Coping Skills

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Learning Goal

Students will learn the value of coping skills and practice some.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the lessons, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate their understanding of coping tools and when to use them
  • Identify helpful coping skills they can use during difficult times
  • Discuss the importance of coping skills and the difference between healthy and unhealthy coping skills
Learning Summary

We all have ways we blow off steam, decompress, relax, let go, or deal with life’s difficulties through various coping skills but we aren’t born knowing how to cope! This lesson introduces students to coping skills and provides you with multiple options for activities.

The lesson starts with a Mindful Moment: students learn to count their breath to develop focus. The lesson then introduces students to the concept of coping skills and why we use them. As coping skills is a big topic for middle schoolers, the lesson plan then offers three options for you to select from that best fits your classroom. The lesson closes with a reflection in which students are able to journal some of their thoughts and what they would do next time during a challenging situation.

computer icon Online Teaching Tips for Coping Skills

If children are at home in a stressful situation, a lesson on coping skills can hit the spot! 

Students are more likely to have coping skills for using in their home than in class, so ask students to share what makes them feel calm in their home. When choosing coping skills to teach them, choose ones that require no or minimal supplies, such as breathing, lying down with a stuffed animal, taking a bath, etc.  

See lesson one on Mindfulness for some general teaching recommendations about doing live or recorded social-emotional lessons.

The Middle School Scenarios activity can work well online but unless you already have a strong culture around breakout rooms, simply read out the scenarios and have students chat in their answers then choose some students to explain themselves. One tip for chat use is to have students prepare their typed answers but not hit enter until you say “1, 2, 3, enter!” Then have students read each other’s answers and comment on ones they agree with by typing in “+1” and the author’s name, as in “+1 Darnell.”

Give students options of things they can do in their home as a coping skill and give them the assignment of doing at least one. Depending on the socioeconomic conditions of your students (or if you’re able to provide supply boxes), consider assigning students the task of making their own stress ball (see lesson plan for more details).

Ask students to send you a picture of themselves doing something calming, and create a document with all the pictures and share back to them.

CASEL Competencies

Self-awareness: The abilities to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior across contexts. This includes capacities to recognize one’s strengths and limitations with a well-grounded sense of confidence and purpose.

Self-management: The abilities to manage one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations and to achieve goals and aspirations. This includes the capacities to delay gratification, manage stress, and feel motivation & agency to accomplish personal/collective goals.