in brief: Working in small groups, students will categorize
coping strategies as positive, negative, neutral and time-out behaviors.
Positive, Negative, Neutral, Time-out
Coping Strategies handout (below), chart paper and markers for each
Write the word cope on the board, and ask the students
to define it. Arrive at a definition along these lines: to handle
something successfully. When strong feelings come up, we all have
ways we try to cope with them. Some of our approaches, or strategies,
are successful; others are not.
the following terms written out on a piece of chart paper:
the meanings of these terms, as described below:
coping strategy. This is a strategy that enables you to restore
emotional balance; feel better about yourself; is respectful of
you, others, and property; and helps you to solve the problem.
coping strategy. This is a strategy that does not restore
emotional balance; may be harmful to yourself, others, or property;
does not solve the problem, and may create additional problems.
coping strategy. This is a strategy that is neither positive
nor negative, but used to excess, could be harmful.
Time-out strategy. This is a strategy that helps you to calm
down and restore emotional balance. It is only temporary and must
be used with another positive strategy in order to solve the problem.
a strong feeling (for example, anger) and ask the students to share
things they do or have seen others do when they experience that
feeling. Record their responses on chart paper.
Examining Coping Strategies, Part 1
the students have generated a list of a dozen or so items, go down
the list, asking the class to comment on whether each action is
a positive coping strategy, negative, neutral, or time-out. (In
some cases, an action may be either positive or negative depending
on the circumstances.)
Coping Strategies, Part 2
Divide the class into four groups.
2. Distribute the Coping Strategies handout (below) and instruct
each group to examine it. (You might want to use the list drawn
up in the brainstorm if it is comprehensive enough.)
3. Assign each group the task of identifying which of the
coping strategies on the list fit into a particular category.
A: positive coping strategies
B: negative coping strategies
C: neutral coping strategies
D: time-out strategies
4. Have each group discuss the overall list, select strategies
fitting their category, and prepare a chart listing their strategies.
(Circulate among the groups, guiding them to use the working definitions
when deciding whether or not a strategy belongs on their group's
Sharing and Discussion
Have each group share the chart they have developed. Some items
may appear on more than one list. Point this out and invite the
class to discuss the strategy further. (For example: Is watching
TV negative, positive, neutral or time out? Why?)
2. Discussion questions:
strategies do you see people using most often? What is the effect
positive coping strategies have you tried when you experienced
strong emotions? How have they helped?
happened when you used some of the negative strategies on the
tehre times when some of the negative strategies might be appropriate?
time-out behaviors are helpful for you?
class, What's something you learned from today's lesson? Are you
taking away anything that may be useful in your life?
Provide a "time-out" space in your room where students
can go to cool down.
Encourage journal-writing using the following:
about a strong emotion that you experienced, how you coped with
it, and what you can do differently next time,
positive strategies I'd like to try are
could use time out strategies when
do you do when you experience a strong emotion?
to a counselor
in my journal
to trusted adult
sorry for myself
up my brother or sister
a shower or a bath
with the person involved
a peaceful place