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For people with Down syndrome, family members, caregivers and professionals.

Calming vs. Coping Strategies

June 2023 | Abby Rowley, LCSW - Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Adult Down Syndrome Center

What is the difference between calming and coping strategies?

Many times, we use the terms "calming" and "coping" interchangeably. There is often overlap in the strategies that people use to help themselves calm down and cope with difficult feelings or situations. In our groups for individuals with Down syndrome, we discuss that some feelings come and go quickly, and we can use calming strategies to manage them. Other feelings linger, so we would need to use a calming strategy in the immediate moment, as well as a coping strategy once we have calmed down from the initial emotional response.

For example, if you are having a disagreement with another person, you might choose to walk away from the conversation as a calming strategy and a way to cope with your feelings of frustration. However, the disagreement may leave you still feeling unsettled hours or even days later. In this case, you would want to use an additional coping strategy to manage those feelings. The coping strategy might include talking about your feelings or reframing your thoughts about the situation. 

The handout pictured below describes calming and coping strategies. It can be a good visual reminder of strategies that can be used to manage our emotions and feelings.

Calming vs. Coping Visual opens in new window




Additional visuals

Strategies to Help Me Calm Down opens in new window

Things I Can Do to Help Me Calm Down opens in new window

Compromise opens in new window

Opposite Actions

"I" Statements

Reframing our Thoughts


Find More Resources

We offer a variety of resources for people with Down syndrome, their families and caregivers and the professionals who care for and work with them. Search our collection of articles, webinars, videos, and other educational materials.

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Please note: The information on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for a medical, psychiatric, mental health, or behavioral evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment plan by a qualified professional. We recommend you review the educational material with your health providers regarding the specifics of your health care needs.