Several years ago, I worked in a middle school with some tough kids. There was one kid in particular I had a good connection with and I really enjoyed meeting with him. He had a good sense of humor, he had a really kind heart, he was a good big brother...and he was really angry.
I remember he came to my office one day with his fists balled up, his face was bright red and I knew he was going to punch someone. I thought fast, and brought him down to a gym space and had him punch a big mat. It took a few minutes, but he was eventually able to calm down and return to class.
He was still angry, but he had an experience where he successfully got out his anger and didn’t hurt anyone or get in trouble. Was he a perfect angel after this? No, but I do hope that I planted a seed to help him realize he can express his anger safely.
Over the years, here are a few ideas I’ve gathered for helping to get out excess energy or big feelings.
Take a walk
Jumping Jacks, Push ups or Sit-ups - It might be helpful to set a certain number, e.g. do 15 jumping jacks. I sometimes would use this when I had really active social groups. We’d stop and do a couple of physical exercises and then move on to the next item on our group plan.
Play a sport
Use a punching bag
Pop bubble wrap - My own children love doing this. If they have a lot of energy or if it’s a rainy day, I’ll bring up some from the basement and let them jump and pop away.
What are some of your ideas for physical coping skills?
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