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  • Jenna Wonish-Mottin

Coping Skills for Emotional and Highly Sensitive Children



Many parents want to know how to help their children cope... or how to cope with stress themselves! Learning how to calm your body and your mind when overwhelmed, stressed, or upset is important for everyone. It is also important to teach young children this as coping with emotions is hard and something that has to be learned.


Coping skills can be a tool you use, an activity you do, or a way you think of a situation differently which are used in order to feel more calm and centered. Coping skills can be a completely new activity that you try, or can be something that you do regularly as part of your hobbies. It can help to do something that uses your strengths and abilities to help you feel capable, although it can also be rewarding and encouraging to try something new.


There are different types of coping skills. Coping skills should be soothing and relaxing, fun and distracting, something that uses a lot of energy, something that helps you solve a problem or change your perspective, or something that helps you to seek support or social interaction.


Some examples of coping skills you can teach your children and remind them to use when upset:


1. Deep Breathing – use a pin wheel, blowing bubbles, with a stuffed animal, with counting, deep belly breathing, focus on breathing

2. Practice mindfulness – pay attention to your senses and surroundings in this very moment

3. Practice grounding activities- name things around you or play I spy

4. Name things in categories (5 cities, 6 breeds of dogs, 7 colors, 8 names for boys, etc.)

5. Go outside, take a walk in nature

6. Toss or kick a ball

7. Imagine being in your favorite place. Describe it.

8. Guided imagery – picture yourself on the beach, floating on a cloud, etc.

9. Think about the people you care about and who care about you

10. Say the alphabet slowly

11. Doodle or color. Drawing using colors that match how you feel

12. Touch things around you and pay attention to your senses

13. Carry a small object that is soft, smooth, or something you like

14. Run cool water over your hands

15. Play with water beads

16. Take a shower or bath

17. Drink a cool glass of water

18. Make a fist and then release it. Tense other muscles and release them

19. Slowly count to 20 or as high as you can count

20. Find somewhere quiet or a way to block out other noises with ear plugs, etc.

21. Listen to relaxing music or your favorite song

22. Make and use a calming jar. Shake it up and focus on what you see while the glitter and other items fall down

23. Take a break from what you are doing

24. Play with a pet

25. Look at pictures of cute animals

26. Use kinetic sand, Play-Doh or other items to engage your senses

27. Watch your favorite video

28. Talk to a friend or family member

29. Dance to upbeat music

30. Do a craft or origami

31. Eat your favorite food

32. Do something you enjoy to distract your anxious thoughts

33. Tell yourself you are safe and calm

34. Rip up paper

35. Take Photos

36. Throw something soft

37. Go for a walk or a run

38. Paint

39. Wrap up in a soft, warm blanket

40. Make a list of things to be thankful for


Some coping skills will work in one situation, and others will work in a different situation. Once you or your child finds coping skills that work well for them, remind them to use them in an encouraging way. Talk to your child's teacher so they can also assist them in using these coping tools when needed.


If your child needs more help with managing emotions or overwhelm, talking to a counselor or engaging in play therapy could be the supportive opportunity your child needs. If you are interested in online therapy and play therapy for your highly sensitive child or teen, and are a located in Missouri or Texas, contact Calm Centered Counseling to schedule an appointment. www.calmcenteredcounseling.com #calmcenteredcounseling #HSPcounseling #childtherapy #copingskills #copingforkids #highlysensitivechild #sensory

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