Many times children don’t know how to express their anger and don’t know the proper coping skills needed to handle their anger and frustrations. There are different activities to teach children proper coping skills to release their anger and frustrations. As parents and therapists we can make learning coping skills fun and exciting. Just sitting and talking to our children is not always going to work, sometimes they need visual assistance and even activities practicing how to cope with our feelings. Here are some ideas of activities to help children learn the proper coping skills.
Bubbles: what child does not love bubbles? When the bubbles come out kids of all ages want to play with them. Have your child blow bubbles big enough to fit the words CALM and RELAX. This helps them try to focus on one thing at a time other than their anger. Then you can have them blow a bubble that would carry their anger and frustrations away. Have them watch the bubble float away and once it pops, their anger and frustration pops with it. The bubble is no more as is their anger.
Balloons: another wonderful activity to do with children of all ages, possibly even teens is to have them blow up a balloon. You can either have the write their anger issue on the balloon (teens) or have them “blow the anger into the balloon.” The balloon will be as big as however they feel their anger is without popping it. Once the balloon is blown up and tied. Let go of the balloons. As you watch the balloons flow away tell them to allow their anger to float away with the balloon. Once the balloon is no longer in sight, neither is their anger.
Charts: Feelings charts are one visual way to help children express their feelings even if it isn’t anger. The chart can be made in many different ways. You can have a thermometer, starting off with blue at the bottom and increasing in anger colors til boiling like red or even black and label what each are supposed to me. Then you can use Velcro and Velcro a small part of each section and the back of a piece of paper. Then the child can move the paper to how they are feeling: happy, mellow, frustrated, sad, angry, boiling mad. Or you can use the feelings faces with a magnet on the back and a small magnet square. Then the child can more the magnet to whichever face shows what they are feeling.
Drawing: Drawing can be a great way to help children learn how to cope with their anger. You can get them a generic notebook which they can decorate the front however they want. One of my kids cut out pictures she drew and glued them on, another cut out magazine pictures and made a collage. Whenever the child gets upset have the scribble with the color that they feel, any color that represents their anger or frustration. Then they can start to draw their feelings or what they were angry about if they don’t want to talk about it. You can play different music while they draw fast and upbeat and then slow and calm to see if their drawing is different. Then ask what they were feeling while drawing.
Snowball Melt: Have the child cur up tight into a ball like a snowball. Then describe the weather getting hotter and hotter as the child slowly uncurls. Have them focus on feeling their muscles being tight in the beginning and how the feel as they unfold. How relaxed it feels to loosen up and let go of the tightness of the “snowball” You can make it into a game to see who could “melt” the slowest to teach them to take their time and not react to quickly when they are angry.
Anger Balls: This is a great activity that kids can do with their friends and with parents. You take a balloon and fill it with either dry rice or sand and then tying it at the bottom the way you would a water-balloon. When the child feels angry they can throw it, mash it, squeeze it whatever their mood calls for other than slicing it open or biting hard on it. The ball gives the child a source to let out their anger with instead of becoming aggressive with someone around them or even themselves.
Lady Bugs: This is a craft the kids can do and could be for younger kids, teenagers may not be interested it in. But you get little red puff balls, black pipe cleaners, black felt circles, and the googlie eyes. Glue the circles eyes and rolled pipe cleaners onto the puff ball to make a lady bug however you want it to look. Then as the kids are making it talk to them about focusing their attention on something that would make them smile, laugh and decrease their anger which is was the ladybugs could do. It is something they can carry around with them wherever they decide to go. I keep one in my purse and whenever I get mad, I pull it out and just holding it helps me calm down.
There are many different activities to do with kids to help them learn how to cope with their anger issues. The bubbles and balloon activities not only help them let go of their anger, but also teaches them breathing techniques while angry. The more you breathe calmly and deep the more relaxed you feel.