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Back Pocket is an evidence-based, trauma-informed coping skills program for kids

We’ve broken down the jargon, and produced a program that, quite literally, gives kids coping skills they can carry in their back pocket to use when the going gets tough.

The problem:
Kids are more disconnected and distracted than ever

Kids today are growing up in a completely new set of circumstances. The events of the past few years, coupled with a generation being raised on tablets and social media has created the perfect storm. Studies show repeatedly that screen time is dominoing into disconnection, and often, depression.

  • A systematic review of 87 studies including 159,425 children 12 years or younger showed significant correlation between higher amounts of screen time and behavioral problems 1

  • A study of 1,649 participants revealed that social media, even when used for the purposes of maintaining social connections, makes people feel lonelier 2

  • An eight-year study reveals that childhood loneliness is a predictor of depression during adolescence 3

Kids are struggling with their mental health at never before seen rates

Nobody feels the impacts of these problems more than parents and educators. Even as students grapple with their mental health, educators are grappling with the fallout. The burden of this phenomenon is causing people to leave the field in droves.

  • The number of children experiencing depression and anxiety has nearly doubled that of pre-pandemic numbers 4

  • Public schools in the US are reporting a 56% increase in student misconduct compared to pre-pandemic levels 5

  • The number of teachers quitting has reached an all time high, with many educators citing student behavior as a driving factor 6

Breathing techniques as a way to manage stress

We want to teach kids that:​

  1. Stress is an unavoidable part of life, and that

  2. Most of the time, you can manage it on your own

The breathing techniques we teach are part of our practical, right-now toolkit to help kids cope when the going gets tough, and they’re backed by very real science.

  • Diaphragmatic breathing has been shown to improve attention and focus, and reduce stress. 13

  • Abdominal breathing is a way to counteract shallow, stressed breathing, and can help to control the nervous system, helping the body to relax 14

  • Slow-breathing provides a sense of calm and alertness, and is proven to reduce symptoms of anger, anxiety, and depression 15

Proof that distraction sometimes really IS the best medicine

Back Pocket teaches distraction techniques that have been proven to help kids handle stress and combat negative emotions.

  • Distraction has been proven to combat negative emotions 16

  • Several studies confirm that using distractions can help to shift our attention away from negative experiences, improving mood, and even reducing symptoms of disease 17

Showing kids that giving back gives to themselves, too

Volunteering and connecting with community can have profound positive impacts on mental health. Back Pocket teaches kids how they can use giving back as a lever to improve their own well being, and create a productive cycle of happy hormones.

  • Providing emotional support to others has been clinically proven to improve emotional self-regulation 18

  • Giving to others have been shown to have a greater positive effect on emotional resilience than receiving 19

  • Volunteering is proven to reduce stress and releases the happy hormone, dopamine, in addition to reducing the risk of anxiety, depression, and even stroke and heart disease! 20


Expressing gratitude as a means of self care

It can’t be said enough: expressing and truly feeling grateful improves quality of life. We teach kids the importance of going beyond the superficial gratitude lists, and digging deep into the feelings behind the words.

  • Gratitude can decrease the risk of depression, anxiety, and even the risk of disease 21

  • Gratitude reduces feelings of envy, frustration, resentment, and regret, and can even improve sleep 22

  • Expressing gratitude is even linked to a lower incidence of heart disease and improved overall physical health 23

Leveraging the power of positive thinking for personal and academic well-being

The intrinsic link between happy people and success has been thoroughly studied, and it’s led to something of a chicken and the egg conversation: which came first, success, or happiness?


The truth is, positive thinking leads to a higher likelihood of success, in all areas of life. Back Pocket teaches kids how to leverage positive self-talk to help themselves feel better.

  • Positive thinking is proven to improve emotional resilience and reduce the risk of dpression 24

  • Cynical brains can literally be rewired for positivity, resulting in a longer, happier life 25

Teaching kids to self-limit technology for their mental health

As educators, we know that technology can be a powerful tool for the classroom, as much as it can be a persistent distraction. In Back Pockets, we teach students the importance of limiting screen time to protect their mental health.


It’s not a lecture — it’s the push they need to do what’s right for themselves.

  • Too much screen time could lead to negative impacts on mental health 26

  • Excessive screen time has been associated with lower overall physical and mental health in children 27

  • Children who overuse screens have been shown to have higher emotional reactivity and lower stress resilience 28

Putting social media into perspective for kids

Social media can be a pathway to connection, and a conduit for chaos. Back Pocket teaches kids the potential downsides of excessive social media use, so they can self-regulate for their own mental health.

  • Excessive social media use has been linked in several studies to increased risk for depression and anxiety in children and teenagers 29

  • Studies show that a dependency on social media for connection deprives children of the experience needed for healthy communication, and can lead to callous and insecure behavior 30

  • 25% of adolescents believe social media’s downsides outweigh its benefits 31

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