Teaching coping skills to children

Teaching coping skills to children

We all have different coping skills that we use to cope up in times of distress. These skills serve us in a way that makes it easier to handle stressors. However, coping skills can be both healthy and unhealthy. Of course, having healthy coping skills is a better way to deal with stress in long term. Having healthy coping skills will help us to continue thriving and not just surviving even when we are in a tough situation. If you have healthy coping skills, wouldn’t you want your child to have healthy coping skills as well? Teaching coping skills to children can make your child more resilient and mentally healthy.

Types of coping skills

Solution Focused– These coping skills involve doing something in order to change the situation. These skills help to allow kids to take control of a challenging situation. These skills usually work in situations that can be changed.

  1. Listing the pros and cons

Making a list of pros and cons usually helps to clear out the mind and see the right steps that need to be taken. This strategy is used even by adults when they find themselves in a fix. With children, this will help to put things into perspective and help them understand what they want.

  1. Communicating

Often the simplest of things are the hardest too. It will help to remind children that they can always talk to an adult or even a friend if they are stressed. Talking to somebody may actually help them solve a problem. Talking to adults may help them come up with a solution.

  1. Asking for help

Children need to be reminded that they will always get help when they need it. No matter what the situation they are in, they can always approach an adult around them for help. For example, if a child is feeling scared or anxious while attending school, they should be able to go to the teacher and talk about it.

 

Emotion-Focused – These coping skills help children deal with situations that cannot be changed. These skills help kids cope up with the stressors and builds resilience which is essential for long-term development.

  1. Deep Breathing exercises

Deep breathing helps immensely in times of anxiety and stress. Breathing is one of the most natural things we do. But in times of stress, we forget to breathe often leading to a decrease in oxygen and that leads to panic. Teaching your kids to take deep breaths when feeling extreme emotions will help them calm down and make peace with the situation.

  1. Physical activities

It is no secret that doing any physical activity like walking, yoga, or dancing boosts our mood as endorphins are released in our brain. Endorphins are also called happy hormones and they regulate our moods instantly. So this strategy will help your kids for life.

  1. Label Feelings

Identifying and labeling what they are feeling in that moment will help your child process the emotion. Saying, ‘ I feel upset’ or ‘I feel angry’ can make it easy for the child to undergo discomfort. It will also help them make sense of that emotion. Using emotion flashcards or using images of different emotions can be a way of familiarizing your child with different emotions.

  1. Positive self-affirmations

When children feel sad or are upset, their self-talk usually becomes negative. Their thoughts might sound like, ‘I will embarrass myself’ or ‘I am such a loser’. Teaching them to be kind to themselves using positive self-talk will help. Positive affirmations can be a great way to boost their self-confidence. It will also teach them self-compassion in times of distress.

  1. Calming hobbies

Hobbies are something we all enjoy so it is no surprise that when we are stressed, doing what we enjoy will help us feel better and be cathartic in alleviating our stress. Similarly, letting your kids pursue a hobby and using it as a coping mechanism will be a great help. Activities like painting, listening to music, playing an instrument, etc. helps calm down children’s nervous system and boosts their mood. These will act as a coping mechanism that will stay with them for life.

 

Takeaway

Having healthy coping mechanisms will ultimately help your child feel better in times of discomfort. By equipping your children with these healthy coping skills, you are inadvertently also boosting their mental health, self-esteem and making them into self-sufficient individuals. Having these coping mechanisms will ensure that they remain mentally healthy in the long run and form effective support systems as well.

 

Sayee Deshpande
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