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Coping Skill Toolbox

Updated: Jul 31, 2022

Last fall I helped the kids I work with make coping skill boxes.  They were able to decorate them and either take them home or to their classroom to help them if they started to feel out of control.  I talked to their teachers and parents about how to implement the skills and which skills would be useful in various settings.  Some of the kids took home some of their items and left some at school, especially those that may have caused issues in the classroom. 

The kids really seemed to enjoy decorating their boxes and discussing how they would use their boxes and where they would keep them.  The main point that I stressed during the session was discussing how to implement skills and ways to remember skills.  While their hands were busy decorating, they were happy to chat about their week and process emotions. 

It is always enjoyable to see how different personalities come out with the activities.  Some wrote their name on the box and then were ready to move on to another activity.  Others meticulously painted for the entire session.  The important thing to remember is to roll with it.  When I insist that they do things a certain way or spend a certain amount of time on a project, they usually shut down on me.  Several of them opted for Legos after their box was complete.  


Items to Include:

  • A notebook or coloring book with crayons or other art supplies

  • Play dough. You could also include this free PDF of how to use playdough as a coping skill.

  • I like to include a copy of Feelings Candy Land (a free PDF) to allow kids to play the game with their families at home.

  • This free Angry Birds Workbook is a fantastic tool. I include it for kids who struggle with managing anger.

  • The hand model of the brain printout. This is the one I use.

  • A sensory bottle. I like to use I Spy bottles, but have used others.

  • A stress ball or a squishy toy. Most of the kids I see prefer the squishy toy. There are several at Dollar Tree that do the trick. Some are hairy silicone toys, which have lovingly been nicknamed "Hairy Cucumbers" in my room. They also have orbeez balls, dough balls, footballs, bouncy balls, etc.

  • Coping skills flash cards - I have kids choose favorite activities they think would be the most helpful. I make sure they choose a breathing skill, a form of exercise, a communication tool or skill, and a way to process emotions/self-talk.

  • Fidget toys - This could be a fidget spinner, pop-it, or simply a pom pom that is soothing and calming.

There are many options for customizing coping skill toolboxes, often different based on the age, gender, and needs of each individual child. What you include may be a little different if they are using the boxes in class, as many of these items could cause issues in the classroom.


Helpful Resources:


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