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49 Healthy Coping Strategies for Kids (That Actually Work)

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As kids grow and develop, they will face a variety of challenges. Some of these challenges may be big, like starting a new school or dealing with a divorce. Others may be smaller, like getting teased by a classmate or not being invited to a birthday party.

No matter what the challenge is, it’s important for kids to have coping skills so that they can deal with their feelings in a healthy way. The sad reality is that hen kids don’t have coping skills, they may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms later on in life such as binge eating, self-harm, or drug use.

In this article, we explore 49 healthy coping strategies for your child to learn.

When Should Children Learn Healthy Coping Skills?

Coping skills should be used when a child is feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or upset. If a child is having difficulty coping with a situation, it may be helpful to teach them some healthy coping skills to use at that moment. It is also important to encourage children to use coping skills on a regular basis, even when they are not feeling stressed, in order to help them develop healthy coping habits.

Children can start learning healthy coping skills as early as preschool. It’s important to teach kids how to cope with both positive and negative emotions so that they know how to deal with both happy and tough times in their lives.

Some common strategies for kids to improve coping skills include:

Deep Breathing

This can help kids to relax and calm down when they’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed.

Positive Self-Talk

This involves talking to oneself in a positive and encouraging way. For example, a child might say something like “I can do this” or “I am strong” when faced with a challenging situation.


This technique involves picturing oneself in a calm and happy place. This can help to relax the body and mind and make it easier to cope with difficult emotions.


This is a great way to release built-up energy and tension. It can also help to improve mood and overall feelings of well-being.

Spending Time with Friends or Family

Connecting with loved ones can provide support and comfort during tough times.

These are just some of the many coping strategies that children can learn. It’s important to find ones that work well for your child, and that they feel comfortable using. Different strategies will work for different kids, so it may take some trial and error to find the ones that work best.

How to Teach Coping Skills

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There are many ways to teach coping skills, but the approach you take will depend on the age of the child. For younger children, coping skills can be taught through simple games and activities. Older children may benefit from more serious discussions and role-playing exercises. No matter what method you choose, always make sure to keep things positive and encourage your child to practice using their new coping skills.

For younger children, try incorporating coping skills into games and activities. This will make learning new skills fun and exciting. You can also use songs, stories, or puppets to teach coping skills. Some specific ideas include:

Playing “I Spy” with emotional words: As you play this classic game, have your child look for objects that represent different emotions (e.g., a teddy bear for happiness, a raincloud for sadness). This will help them to identify and label their emotions.

Making a Worry Doll: Worry dolls are traditionally used by children in Guatemala when they have something on their minds. To make your own worry doll, start by collecting some small objects like beads, buttons, and fabric scraps. Then help your child create a small doll using these materials. Once the doll is complete, explain that whenever they have a worry, they can tell it to the doll. This will help take some of the weight off of their shoulders.

Talking About Feelings with Stuffed Animals: Encourage your child to express their emotions by talking to a stuffed animal. They can tell the animal about their day, what’s making them happy or sad, and anything else on their mind. This activity will help your child to feel more comfortable discussing their feelings.

For older children, you may want to take a more serious approach to teaching coping skills. This can be done through discussions, role-playing exercises, and journaling. Some specific ideas include:

Identifying Triggers: Help your child to identify the things that trigger their negative emotions. Once they are aware of their triggers, they can start to develop coping strategies for dealing with them.

Role-playing difficult situations: Practice makes perfect! Sit down with your child and role-play different situations they may find challenging. This could include dealing with a bully at school, asking for help from a teacher, or coping with a friend’s betrayal. As you role-play, brainstorm some possible coping strategies they could use in each situation.

Journaling: Writing down their thoughts and feelings can be very therapeutic for children. Encourage your child to keep a journal where they can express themselves freely. This will provide them with an outlet for their emotions and help them to process their thoughts and experiences.

When teaching coping skills, always make sure to emphasize the importance of practice.

Help your child to develop a plan for when and how they will practice using their new skills. Remind them that it takes time to learn new things and that it’s okay to make mistakes. With a little patience and practice, your child will be using their coping skills like a pro in no time!

How Can Children Develop Coping Skills?

Sad child girl in warm knitted winter clothes outdoors.

There are many ways that children can develop coping skills. Some of these skills can be learned through experience, while others may need to be taught directly. Here are some examples of how children can develop coping skills:

  1. Through positive reinforcement from adults, children can learn that they are capable of coping with difficult situations and that they can receive support from others.
  2. By observing adults and older children handle stress, children can learn how to cope with their own emotions.
  3. Through trial and error, children can learn which coping strategies work best for them in different situations.
  4. By talking about their feelings and experiences with adults, children can begin to understand their emotions and how to deal with them.

It is important to remember that not all children will develop coping skills in the same way or at the same rate. Some children may seem to cope effortlessly, while others may need more help and support. The most important thing is to provide children with opportunities to learn and practice coping skills so that they can be successful in dealing with stress and other challenges in their lives.

Coping Strategies for Children of Different Age Groups

There are many different coping skills for kids. Some coping skills are more appropriate for certain age groups than others. 

Some appropriate coping skills include:

For younger kids (ages 3-5)

  1. Blowing bubbles
  2. Playing with a favorite toy
  3. Listening to music
  4. Having a snack

For older kids (ages 6-12)

Talking to a trusted adult about their problems

  1. Writing in a journal
  2. Going for a walk or run
  3. Practicing deep breathing exercises

For teens (ages 13-18)

  1. Talking to a therapist or counselor
  2. Participating in positive activities, such as sports or clubs
  3. Volunteering
  4. Listening to relaxation tapes

No matter what age group your child is in, it is never too early or too late to start teaching them coping skills. The most important thing is to be there for your child and to provide them with support and love.

10 of the Best Coping Mechanisms for Kids

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When it comes to coping mechanisms, not all are created equal. Some coping mechanisms are more effective than others in helping children to deal with stress and difficult emotions. Here are 10 of the best coping mechanisms for kids:

  • Problem-Solving: This involves breaking down a problem into smaller, more manageable pieces in order to find a solution.
  • Communication: This involves talking about the problem with someone who can offer support, such as a parent, guardian, or teacher.
  • Time Management: This involves learning how to better manage time in order to complete tasks and meet deadlines.
  • Relaxation Techniques: This involves practices such as deep breathing and visualization, which can help to calm the mind and body.
  • Exercise: This releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects.
  • Positive Thinking: This involves re-framing the problem in a more positive light and looking for the silver lining.
  • Coping Cards: This involves carrying around a card with coping statements or affirmations to help remind the child of healthy ways to cope with stress.
  • Art: This can be used as an outlet for emotions and can help children to express themselves in a healthy way.
  • Nature: This can provide a sense of calm and can help to reduce stress levels.
  • Journaling: This can be used as a form of self-expression and can help children to process their emotions in a healthy way.

Additional Ways to Improve Coping Mechanism

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to teaching children how to cope with stress and difficult emotions. So, it’s crucial to try and determine what works best for your child and make them practice healthy coping skills. Here are some additional ways to adapt and hone coping skills in order to manage stress:

Active coping strategies

  • Walking, Running, or Hiking: These activities help to release endorphins, which are hormones that have mood-lifting properties.
  • Stretching or doing yoga: These activities help kids in relaxing their bodies and mind.
  • Jumping Jacks or Push-Ups: These exercises are a great way to help kids release energy in a positive way.
  • Throwing or Kicking a Ball: These activities can help to relieve tension and frustration.
  • Dancing: Dancing is a fun way to get the body moving and help relieve stress.
  • Squeezing a Stress Ball: This can help to release tension and focus energy in a positive way.
  • Riding a Bike: This is a great way to get some exercise while also relieving stress.

Relaxing coping strategies:

  • Reading: Reading can help transport a person to another world and provide a much-needed distraction from stress.
  • Organizing: This can help people feel more in control of their environment and their lives.
  • Coloring: Coloring can be therapeutic and help to promote relaxation.
  • Spending Time with Animals: Pets can provide emotional support and companionship.
  • Spending Time in Nature: Being in nature can help to center a person and provide a sense of peace.
  • Meditation: This can help people focus on the present moment and let go of stressors.
  • Mindfulness Exercises: These exercises can help people be more aware of their thoughts and feelings in order to better deal with them.
  • Music: Music can help shift a person’s mood and create feelings of happiness. This involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in the body to help promote relaxation.
  • Deep Breathing: Deep breathing can help people to relax their bodies and minds.
  • Visualization: This technique involves picturing a peaceful or calming place in order to promote relaxation.

Creative coping strategies:

  • Writing in a Journal: Writing about thoughts and feelings can help children gain insights into themselves as well as provide an outlet for emotions.
  • Drawing or Painting: These activities can help children express their feelings in a creative way.
  • Playing Music: Playing an instrument or singing can help to boost mood and relieve stress.
  • Creating a Collage: This can be a fun way for kids to express themselves and their emotions.
  • Acting Out a Scene: This can help children process difficult emotions by acting them out in a safe and controlled environment.
  • Building with Blocks or Legos: This can be a great way to channel energy in a positive way.
  • Making a Scrapbook: This can help children to remember happy memories and moments.
  • Cooking or Baking: These activities can help kids to feel accomplished and proud of their creations.

Social coping strategies:

  • Spending Time with Friends or Family: These people can provide support and a sense of belonging.
  • Doing an Activity Together: This can help to build bonds and create positive memories.
  • Talking about Feelings: This can help to foster communication and understanding.
  • Laughing Together: Laughter can be contagious and help to reduce stress levels.
  • Sharing Interests: This can help to build connections and create a sense of community.
  • Volunteering: This can help people to feel good about themselves and their contribution to the world.

As you can see, there are many different coping strategies that children can use to deal with stress. The key is to find what works best for your child and to help them practice using these skills on a regular basis.

Coping strategies can be used in any situation, whether it’s dealing with a difficult school assignment or managing stress during a family conflict. By teaching children how to cope with stress in a healthy way, you’re helping them build a foundation for a lifetime of success.

Some Key Points to Consider

When teaching children healthy coping skills, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. Some of these are as follows:

Practice Healthy Coping Skills

Kids will likely need some practice before they feel confident using these techniques. It’s important to be patient and encourage them to keep trying, even if they don’t see results right away.

Model Healthy Coping Strategies

When kids see their parents using these techniques, they’ll be more likely to try them out themselves. So, it’s important to model healthy coping skills yourself in order to set a good example for them.

Acknowledge the Growth

it’s normal for kids to sometimes revert back to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as tantrums or aggression. This doesn’t mean that they’re not making progress; it just means that they need more practice.

Choose Wisely

Every child is different and will respond to different coping strategies in different ways. Strategies that work for one child might not work for another. So, it’s important to keep in mind what works best for your child and to tailor your approach accordingly.


Whatever coping skills a child chooses to use, it’s important that they are developmentally appropriate and that they actually work for the child. A coping skill that works for one child may not work for another, so it’s important to experiment until you find what works best for your child. 

If you’re not sure where to start, talk to your child’s doctor or mental health professional. They can help you to identify coping skills that may be helpful for your child.

If you think that your child might be struggling with emotional regulation, it might be wise to read some of our articles that dive deep into strategies and tips for parents.


Healthy Coping Strategies for Kids. (2022). Retrieved 7 June 2022, from

Pediatric Coping Skills | Children’s Hospital Colorado. (2022). Retrieved 7 June 2022, from

Hope, C. (2022). Types of Coping Strategies – Canopy of Hope. Retrieved 7 June 2022, from

Healthy Coping Skills for Uncomfortable Emotions. (2022). Retrieved 7 June 2022, from

15 of the Best Coping Mechanisms for Kids. (2022). Retrieved 7 June 2022, from

Pediatric Coping Skills | Children’s Hospital Colorado. (2022). Retrieved 7 June 2022, from

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