Building a Coping Toolbox

As summer approaches, do you find yourself thinking about specific students and wondering how they will do at home all summer long? You know the students I’m talking about: the ones who really rely on the positive relationships they have at school and the structure found within the building walls. One simple activity I have done with them before the end of the year is build a coping toolbox that they can use at home during the summer. These have a lot of names (coping toolbox, coping skills kit, etc.). Whatever you call them, they’re simply boxes filled with things the students can use when tough situations come up or they experience hard emotions.

Build a coping toolbox to help your students use coping skills during the summer or when they're on their own at home! Grab some art activities, journals, calming strategy cards, and more to build a coping skills kit with your students!

Building a Coping Toolbox

Supplies

Assuming you’ve been meeting with these specific students for a while, you probably have a good idea already about coping skills that your student finds to be effective. Below you’ll find a list of suggested supplies, but of course grab things that you know will be effective for your particular student.

Putting the Toolbox Together

Students can decorate their shoeboxes or tubs however they like with markers, glue, glitter, or whatever you have. Then, students can consider the coping skill items that are available and choose what will be beneficial for them. Remind students to think about the coping skills that really work for them and choose items that will help. If your student finds coloring relaxing, suggest that he puts crayons, blank paper, or mandalas in his toolbox. If your student finds writing to be calming, have her fill her toolbox with a journal and fun pencils.

Build a coping toolbox to help your students use coping skills during the summer or when they're on their own at home! Grab some art activities, journals, calming strategy cards, and more to build a coping skills kit with your students!

Include Families

This is a personal preference, but at the end of the year, it can be helpful to meet with families or parents of the students you’ve worked with one on one. This is a time to review the skills the student has worked on and brag on the student a little. The student can also show off his or her coping toolboxes to the family members. This accomplishes two things: (1) having the student verbalize what each item is for helps them to remember and use the resources and (2) creates parent buy-in. If this type of meeting isn’t a good fit for you or your end of the year schedule, give parents a call and let them know what the student is bringing home and what it’s for just to give them a heads up.

How do you help your students prepare for summer? I’d love to hear how you build up your students to independently practice the skills they’ve learned with you in counseling! Let me know in the comments!

Happy Counseling! -Counselor KeriBuild a coping toolbox to help your students use coping skills during the summer or when they're on their own at home! Grab some art activities, journals, calming strategy cards, and more to build a coping skills kit with your students!

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5 thoughts on “Building a Coping Toolbox

  1. Do you have to purchase these supplies yourself? Our district barely has money for copy paper, I don’t have any of this stuff provided for me. I would totally have to go out and spend my own money on it, which unfortunately I can’t afford! 🙁 Love the idea though!

    1. Totally. I’ve never worked anywhere with a counseling budget of more than $50. But one year I had a lot of success putting an “ad” in the school newsletter asking for play dough, bubbles, and pinwheels for the kits. I had some moms raid the dollar spot and bring me those little journals, and a mom who owned a local restaurant gave me the crayons people used from the kid menus. One year I also just folded some notebook paper and cut it in half to make little mini journals. Definitely an exercise in creativity!

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