Coping skills that can be taught to children:

RELAXATION

  • Deep breathing, i.e., "belly breathing.” Teach the child to breathe in deeply so that the lower abdomen protrudes during inhalation, and recedes during exhalation.
  • Younger children can lie on the floor and put a book or stuffed animal on their lower abdomen.
  • After the child masters this, have the child count to 5 slowly while breathing through the nose, and count to 5 while slowly exhaling through the mouth.
  • Older children should be taught to focus on the feeling of their breath going in and out, and encouraged to not judge their thoughts. Tell students that if they have a distracting thought, that is just fine; whenever they remember to do so, they should put their mind back on the feeling of their breath.
  • Teachers and older students can be taught "square breathing.” This technique encourages the participant to breathe in slowly to the count of 4, hold their breath to the count of 4, breathe out slowly to the count of 4, and then hold the breath out to the count of 4. The last section of the square, holding your breath out may be difficult at first and participants can change that count to 2 or 3 if necessary.
  • Students and teachers can be taught progressive muscle relaxation, tensing and releasing muscles throughout the body, usually beginning with toes and feet.
  • Some students and/or teachers do better with breathing techniques if they have words to focus on. "Peace in, Stress out” is one that is often helpful. Students can also be encouraged to think up their own healing words.