Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, LLC. Dr. Roseann is a Board Certified Neurofeedback (BCN) Practitioner, a Board Member of the Northeast Region Biofeedback Society (NRBS), Certified Integrative Mental Health Professional (CIMHP) and an Amen Clinic Certified Brain Health Coach.  She is also a member of The International Lyme Disease and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), The American Psychological Association (APA), Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR) and The Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB).

© Roseann-Capanna-Hodge, LLC 2023

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