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Valentines and Coping Skills

One of the coping skills I teach in counseling is healthy self-soothing -- how to calm down when overwhelmed by anxiety, anger, or stress.  (Cutting, lashing out, or abusing drugs or alcohol are examples of unhealthy self-soothing.)  In therapy we learn new ways to cope.  We practice mindfully calming our nervous system, stressful thoughts, and feelings through sensory soothing -- literally using our senses of touch, smell, sight, taste, and hearing to ground us in the present moment and alleviate stress. 

Kinetic sand is fun way to practice healthy self-soothing.  Kids are mesmerized by the stuff! It's amazing to see how quickly their energy changes as they dig their hands into the soft and pliable sand. I offer the box of Kinetic sand to teenagers and adults to play with while they talk.  If I notice them wringing their hands or picking at their cuticles while they talk, I offered them this alternative way to self-soothe. One mom told me she made herself a little box of the sand to keep in her car and would squeeze it when after school pick up got stressful.

Part of using sand in therapy is also providing a container.  Literally this means that the sand belongs in a plastic Gladeware container with a lid.  We practice boundaries by keeping the sand in the box.  Therapy also provides a container for all the overwhelming thoughts and feelings that we struggle to cope with.  By "dumping" them out in the office, the therapist and the space serve as a container to hold what is often too much for to hold on your own.

Since Kinetic sand is such a hit, I wanted to incorporate it in a little Valentine to give to my counseling kiddos so they could some of their own Kinetic sand to use away from therapy.  I bought a big 3lb bag of the sand and found these cute heart-shaped containers to hold a few scoops. 

Want to make Kinetic Sand Valentines?  Here's the supplies you would need:

This was fun to make and play with! Check the videos on my @takecareclub Instagram post to see the sand in action.  I look forward to giving these out this week as Valentines gifts that reinforce fun and healthy self-soothing coping skills!

Curious if counseling would benefit you or your kid? Check out my FAQ page to learn more. Sign up for the Take Care Club email newsletter to stay in the loop about more fun ways to cope!


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