Coping Skills for Kids: 8 Effective Exercises to Practice

By Quinn Weisensee, LAC | March 08, 2024

We all need coping skills to help us through the ups and downs of our lives, so it is important to have a well-equipped toolbox! Coping skills can be anything from exercise to deep breathing, depending on the need. Learning to listen to our bodies about what we need is a skill that will go a long way! Parents can help children by teaching them how to identify their physical and emotional needs so that they can know which coping skills may help them in a moment of dysregulation.

Here are 8 options for coping skills that may be useful for your child!

1. Exercise/movement

  • Walking, biking, jumping, swimming, or getting the body moving helps with processing and regulation (Sussex Publishers, n.d.)

2. Mindful stretching

  • This helps with slowing down and noticing what the body is experiencing. It helps with control and with noticing where tension might be held in the body.
  • Here is a YouTube video to help practice this skill https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0_KxGuaSBQ

3. Art project

  • Art is a great way to express feelings and there are many different mediums of art. This could be dance, painting, pottery, knitting, and more (Klammer, n.d.).

4. Deep breathing

5. Deep pressure

  • This is a great way to relax the body! This can be done by using weighted blankets, bear hugs, being wrapped in a blanket like a burrito, massage, etc. (Harkla, n.d.)

6. Music

  • Music is a powerful tool for regulation. Binaural beats are a type of music specifically designed to calm the nervous system (Psychology Today, n.d.).

7. Smelling good smells

  • Scent is a great tool to use for grounding. Choose a calming essential oil and put it on your wrist when you need an extra boost to re-regulate.

8. Progressive muscle relaxation

  • This is a good one if you are holding a lot of tension, as it provides an opportunity to relax (Cleveland Clinic, 2023).
  • Here is a YouTube video to help practice this skill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nZEdqcGVzo

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We all need coping skills to help us through the ups and downs of our lives, so it is important to have a well-equipped toolbox! Coping skills can be anything from exercise to deep breathing, depending on the need. Learning to listen to our bodies about what we need is a skill that will go a long way! Parents can help children by teaching them how to identify their physical and emotional needs so that they can know which coping skills may help them in a moment of dysregulation.

Here are 8 options for coping skills that may be useful for your child!

1. Exercise/movement

  • Walking, biking, jumping, swimming, or getting the body moving helps with processing and regulation (Sussex Publishers, n.d.)

2. Mindful stretching

  • This helps with slowing down and noticing what the body is experiencing. It helps with control and with noticing where tension might be held in the body.
  • Here is a YouTube video to help practice this skill https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0_KxGuaSBQ

3. Art project

  • Art is a great way to express feelings and there are many different mediums of art. This could be dance, painting, pottery, knitting, and more (Klammer, n.d.).

4. Deep breathing

5. Deep pressure

  • This is a great way to relax the body! This can be done by using weighted blankets, bear hugs, being wrapped in a blanket like a burrito, massage, etc. (Harkla, n.d.)

6. Music

  • Music is a powerful tool for regulation. Binaural beats are a type of music specifically designed to calm the nervous system (Psychology Today, n.d.).

7. Smelling good smells

  • Scent is a great tool to use for grounding. Choose a calming essential oil and put it on your wrist when you need an extra boost to re-regulate.

8. Progressive muscle relaxation

  • This is a good one if you are holding a lot of tension, as it provides an opportunity to relax (Cleveland Clinic, 2023).
  • Here is a YouTube video to help practice this skill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nZEdqcGVzo

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References

100 art therapy exercises – the updated and Improved list. The Art of Emotional Healing by Shelley Klammer. (n.d.). https://www.expressiveartworkshops.com/expressive-art-resources/100-art-therapy-exercises/

Binaural beats | psychology Today. (n.d.). https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/binaural-beats

Cleveland Clinic. (2023, December 18). Relax your way to better sleep (and more). https://health.clevelandclinic.org/progressive-muscle-relaxation-pmr

Harkla. (n.d.). The Ultimate Guide to Deep Pressure therapy. https://harkla.co/blogs/special-needs/deep-pressure-therapy#:~:text=Increases%20In%20Endorphins%20and%20Neurotransmitters,and%20help%20with%20mood%20regulation.

Sussex Publishers. (n.d.). One incredibly easy way to improve your emotional regulation. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201604/one-incredibly-easy-way-improve-your-emotional-regulation

References

100 art therapy exercises – the updated and Improved list. The Art of Emotional Healing by Shelley Klammer. (n.d.). https://www.expressiveartworkshops.com/ expressive-art-resources/100-art-therapy-exercises/

Binaural beats | psychology Today. (n.d.). https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/ basics/binaural-beats

Cleveland Clinic. (2023, December 18). Relax your way to better sleep (and more). https://health.clevelandclinic.org/progre ssive-muscle-relaxation-pmr

Harkla. (n.d.). The Ultimate Guide to Deep Pressure therapy. https://harkla.co/blogs/special-needs/deep-pressure-therapy#:~:text=Increases%20In%20End orphins%20and%20Neurotransmitters, and%20help%20with%20mood%20regu lation.

Sussex Publishers. (n.d.). One incredibly easy way to improve your emotional regulation. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us /blog/the-athletes-way/201604/one-incredibly-easy-way-improve-your-emotional-regulation