teaching coping strategies to students

Teaching Coping Strategies to Students

Teaching coping strategies to students has never been more important than now. During this time of unpredictability, children depend on us for answers and comfort. Since I have been teaching virtually, it has been exponentially more difficult to be able to provide that level of comfort for my students. This is why social-emotional learning has been a huge part of my curriculum. Specifically, giving students the tools they need to be successful at home, on their own, and for years to come. But what exactly are coping strategies and why is it important that we are teaching coping strategies to students?

What are Coping Strategies?

We as adults might not even understand how to use coping strategies in our own lives. When teaching students, I always break down coping strategies into mental and physical. I provide them with ways they can be successful with their bodies and their minds. Below are two posters I created for my students to give them examples of things they can do when feeling anxious or frustrated. I explain to them that different situations require different strategies.

teaching coping strategies using visuals

teaching coping strategies posters with physical and mental categories

Teaching Coping Strategies Using Scenarios

One of the most effective ways I have found to teach coping strategies is to use fictional scenarios. This allows students to make connections without having to share personal stories. These scenarios are usually practiced after the coping strategies have been taught. Students connect with the fictional scenario by identifying what their initial feelings would be, choosing a coping strategy that would work best, and making a personal connection if they have one.

teaching coping strategies scenario resource

This is an example of a coping strategy scenario-based resource.

Teaching Coping Strategies Virtually

There is nothing better than physically being in front of a group of students especially when discussing a social-emotional learning topic. Using role-playing and being able to see clear emotions is important to guide your lesson. Since we’ve been teaching virtually, I still use this lesson in digital form. It is just as effective because students are still getting the content. Also, since some topics might be emotional, students don’t feel “put on the spot.” I am glad to be able to have a digital version of this resource.

Digital Coping Strategy resource

This is a digital version of a coping strategy scenario resource.

Why is Teaching Coping Strategies Important?

While students struggle with a changing world, as well as adults, we need to be giving them tools to deal with stressful situations. Children and teens need concrete advice, strategies that they instantly use when something difficult arises. When students are frustrated, I ask them what a good coping strategy would be to use. It’s surprising how many instantly take deep breaths, walk away from the situation, ask for a water break, etc. When we are consistent with teaching, our students become consistent with learning and practicing.

Happy Teaching,

Looking for a coping strategy resource to use with your students both digitally and in paper? Try this Social-Emotional Learning, Coping Strategies, Digital and Paper Scenarios resource.

Need more ideas on working with upper elementary students? See if these blog posts may help!

6 Elementary Picture Books I Use to Teach Writing

How to Stay Organized in Upper Elementary 

Why You Need to Be Teaching the RACE Writing Strategy 


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