Sometimes, we have light bulb moments.


One day, while I was working with a group of kids talking about different kinds of coping skills, I had one of those light bulb moments. As we were talking about when they would use the different skills we were discussing, I realized that all of the skills could be put into categories.

​Relaxation Coping Skills are designed to help your kiddo relax. For example:

  • Taking deep breaths
  • Grounding techniques
  • Think of your favorite place
  • Take a break
  • Positive self-talk

Distraction Coping Skills are designed to distract children and keep their attention when they might otherwise be focused on a certain stressor. A few ideas are:

  • Doing something kind for someone else
  • Baking or cooking
  • Playing a game
  • Drawing
  • Writing a story
  • Plan a fun event

​Movement Coping Skills are designed to help children re-balance their energy, either to energize them or to help them manage their excess energy in their body. Things kids can do are:

  • Jumping on a trampoline
  • Taking a scooter ride
  • Doing simple exercises
  • Going on a walk
  • Go swimming

Processing Coping Skills are designed to help kiddos work through thoughts and feelings they may have about challenging situations. Some suggestions are:

  • Make a worry box
  • Write poetry
  • Use a journal
  • Use a feelings thermometer
  • Create a playlist to listen to

​Sensory Coping Skills are designed to help children calm down using their sensory systems, by doing things like:

  • Turning upside down
  • Using a body sock
  • Using a weighted item like a stuffed animal or a lap pad
  • Eating something crunchy
  • Using mermaid fabric

It’s important to have several different coping skills that you can help your child in a variety of settings. Different types of coping skills will work at different times. For instance, if a child’s coping skill is putting his/her head down and closing his/her eyes for a few minutes, that works great at home. But if he’s/she’s in the middle of English class, that will probably not go over too well.

It’s also important to try coping skills before passing on them. You never know what will resonate. What doesn’t work at one time may work at another. Encourage your child to give any coping skill a try at least once.

Sometimes, children need more explicit instruction to help figure out what works for them and what doesn’t. Or maybe they’re experiencing an incredibly challenging period of their life and need to add more coping skills to their repertoire to adapt. That’s when we, as the adults, try to teach them healthy ways to cope with their feelings.

Where do I begin?

Start small – Identify one new coping skill to try per week. Try it when they’re calm and see how it feels.

Don’t give up– A child may try a skill and hate it. Don’t give up and think they won’t ever have coping skills. Try that skill again a few more times. And if they still hate it, move on to a different skill.

Begin with what they love– What do they enjoy? What do they love to do in their free time? Those activities are the beginning of making a good list of coping skills.

You’re already an awesome mom but we’ve got some tips to make your life as a little easier. Take our two minute quick quiz to discover your cool-mom superpowers and which celebrity mom you align with most. It’s super fun!

Loretta Holmes, M.A. ET  is a special education teacher turned Educational Therapist and NLP Practitioner at Bella Coaching Services.  Today, she combines her skills in teaching, psychology, and coaching to little humans and their families so they can skyrocket their lives!

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