Social Work Corner

November, 2015: Coping Skills for Student Success

What's the Big Deal?

Research shows that children and adults are more stressed today than ever before. Children are particularly at risk for the negative impact of chronic stress. Prolonged stress is proven to have a negative impact on the brain, body, and overall health. Stressed students are not good learners. Often, students that lack coping skills to manage the stress in their lives exhibit problematic and disruptive behaviors in the school environment. Teaching and modeling positive coping skills can help reduce student stress and improve overall learning.

The Basics of Coping

Coping Skills are defined as methods a person uses to deal with stressful situations.

  • Everyone uses coping skills on a daily basis to manage stress, emotions, and difficult situations.
  • Using healthy coping skills takes practice, but it becomes easier over time.
  • As children grow, they are developing their own patterns of coping. It is important to help students develop good coping patterns to manage the stress in their lives. The coping skills they use now will likely follow them into adulthood.
  • Good coping skills help to reduce stress and improve overall mental health and wellness.

Benefits of Teaching Coping Skills

  • Improve student self confidence
  • Increase instruction time (less time managing problem behaviors)
  • Foster student independence
  • Teach lifelong skills
  • Empower students
  • Behavior improvements
  • Increase problem solving skills

Ways to Incorporate Coping Skills in the Classroom

Be an Example of Positive Coping

  • Demonstrate and model healthy coping skills in the classroom.
  • Kids learn a lot by watching you. They notice how you manage your emotions. Model healthy coping skills when you deal with difficult situations, feelings, and emotions in the classroom. This is a wonderful example to students.
  • Use a calm tone. Be firm when necessary and set boundaries.

Be Present and Show Understanding

  • Model active listening skills. Often, student just need to be “heard”. This will help them feel understood.
  • Ask related questions and help students think of positive next steps.

Give Words to Feelings

  • BIG emotions can be scary for kids. Often they result in strong reactions. Helping students learn to identify and talk about their feelings can make them feel like their emotions are more manageable.
  • Look at what happened right before the feeling started. Sometimes kids just need a different perspective or better understanding of the situation.

Encourage Healthy Ways of Coping

  • Help students explore appropriate ways to cope.
  • When they start to get upset, ask them to take a break with a calming activity that works for them.
Coping Strategies for Everyone
  • Exercise
  • Walk away
  • Draw/doodle
  • Take a bath or shower
  • Cook or bake
  • Do something to distract yourself
  • Make an action plan
  • Do something you enjoy
  • Play a game
  • Spirituality
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Call a friend
  • Stretch
  • Talk to a trusted person
  • Read Journal
  • Listen to music
  • Mediation
  • Play with a pet
  • Take several deep breaths
  • Watch a TV show or movie
  • Ask for Help
  • Practice and prepare for new situations
  • Get a drink of water
  • Write a poem

Seek Help When Needed

  • Utilize support resources. If you are concerned about a student, talk to their guidance counselor or fill out a SAP referral.

Additional Resources