Download your free Coping Cards (Calming Down Cards) and help your kids practice self-regulation and develop coping skills!
Sooner or later, we all have to face failure, disappointment, anger, anxiety, frustration, regret, rejection, or loss.
It’s no different for our kids.
Stressful situations for our kids may look like this:
- Anxiety about speaking in front of their peers in class
- Feeling self-conscious and not wanting to draw attention to themselves
- Difficulty making friends
- Embarrassment about not performing as they would like in school
- Anger over injustice
- Frustration about events they can’t control
- Sadness about the loss of a pet
The list is long, I didn’t even have to think too hard to come up with those.
When life presents us with those challenges, we look for strategies that allow us to deal with our setbacks or difficulties and minimize or help us tolerate the effects of those stressful events.
The name for these is coping strategies.
Definition: What is a Coping Strategy?
An action, a series of actions, or a thought process used in meeting a stressful or unpleasant situation or in modifying one’s reaction to such a situation. Coping strategies typically involve a conscious and direct approach to problems, in contrast to defense mechanisms.
Source: APA Dictionary of Psychology
Types of Coping Strategies
The number of ways we can use to cope with our difficulties has been counted in the hundreds.
In a review of the category systems that classify ways of coping, Skinner et al. identified 400 different ways of coping.
And, although there are also many different classifications, there seems to be some agreement on two overarching categories:
- Problem-focused coping strategies, that involve active efforts to address the underlying cause of our stressor.
- Emotion-focused coping strategies, that involve our efforts to mitigate the emotional consequences of stressful events. In other words, dealing with our emotions and feelings instead of the problem itself.
The strategy we choose will obviously be influenced by the type of problem we face and our own coping skills.
Coping Cards (or Calm Down Cards)
Let’s get back to our important topic. How to assist our kids to choose good coping strategies.
Stressful situations are not the perfect environment to think and reflect on our choices.
And, the sheer number of strategies available makes it difficult for our kids to choose an appropriate coping skill adapted to their level of mastery and the problem they face.
A great tool that will support our kids’ (or students’) choices is a set of Coping Cards.
What are Coping Cards (or Calming Cards)?
A coping card is a visual prompt that presents a coping strategy to be used when facing a stressor.
Some people prefer to call them calming cards, calm down cards, calming strategy cards, or self-regulation cards.
Coping cards can be a useful tool for anybody needing support when making coping choices.
For adults and teenagers, they may look like written coping statements, such as:
“When I feel anxious, I remember to practice my breathing exercises”
When it comes to children, we most often use illustrations or pictograms because they:
- improve information processing
- assist those who have not developed good reading skills
- support those who can’t communicate verbally
Benefits of Using Calm Down Cards
Using calming down cards when teaching kids how to cope with big emotions (anger or anxiety) has many benefits:
- they promote self-regulation
- they provide a variety of choices that would have not popped up spontaneously in their minds
- they assist them in making their choices
- they supplement or replace speech for those kids who can´t communicate verbally
- they provide a tool to help us with our kids on their coping strategies
- they improve the chances of successfully implementing strategies we have been practicing with them, by providing visual prompts
- they are conveniently presented in a card format, so they are easy to carry around and you can access them when you need them
(Free Download) Coping Cards with Pictograms
The coping cards that you will be able to download provide a variety of visual prompts that will assist your kid’s self-regulation.
They cover areas such as:
- Asking for help
- Relaxation methods
- Breathing exercises
- Yoga, Meditation
- Other relaxation activities
- Problem-solving abilities
- Attention diversion – Taking a break from the situation
- Physical distancing
- Cognitive diversion (engaging in a different activity like reading or playing a board game)
- Behavioral strategies (exercise / burning energy)
- Sensory Activities
- Cognitive strategies
Download the Coping Cards (please, fill in your details in the form below the picture)
These Coping Cards have been created by VerySpecialTales.com / The pictograms used are property of the Aragon Government (Spain) and have been created by Sergio Palao to ARASAAC which distribute them under Creative Commons License (BY-NC-SA)
Tips on How to Use your Calming Cards
- Get familiar with the coping strategies available
- Practice the proposed activities when your kids are calm and happy. You will not be able to teach them to “stop, think and solve” (just an example) in the middle of a tantrum.
They need to start to automate that sequence in a happy context.
- Decide what format works better for you (cards or a little book where you can check several strategies at a time)
And before you go, let me share the reason why I’ve always loved the graphics (pictograms) I’ve use for these cards.
The pictograms used in most of these cards are an augmentative & alternative communication (AAC) resource.
They were developed by ARASAAC and shared with Creative Commons license (BY-NC-SA), to facilitate communication and cognitive accessibility to people who present serious difficulties in these areas which hinder their inclusion in any area of daily life (autism, intellectual disability, lack of language, elderly people).
Hence, these graphics may already look familiar to some kids who use augmentative & alternative communication devices (if they happen to be using the same graphics).
And, it also allows me to share this great tool for free.
I hope you find your calming cards very useful!
Other Useful Resources to Help Kids Learn About Emotions