It can be hard to deal with the stress and anxiety caused by emotions. For the child who is developing in this area, coping with emotions can be hard! Kids with developmental delays in cognitive, emotional, physical, or sensory delays can especially suffer with impaired coping abilities to stress or anxiety. Sometimes, those big feelings get to be TOO MUCH and anger, frustrations result in major meltdowns.
The key to dealing with these situations is a toolkit of coping strategies.
What is a Coping Strategy?
Coping strategies are a mechanism for dealing with big emotions. These mechanisms for that can be used by kids and adults. Coping strategies are well-known, and used to manage stress or high-level emotions. When a person is feeling stressed out, a walk outside can help. Other coping strategies might include deep breaths, meditation, prayer, relaxation, exercise, or sensory-based coping strategies.
A coping strategy can be healthy and positive, or it can be negative and hurtful to an individual’s health (think: addiction, smoking, alcohol, or other ineffective strategies that may feel as though they help defeat stress or anxiety in the short term).
Super Easy Coping Strategy
This coping strategy is similar to taking 5 deep breaths or stopping and breathing before answering when in a stressful or high-emotion situation. An easy coping strategy is great for kids who have anxiety or big emotions when in school or environments like the school bus or in the community.
Sometimes, sensory issues cause the big emotions and require a child to stop and refresh before they can move on from the meltdowns.
This coping strategy requires no materials or tools other than your hands.
Ocean Sounds Coping Strategy
To use this easy coping strategy, you’ll only need your hands!
All you need to do is cup the palm of the hands and place them on your ears. What do you hear? Does it sound like ocean waves are lapping gently in the distance?
Listen to the sounds of the waves and imagine the beach or a shore line where the waves roll in and out. Listen for a count of 10 seconds or more. If more time is needed to step back from a stressful situation, repeat the steps.
Try moving the position of your hands to make the “wave” sound louder or quieter.
Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to email@example.com.