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Activities for Teaching Coping Skills to Youth

By Michelle Bolyn ; Updated June 13, 2017

Teaching coping skills to preteens and teens can help them to manage stressful situations in healthy ways. Teens who learn and implement positive coping skills are less likely to turn to drugs and alcohol to mask their feelings, become overwhelmed by anxiety and suffer from physical illnesses brought on by stress. Teachers, parents and therapists can teach youth coping skills through activities.

Importance of Healthy Habits

TeensHealth reports that stress takes a huge toll on a person’s body, so it’s more important than ever to eat healthfully and exercise regularly when dealing with stress. Discuss healthy habits with your kids and then have them make lists of 10 healthy snacks and 10 ways they can fit in 20 minutes of exercise. Split the youth into groups and have them share their exercise and healthy snack ideas. The family can work together by completing worksheets daily for a week that asks what they ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner and whether they exercised for at least 20 minutes. Take a look at the worksheets at the end of the week together and review the positive aspects and the things you can work together as a family to change.

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques can help youth to reduce their stress in the moment, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Let them know that they can simply take deep breaths in through their nose and out through their mouth 10 times to reduce stress.

Teach them a guided imagery technique and practice it together. Instruct your teen to close her eyes and imagine a place that makes her relaxed and happy. Then encourage her to use all of her senses to really get into it. For instance, if your teen picks her bedroom, she should focus on seeing the pink walls, feeling the fuzzy carpet under her feet, hearing her favorite music playing in the background and smelling her vanilla-scented candle burning.

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List of Stress Relievers

Ask your child to get out a sheet of paper and list 10 things that he does that makes him happy. Give him examples by sharing some things that make you happy such as reading a good book, taking a bubble bath and spending time with family. Ask your teen to share his list and let him know that everything he listed should help him to prevent and cope with stress, especially if he does at least one thing from his list each day. Every once in a while, check back in and ask them if he's done something from his "happy list" recently.

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