If you are a school-based counselor supporting children with their mental health, then you know that teaching COPING SKILLS is very important! Here is some information on how to run a coping skills group, and some fun activities that you can use with your students.
What are coping skills?
Coping skills are the methods a person uses to deal with stressful situations. Coping skills are needed for helping manage emotions during these stressful times so that our feelings do not overwhelm us, which can lead to mental health as well as physical health issue.
However, there are two types of coping skills,
Positive… and Negative!
When people, including children, use negative coping strategies, such as use of drugs and alcohol, poor eating habits, smoking, verbal aggression, or physical aggression, they will find that these are only temporary solutions to solving their emotional difficulties. Sorry bowl of ice cream.
Negative coping strategies, therefore, are mostly unhealthy habits and behaviors that provide a temporary emotional fix, but often further complicate or negatively impact the stressful situation or emotional difficulties of the person exhibiting them.
On the other hand, positive coping skills are healthy and solution focused ways for people, including children, to manage their emotions. This will lead to better problem solving ability and overall better mental health.
There are hundreds of positive coping strategies that people can use to manage their emotions. Some of them include activities, such as deep breathing, meditation, journaling, exercise, listening to music, doing a fun activity, and talking to a trusted person (friend or adult). Teaching children that they always have a choice in how they handle stressful situations, and that choosing to use a positive coping strategy is a better choice is the goal of your counseling.
Why you need to use ENGAGING Counseling Activities
There are many types of activities that you can do with your students in your counseling sessions to help teach kids coping skills. As a school-based counselor, I always use a multi-modal approach to all of my counseling that includes lots of videos, games, worksheets, and arts and crafts activities. This variety helps keep things novel and engaging, which helps them to want to leave their classroom and attend your counseling sessions week after week. Yes. Believe it or not, sometimes students would rather stay in class than get out to participate in their counseling.
By keeping things fun, you are likely to better help your students improve their coping skills and other mental health issues. In my experience, things that are not fun include weeks upon weeks of worksheets, especially ones that require writing on their end. Writing is for the classroom. Having them do a worksheet packets is not engaging and this may lead to lack of interest or learning about coping skills.
Kids also do not want to just sit and “talk” to an adult about what they are not doing right. Even if you have the best of suggestions and advice, they will not buy into it if it is just you, an adult, telling them what to do. They have to see it, practice it, and see that there are benefits to trying coping skills when faced with real-world scenarios that cause them stress or stressful emotions.
On to the Activities….
After years of making counseling games and worksheets for teaching coping skills, I finally got my act together and combined them into one Ten-Week Curriculum. The first week of any individual or group counseling is always rapport building. If you already have your own go-to rapport building activities, that’s great! This “All about me” worksheet is good for kids ages K-8 generally. However, you may have to write or help draw for your kindergarten students possibly. Here is the activity. Click on the picture if you’d like to purchase it as an individual product in my TpT store.
If you’d like to check out any other Rapport building Games or Activities click HERE!
Coping Skills Videos
When counseling kids, it is great to use media, including YouTube Videos. If you are not already doing this, you have my permission. It is good counseling. This is because videos provide instruction while generally being engaging for kids.
This trick is always to find the right videos for the right developmental age level. For example, cartoon or puppet videos are great for TK through 2nd grade, but older students may find them childish and feel like you are treating them like a “baby.” This will not build your trust or rapport with your students, which is the key to making progress towards their social and emotional growth.
Here are two of the five videos included in the packet:
These videos, and more, are included in the “225+ Counseling & Social-Emotional Learning Videos, ORGANIZED by TOPIC! Grades K-8”.
The videos that are organized by topic (Anger Management, Mindfulness, Emotions, Executive Functioning, Positive Thinking, Zones of Regulation, Social Media, Coping Skills, Growth Mindset, Improving Attention, Social Skills, Study Skills, Working in Groups, Transitioning to Middle School etc.). This list will hopefully save you hours and hours of research because I’ve already done it for you!
Coping Skills Worksheets
I tend to pair worksheets with a video or two because they are often a less preferred activity. This is because they will often require some writing or critical thinking, which is often less preferred of an activity for many kids.
As a school psychologist, in particular, my students often have academic deficits, which further increases their resistance to activities with a pencil requirement. However, the included worksheets in this packet are mostly matching, coloring, drawing, and one-word responses, which works for students K – 8 in my experience. If a student is resistant to any writing, you can always write for them. The important part is their comprehension of the information and their discussion about using coping skills in the future.
Here are two of the lesson-worksheets included in the packet for you to see:
Coping Skill Games
On to the games! Yes. Students mostly enjoy playing games in their counseling session. Sometimes girls prefer the coloring and art activities more. For the most part, however, kids like to play games because games are fun. There are four games included in the 10-week packet. All can be purchased individually, however, from my TpT store.
(Click on the game picture to learn more or purchase for your group!)
Here is another game to help students learn to manage BIG Emotions (Click on game to purchase):
If you would like to use the 10-Week Coping Skills Curriculum and Activity packet with your own counseling students, please click HERE. If you use and like the activities with your students, don’t forget to review it in Teachers pay Teachers for discounts on further products!
You Can Get Counseling Activities Today… for FREE!
If you are hoping to find not just inexpensive, but FREE Counseling Activities, then you are in the right place!
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If you are OK with spending $3-$5 on a few fun counseling activities for your students, please just click the pictures within this post and they will all link you to the product in my Counseling Fanny Pack of Fun store.