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2. Set

In this activity…

Students identify the difference between positive and negative coping strategies and recognize specific examples of each.


In this activity, students will work in groups of three to four. Each group will be given an envelope with examples of positive and negative coping skills and asked to sort the examples into their corresponding groups.

Before the lesson, download, and print enough copies of the coping skills examples document so that each group has one set of skills. Cut the pages so that each skill is separate and place them into an envelope.

Start by explaining that coping skills are strategies that students use to manage or minimize stress and overcome challenges in their everyday life. Let students know that these coping skills can be either healthy or unhealthy; positive or negative.

Explain that healthy coping skills tend to contribute positively to students’ mental or physical health in the long-term, but they may not provide immediate gratification. An example of a positive coping skill is journaling or social support. On the other hand, unhealthy coping skills tend to feel helpful and good in the moment but affect students’ mental or physical health negatively in the long-term. Examples of negative coping skills might include procrastination, avoidance, or lashing out.

Then, give each group of students an envelope containing the example coping strategies. Ask students to take the next six or seven minutes to collaboratively read through and categorize the coping strategies according to whether they are positive or negative. Once each group has sorted the coping strategies, review the correct categorizations as a class.

Before moving on, ask students if they have any questions about why a coping strategy has been classified as either positive or negative.

Coping Skills Sorting Game  available in downloads section.