I have worked with a lot of kids and teens with ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) who have a really hard time in school. Whether they have combination type (difficulty focusing/paying attention and hyperactivity/fidgeting) or inattentive type ADHD, I learned quickly that just reading over a list of study skills for these kids to try was hardly effective. Teaching study skills, especially to kids with ADHD, requires more than providing them with a list and reading over it with them, then hoping for the best. You have to get creative, and you have to make learning more interactive.
I came up with this activity for that very reason. When I would teach study skills to a teen sitting in my office who was struggling in school, I could literally see the boredom in their faces and the lack of focus in their eyes. I would lose them within mere minutes. It was hardly effective. Just as teachers often have to make learning more interactive for all their students, I had to come up with a way to make learning study skills interactive for kids who were already struggling with their schoolwork due to ADHD symptoms.
GOAL: Help students learn helpful study skill tips and choose which strategies would work best for them.
“PLAYERS”: Student + a counselor, teacher, or parent
AGES: Middle school through college aged students
ACTIVITY: You can actually divide this activity into three separate activities. This is what I frequently do, as let’s face it, giving anyone a whole bunch of any material to learn at once isn’t always effective. Click on the links for the printable pdf forms of the packets and cards.
Materials – Activity #1:
Materials – Activity #2:
Materials – Activity #3:
Materials – All Activities:
Before the activity, laminate (optional) and cut one copy of the Study Skill Cards for that particular activity. Cut apart each section/block on the Categories sheet; glue each block onto separate envelopes. Each block should be designated its own separate envelope:
Both student and counselor (or teacher or parent) each get a packet for the particular activity you’ll be doing. Each person also receives an uncut copy of the Study Skill Cards page. Each player needs two highlighters of different colors. The laminated, cut study skill cards can be placed between the student and counselor.
The student draws a card form the pile in between them. They then read the study tip. The counselor can also choose to take turns drawing cards from the pile if she wants, but it’s important to keep the student as focused an involved as possible. Don’t “just read” to them.
Next to the study skill tip is a number in parentheses. This number corresponds to the number matching on the packet for the particular topic. For some cards, a more thorough explanation may be found in the packet whereas the card generally holds only a brief description of the strategy.
The student, upon reading the card, determines which envelope they want to place the card in. For example, they might place the “Copy the notes. (4)” card in the “I’m interested in trying this” envelope. The student and counselor then, using a designated color highlighter for this category, highlights the study skill tip on their Study Skills Card page so that they both can remember that the tip is something the student may be interested in trying. If the student chooses to place a card in the “I’ll commit to trying it this week” envelope, the student and counselor would use the other colored highlighter to mark those tips on their individual Study Skill Cards pages.
Encourage the student to commit to trying 1-3 skills in the upcoming week, particularly if they don’t already have very effective study habits. Take note that some strategies are better tried separately and not together with another skill tip (for example, “start with the hardest” and “start with the easiest” are probably best not tried during the same week).
After all (or a majority) of the cards are drawn and designated to their appropriate category, spend the remainder of the time discussing the week’s commitments and forming short-term goals. The student then can take their cards sheet and packet with them to help remind them of the skills and their commitment(s).
For the skills highlighted and designated into the category of “I’m interested in trying this,” keep the Study Skill Cards sheet handy for that student and refer back to it as necessary in the future.
The individually cut skill cards and envelopes can be saved to use with other students.
To all the students out there, happy studying!
Losing a parent or caregiver is difficult for any child, whether the loss is through death, separation, or removal from their home. Working with these children, they are often found to be struggling with grief and adjustment issues that might show up as a significant change in mood or acting out behaviors. Working with children who have been temporarily separated or sometimes permanently removed from their home can sometimes prove particularly difficult when trying to find creative ways to help them work their way through the loss of their parent or caregiver who has been a significant part of their lives for some time, often since birth.
Losing someone is never easy. While I certainly am not wanting to downplay the loss any child feels when a parent or caregiver dies, children who are separated from their homes, whether temporarily or permanently, face a unique challenge in itself. The child knows their parent didn’t die, so why can’t they still be with them? In cases where there has been neglect or abuse, a child may especially have difficulty understanding an array of confusing feelings… “I love my mom, but I didn’t like how she hurt me. But I feel guilty for not being with her but it’s kind of nice that I don’t have to worry so much or be so scared.”
In some cases, children aren’t even particularly sure why they’ve been separated from their parents or caregivers at all. They may not be given much information or they may not even realize that their parent’s neglect or other inappropriate behavior was ever wrong in the first place. From these kids’ perspectives, they have a really hard time understanding why or even how their lives seemed to suddenly be turned upside down. And sometimes, depending on the age of the child, it isn’t appropriate to offer a lot of details; regardless, it still doesn’t make up for the intense hurt and pain they feel from being separated from the only home they ever knew.
Child-centered play therapy, I’ve found, is especially helpful for these children when they are particularly young, but I’ve found that a more directive approach is often needed for middle and older elementary children and pre-teens. Seeking out ideas for techniques to work with these children has continued to result in dead ends. With the exception of a few specific techniques out there on the internet and in books for children who have lost their parent or caregiver not by death but by separation, therapists frequently need to adapt general grief activities for these vulnerable children. While this is certainly not a major problem, I began creating some of my own games, art, and other play activities myself.
To create your own game, simply click below and print the Separation & Loss question strips. After you print the questions, I recommend laminating the page for durability. Then simply cut out your questions, and glue each individual question onto a Jenga block. The blocks that are left over can be used as “free pass” blocks, blocks that allow the player a turn without answering a question or they can be rapport (relationship) building blocks.
I find “free pass” blocks to be helpful over utilizing each and every block for a question, as it seems to make kids more comfortable and feel less overwhelmed. Rapport, or relationship, building blocks are ones in which you can use questions such as those found below, to lighten the mood and discuss something a little more fun and less heavy. The topic of losing or being separated from someone you love can be pretty sensitive, let’s cut the child a break! I personally use some of the rapport (relationship) building questions AND a few “free pass” blocks.”
In regards to the rapport building questions I have included in this post, you obviously wouldn’t use all of the strips for this particular game or you wouldn’t have many blocks left for the separation and loss questions. You can pick and choose which of both sets of questions you would like to use. Or you might also decide to glue two questions onto each Jenga block, with one side having a separation and loss question and the other side including a rapport building question. This is what I choose to do. This way, if a child does feel particularly uncomfortable about answering a separation and loss question, there’s a “back up” question they can choose to answer instead.
In counseling children and teenagers, I must tell you that I’ve seen some incredible talent. Some kids are talented musically, some are talented in sports, some are great writers, others are great artists, and some can tell you every country’s capital as though it were as easy as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In every kid I’ve ever worked with, I’ve found an amazing amount of creativity flourishing inside them.
Everyone is creative in their own way. Don’t believe me? Those kids who can rattle off facts like it’s nothing to them? They had to use some creativity in order to be able to memorize and remember those facts, such as using mnemonics or using music. You have to be creative in different ways if you play a sport, remembering all the moves and such.
I hear a lot of kids (and adults, especially) tell me that they’re not creative. They think that because someone told them back in second grade that their drawing wasn’t “good enough” that they themselves are not “good enough.” I say those people that told you that don’t know what creativity is. Everyone is creative!
There’s something cool about using art in therapy. Please note that while I know some various art therapy techniques, I am not a fully trained or certified art therapist. I do, however, use quite a bit of creative expressive techniques in my work as a therapist. One technique I use to help show people that they are creative and that creative expression is remarkably healing is assigning them to journal. Whether it’s through writing, music, art, or any other creative expressive technique, we can find healing in our lives.
Let me say that you don’t have to be an “artist” to do an art journal. There is no “wrong” way to do art; there is no “bad artist.” Art is an outlet for the thoughts from your soul to your hands and onto paper. For art journaling, you can draw, you can color, you can paint, you can collage… the possibilities are endless. I’ve included in this post some of my favorite art journaling prompts that I use especially with teens (and even adults!). Please note that just because the prompt might say “draw,” doesn’t mean you have to draw. If you’d rather collage or do some other form of creative expression (like knitting or writing or sculpting, etc.), you can still use these prompts! Don’t overthink them. Just let yourself be in the moment and do it. Draw in the dark if you think you’re “not a good artist!” Just let yourself be. Just try it.
There you go. Have fun!
Children with anxiety sometimes have a hard time opening up about what they’re worried or anxious about. Enter the worry worms. Worry worms are simply construction (or cardstock) paper worms that look like… well, little worms. I use them in play therapy, but you can easily make your own worms at home and play the worry worm game.
Worry worms are pretty easy to make. Simply draw or trace a worm onto brown construction paper (or cardstock paper works well too). Make several worms, and cut each of them out. Wa-la! Worry worms! I laminate my worms, simply because this allows me to keep them durable for multiple children to play with.
Next I hide these little guys (the worms) around the room for the child to find. For each worry worm the child finds, they are asked to tell one worried thought they have or have had.
It looks like a game of hide-and-seek to them, but let me tell you what really happens when you play the worry worm game:
I admit it. I’m a research junkie. This is no surprise to anyone who knows me, including the clients I work with (and their parents). When I want to know something, I’m notorious for finding every bit of research I can on it. If, in my research, I find a book cited frequently or I find a raving review, I can’t help but check it out on Amazon.com and most likely, add it to my Wish List.
Then of course, there are also times that I just browse a topic I’m interested in learning more about in the Amazon.com store just to see what’s out there and look over the many reviews to see if the particular book is worth my time. Kindle book, paperback, hardback, spiral-bound… My iPad and my bookshelves are filled with resources I use in my counseling practice.
I often get questions about the books in my library – both in my Kindle library and my hard copy library. Today I thought I would share a few of the many therapy books (my “therapeutic resources”) you can find on my Kindle. I will share some of my other books in a future post.
I should note that this is not a sponsored post. Amazon.com, nor anyone else, is paying me to share my book selection. I want to further note that just because I have a particular book in my library doesn’t necessarily mean that I recommend it. Most of the books in my Kindle library are really, really good. Others, maybe not so much. You’ll find that some books are specifically written for clinicians, while others are written for everybody else.
Okay, so here goes…
There you have it… Just a few of my growing library of Kindle books! I didn’t even start to cover the books I have on relationships, parenting, family, addiction, and trauma recovery. Those will come later:-)
I have a confession. I don’t handle stress very well. In fact, if I don’t do something about it before it becomes overwhelming, it won’t take long before anxiety kicks in. I have another confession. I sometimes don’t take the time to stop and actually do something about it before becoming overwhelmed.
There you have it: an actual therapist with years of education and training and years of experience, and much like many of the clients I see, I too experience an anxiety that intrudes upon my life when I’m stressed. It might seem strange that a therapist wouldn’t know how to handle stress very well, but the truth is that I do know how to handle stress. I can just never seem make time to actually handle it.
So what’s a human to do? That’s right. Human. That’s the thing. We all feel stress, maybe some more than others, but it’s human! It happens to everyone! Some people just handle, or cope, with it better (and more effectively) than others.
Here’s the thing, I know that if I would just stop and listen to my body, I could prevent, or at least better cope, with that anxiety that will soon take over my life when I’m feeling stressed. Here are 17 of the most effective coping skills that I’ve found to help me find some peace. Give them a try. You may find something that will help you too.
First off, let me note that you don’t have to consider yourself to be a “spiritual” person just to be able to use these techniques. “Spiritual” strategies are simply skills that can affect a person on a more spiritual, mindful level. Satisfying the human need to feel worthwhile and connected (and at peace) improves a person’s core well-being. These strategies aren’t like ones that simply distract you; those are temporary fixes to use when you aren’t able to more effectively cope at that moment (such as when you need to concentrate on the test you’re taking at the time). Distraction isn’t very effective to help in the long-term because the moment the distraction is no longer present, the stress or anxiety generally returns. Spiritual strategies are more effective not only in the moment, but also provide peace and calm in the long-run.
So here they are:
I hope you’re able to find something on this list that helps you better manage your stress too! If you know of other strategies that help you cope with stress, please leave a comment so I can add them to my list!
Coping strategies (also referred to as coping skills or self-regulation skills) carry enormous potential to be effective at calming us down, helping us cope with life’s situations, and assisting with regulating our wide array of emotions. There are SO MANY types of coping and self-regulation strategies. Some work better for children and adolescents, while others are better suited to be used by adults. Individuals generally find that some techniques are more effective than others, depending on the situation, the emotion one might be feeling, or what you’re trying to achieve by utilizing a skill. There are numerous coping strategies out there that a person can try, if they’re just willing to give them a shot. Most people find that not every coping skill they find suggested on Google or Pinterest or even in therapy proves to be effective for everyone every time. A coping technique that your friend may use to help him calm down when he’s angry might not be as effective for you when you’re mad. That’s okay because there are LOTS AND LOTS of coping strategies out there! If you find that one technique doesn’t seem to help, look for another. Just don’t ever completely trash a skill though, as sometimes it takes more than a couple tries to notice that a strategy really helps, and what may not work today may help significantly in the future, and vice versa.
In my last post, I introduced a list of diversion strategies to help people better cope with their emotions, as well as distressing events they may be experiencing in their lives. In this post you will find a list of 42 positive cognitive coping and self-regulation skills that you can try when you’re in need of something that involves using some brain power and thought processes in order to help influence the way you feel and/or behave. You will likely find that some strategies may be more appropriate for adults, while others might prove more appropriate for children and teens. Trying all of them, however, won’t hurt you as long as the task is within your skill level (for example, a five-year-old may find it difficult and equally frustrating if she tries to learn how to code). These techniques can be utilized by anybody, though some skills will probably appear more appealing than others.
Try them out. Let me know in the comments section if they help, or maybe you have some of your own ideas that you would like to share! Remember, if one strategy doesn’t seem particularly helpful, try something else.
Hope these help! Check back for future posts about other types of coping strategies!
Coping skills (also called self-regulation skills) are great. Seriously. They have the potential to be effective in a number of ways. Feeling sad or depressed? Find a coping strategy that helps lift your mood. Feeling angry? There are coping skills to help with that. Are you feeling anxious? There are strategies you can try to help you feel better. Feeling a sense of emptiness? There are techniques for that too. Just feeling upset in general? Yep, there’s coping strategies for that as well. Feeling bored? Choose a coping skill to help you get out of that funk.
There are numerous types of coping and self-regulation strategies. Some work better for children and teens; others work better for adults. Some techniques are more effective with helping to fight urges to self-harm. Other techniques are more helpful when you’re feeling depressed or anxious. And then there are others that can help calm you down when you’re feeling angry. There are even strategies out there that help individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different coping skills out there that a person could try. Just check out Pinterest and Google. That’s a good thing because most people find that not every coping skill will prove effective for everyone every time. A coping skill that helps your friend may not help regulate your feelings at all. What helps you control your anger might not be as effective at lifting your mood when you’re feeling depressed. That’s okay because there are lots and lots of coping skills out there! If you learn that one technique doesn’t help, look for another. Don’t completely trash a skill though. Sometimes it takes more than one or two tries to notice that something really helps, and what may not work today may help significantly a few months from now.
In this post you will find a list of 54 diversion strategies that you can try to help cope with those overwhelming emotions we all feel sometimes. “Diversion strategies” are coping skills that will allow you to stop thinking about the situation contributing to your distressed emotions, at least for a period of time. These techniques aren’t necessarily meant to be the final solution, but they can be quite useful in keeping you safe, distracting you until you have a little time to think more clearly, etc. These strategies are particularly useful if you can recognize the warning signs of those overwhelming emotions.
Try them out. If one doesn’t seem very helpful in regulating your emotions, try something else.
Most, if not all, children and adolescents, whether struggling with a mental health issue or not, sometimes have difficulty self-regulating, or utilizing healthy coping skills. Kids who have difficulty identifying their feelings can especially find it hard to calm down and self-regulate when they experience strong emotions such as anger, anxiety, depression, and grief. Below is a simple list of healthy coping skills for kids: from A to Z. Be forewarned that not all strategies will work for your child. Often you will find that what may work for one child won’t seem to help another. It’s best to let your child choose a few strategies to try, one at a time, to see what works best for her. If you have a preschooler, you may have to help them pick out a few techniques. Just be patient. There are many, many coping skills out there; your child will eventually find one or more that helps best.
Coping Skills for Kids: From A to Z
A – Get ARTSY! Draw, color, and/or paint!
B – BLOW BUBBLES!
C – COUNT backwards from 100 (or a lower number, if you have a younger child).
D – Practice DEEP breathing.
E – EXERCISE!
F – Smell some FLOWERS.
G – GO somewhere, like to the movies.
H – HUM a tune.
I – INVITE a friend over.
J – JUMP rope or JUMP up and down.
K – KEEP it simple.
L – LISTEN to music.
M – MEDITATE or practice MINDFULNESS.
N – Write in a NOTEBOOK or journal.
O – Go OUTSIDE!
P – PET your pet!
Q – Learn to QUILT or sew.
R – READ a book or the comics in the newspaper, or ask someone to READ to you.
S – SING!
T – TREAT yourself to something yummy or do something fun to TREAT yourself.
U – UNDERSTAND that all feelings are okay.
V – VISUALIZE – Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a safe place.
W – Create WORRY stones.
X – ‘X-hale!
Y – Practice YOGA.
Z – ZZZZZ… Sleep.