Four steps to teach students how to cope with emotions


Between school pressure, the high expectations of social networks or the influence of problems at home, more and more students are reporting anxiety and depression problems.

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Beyond the cause behind the student's stress or mental health problems, what they have in common is the inability to cope with stressors. To help her students, high school special education teacher, Michele Lew, developed four steps to encourage self-awareness to identify feelings and process them in a positive and self-regulated way.

The four steps to building resilience in students

  1. According to the teacher, first it is necessary to teach students to identify what stresses them so that they can recognize how they feel and why they feel that way. To do this, she developed a form. After completing this form, students share what makes them feel stressed, upset or sad. This creates a safe and inclusive community among the class, free from prejudice.

  2. The second step is to identify the behavior students develop when they are presented with stressors. To do this, they write their initial reaction to each factor without considering whether it is a good or bad reaction using this format. Then, students must fill out a third sheet to assess their reactions, where 1 is the worst reaction and 5 the best. At the end, each student shares one of his evaluations with his classmates and explains why he rated it that way. This aims for each student to objectively observe and evaluate their actions.

  3. The third step is a brainstorm on different ways to respond to stressors. It is necessary to talk about coping skills such as making conscious efforts to minimize anxiety or dealing with a problem in a positive and constructive way. In this step students must answer a final form that requires students to reflect on their initial reaction to a stressful situation and learn to replace negative reactions with better ways to deal with it. The objective of this stage is that they learn to channel their emotions in a positive way.

  4. Finally, to continue developing skills to face difficult moments, perseverance is key. Michele Law dedicates five minutes before each class so that the students share how they have applied what they learned in the forms and to make a collective reflection among the whole class.

Coping skills help us develop resilience, self-awareness, self-awareness, and self-regulation as it teaches how to deal with emotions and reactions. Also, learning to cope with negative factors successfully is a skill that will help students be successful well beyond the classroom.