Exercise #1: Start by facing into the waves so you can see them coming. At first, you'll feel more comfortable paddling into the waves as they come. A kayak is most stable when you're actively paddling it. Like riding a bike, it's more stable in motion, plus you have the support of your paddle in the water.
Exercise #2: Next, paddle out a few waves and turn around, so they're coming from behind you. Paddle slowly towards the beach so you can get used to the feeling of how they lift the back of the boat and pass under it.
The waves want to push you towards the beach. But kayaking isn't about what the waves want to do, it's about what you want to do. So here are a couple of exercises to help you develop your boat control in the waves.
Exercise #3: Instead of paddling forward with the wave, stop yourself on the wave with backwards strokes. The wave will slip out from underneath you in no time.
Exercise #4: Next, try taking advantage of where the wave wants to go by riding it. As you feel it lift the back of the boat, take a couple of quick strokes forward. They'll keep you on the wave longer, so it will push you farther towards the beach. If you lean forward at the same time, you'll get even more of a ride from the wave.
If you back-paddle as waves lift the back of your boat, they slip right under you.
Sitting up straight when you back paddle slows the boat so the waves slip by you faster.
If you paddle forward as the waves come, you can ride them.
Leaning forward when you're on the wave speeds the boat for a better ride.
Use a stern-rudder for directional control and support
Exercise #5: Once you feel in command of what you're doing, try riding waves backwards. Park yourself facing the waves again, but instead of paddling out through them, stay in place and let them come to you. If you feel yourself being turned to one side or the other, you can simply drag your paddle blade to straighten yourself out. The idea is not to become a backwards surfer, but by learning to maintain your station in the midst of waves, you'll gain a much more lively sense of boat control – as well as confidence.