Creating Crisis/Coping Kits with Your Child — Part 1

“How do I get my child to stop throwing a tantrum every time he doesn’t get his way?”

“Why doesn’t she understand that I want to help, but I don’t know what she wants when she screams?”

“When will my kids stop fighting with each other and start enjoying family time?”

(These are just a few examples of the questions parents ask me when their child is in therapy, expecting the results to be linear, immediate, and maybe a bit magical.)

Quick answer: (there is none)

Real answer: coping kits + time.

So what is a coping kit? Well, pretty much how it sounds! It’s a box (or a bag) filled with items that helps your child manage and communicate with you about difficult emotions. These items can be store-bought things, such as a sand timer, bubbles, or a fidget toy, or they can be things you create with them, like self-affirmation cards, a “coping-catcher” paper game, or a list of supports.


Here are some store-bought ideas (check out this post for materials you can create):

  • Sand-timer or mini-lava lamp — this not only provides a visual of cool-down time, but it can also be used as a mindfulness activity by watching the sand fall or lava float around.
  • Bubbles — a great way for your child to regulate breathing and release anger!
  • Fidget Toys — TANGLE is just an example of a fidget object that is small enough to fit in a coping kit, but you can also use stress balls or play-doh as a sensory activity.
  • Jigsaw Puzzles — you can find these pretty much anywhere, just search depending on what your child likes and their developmental level. You can also download free mobile or tablet apps, if you want to reduce losing pieces around the house or being able to take this on-the-go!
  • Deck of Cards — back in my day (oh gosh, I feel old!), we learned single-player card games like Solitaire. Again, you can find these on mobile apps, but there’s something about tangible objects that can be soothing.
  • “Fun-Read” Books — it seems like nowadays, fewer kids are reaching for paper books, so throwing in a fun-read (i.e., not a school-related book) can help re-inspire the joys of getting lost in a story!
  • Mini-Sketch Pad and Crayons — this can be used for creating art to express emotion, or journaling for the kids who prefer to write.

When I work with my kiddos, one of the most important parts about their treatment success is caregiver involvement. The more you show them you’re on their team, the more they feel supported and able to work towards change.

What are some resources that work for your child? Let us know!

See Part 2 to get ideas for materials you can make with your child as a fun activity or (probably much needed) one-on-one bonding time.

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