Stress can negatively affect children as well as adults. While adults have already discovered and internalized stress coping mechanisms, both healthy and unhealthy, children are still at the beginning of this process of discovery and adoption of coping mechanisms. Let’s talk about coping skills activities for kids.
Most healthy stress coping mechanisms are natural and instinctive. The human psyche tends to know, naturally, the best form of stress relief and inclines itself toward carrying out those mechanisms which will best help it to heal, unwind and release stress. In children, who tend not to have formed as many, if any, of the unhealthy habits of adults, the mind's innate stress coping mechanisms are still the ones that will be preferred.
However, in children subjected to extreme or persistent serious stresses, healthy stress coping mechanisms should be reinforced. The following coping skills activities for kids will have varying levels of effectiveness depending on the individual child being coached to employ them, but all are effective for children of varying ages:
1- Physical play in the presence of an adult.
2- Listening to an adult loved one read a story
3- Age-appropriate music, including singing along or dancing
4- Assisting an adult loved one with a light chore
5- Visiting loved ones the child doesn't see every day, i.e. grandparents
6- Social activities with children of the same age
7- Family outing, i.e. movie
It's important to be attentive to the child's needs for the reason mentioned above; if you suggest, for example, going to a movie and the child would rather play outside, be flexible. Again, the child's instincts will guide him or her to a stress coping mechanism, and in such cases -- provided the coping mechanism the child has selected is a healthy one -- you may cause stress by creating an argument rather than relieving stress by allowing the child to engage a healthy coping mechanism.
This is, of course, not to suggest that the child should ever have the sense of being, "in charge." This creates a dangerous trend where the child will begin to doubt the security of his or her role within the family dynamic, and this sense of insecurity and instability in this role tends to generate more stress for the child in the long term.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these coping skills activities for kids. Happy coping with your young ones!
Marina Portillo MAPC, MAHR
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