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LVHN Health Tips: The ABCs of coping skills for kids

Sometimes emotions and feelings can feel really big, especially when you’re small.

The care team at Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital knows kids experience complex feelings just like adults. They get frightened, nervous, anxious, angry and sad. However, they don’t always know how to handle these emotions.

Teach your child this alphabet of healthy ways to cope with and express their feelings.

Ask for help or support. Asking for help is a sign of strength and self-awareness.

Belly breaths. Take slow, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.

Count to 10 (or until I’m calm again). Counting gives you time to calm down and collect your thoughts before responding to a stressful situation.

Do something creative. Coloring and drawing are great constructive distractions that enable you to use creativity to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

Eat a healthy snack. Physical hunger impacts your emotions and mood.

Find five. Name five objects or people you see in the room.

Get outside. Fresh air can help bring you back to the moment.

Hug a stuffed animal, pillow or someone you love.

Imagine your favorite place. Or go to it if you can. Emotions are easier to face when you’re in a better environment.

Journal. Write your feelings down.

Kind act. Kindness has a way of making the person receiving it and showing it both feel better.

Listen to music. There’s a song for whatever emotion you’re feeling.

Move your body. This helps get you out of your head and back into your body, allowing you to process whatever emotion you’re feeling with more clarity.

Nap. Everything is harder when you’re tired, including regulating your emotions. Take a nap, even if it’s just a quick one.

Organize and clean up. This will get you out of your mind and into the physical world, helping you regain control of your mind and emotions.

Play. Play a game or pretend, on your own or with a friend.

Quiet time. Find a quiet spot where you can be alone with your thoughts and emotions.

Read a book. Books are a healthy form of escape.

Sense your surroundings. Use the five senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch) to bring you back into your body.

Take a bath or shower. Showers and baths can help to calm the nervous system, reduce cortisol levels and promote relaxation.

Unplug. Screentime can negatively affect your mental well-being.

Vent your feelings. Find a family member, friend or someone you trust and let out what’s weighing heavy on your mind.

Water. Taking sips of water can help calm you down.

X-ray your feelings. Take time to identify what you are feeling. Sometimes not knowing what you’re feeling is what makes the feeling hard to feel.

You time. It’s OK to take space from others and spend time with yourself.

Zero in on a task. Whether it’s a chore or a craft, put all of your focus on the task at hand.

A child holds a smiley face. You can help your child and support their mental health by following the ABCs. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO