The ability to cope is not something we are born with. Coping involves emotional and practical skills that our children learn through both observation and direct teaching. As parents it is our job to not only celebrate the good times but also prepare them for the bad times as well. Every disappointment in a child’s life is an opportunity to show them that they are strong enough to overcome it.
Here are some ways we can encourage healthy coping skills:
DON’T ignore a problem. Avoiding the problem will only worsen with time. DO encourage your child to face their problems, facing small problems gives them the practice they need to solve big ones. It is also important to teach your child when and how to reach out for support when life hands them a big one.
DON’T step in too soon. We have to let our children learn how to handle situations by themselves without always coming to their rescue. DO have confidence in your child, with our help they can learn to use their hearts and minds to handle a difficult situation.
DON’T agree with your child that life is unfair, or mean. Yes, it may be true sometimes but having a negative attitude about life will leave them unhappy. DO acknowledge that sometimes life is unfair and people are mean but if there is nothing we can do about a negative situation we need to teach our children not to dwell on it and move on.
DON’T let yourself get down or depressed if your child is depressed. It adds more burden to the problem because kids don’t want to see their parents sad. DO teach your child to engage with problems. Have them talk out exactly what happened and why. Work together to decide what they can change and what they can’t. You may not be able to change a situation but you can always learn something from it.
DON’T accept tantrums, acting out, or helplessness. No problem has ever been solved by tempers, aggression, or just giving up. DO listen and support their feelings, we need to let our children know that it is okay to let their emotions out, but not to make someone the target. It is important to teach your child how to calm themselves down and get past their feelings.
If you have a child that is not coping well and you are having a hard time dealing with their depression, anger or tantrums, let us know! We can help teach your child coping skills that they will need to get past big or small problems that they may face now and in the future.