Learning how to handle tough or stressful situations is learned behavior. Often times kids model what they see at home, from parents or siblings, or at schoolfrom classmates. This can sometimes be good and sometimes not so good. When a student presents with maladaptive coping skills, it is best to teach new ones. Developmentally middle schoolers are not the easiest audience to teach this too, let alone to sustain their attention. Therefore, what I have found easiest, is to present a variety of possible “strategies”. These strategies are presented a bit different than your traditional coping skills. I have my student pick which ones they like or would be willing to practice. If even this seems difficult, I try to remove it from them personally, use a friend or a fictional character that they need to help by utilizing one of these strategies. I also find it helpful to “chunk” these and only present a few a time. As always the Premack Principle works well with middle schoolers = preferred behaviors, or behaviors with a higher level of intrinsic reinforcement, can be used as rewards, or reinforcements, for less preferred behaviors. These strategies tend to work well for the internalizers, or those who normally do not exhibit their feelings. Included in this lesson is an introduction to your student on why these skills are important, an informal self-assessment to see their current state, 6 skills with examples, pros and cons, a compatibility evaluation of each skill, and finally, making a plan and then a follow up rating and questionnaire.
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COPING SKILLS BUNDLE! A Variety of Strategies for Middle & High Schoolers