The best defense against life’s challenges is being prepared with a list of tried and true coping skills. But the truth is, so many of us are reluctant to take the time to unwind during stressful situations. This unhealthy habit of ignoring our need for relaxation and leisure is one that can easily be passed on to our children. And as kids’ schedules seem to grow busier and busier over time, the need for coping skills is becoming even more important. Fortunately, there are some steps that you can take to help your child learn to cope.
First and foremost, kids will need help to recognize and label their “stressed-out” feelings. Talk to your child about physical symptoms that they may be experiencing. An upset tummy, headache, jitters, moodiness, confusion, or changes in sleeping or eating habits can all be signs of too much stress among young people.
Work together to generate a list of fun and relaxing ideas to take your child’s mind off stressful situations. The activities can be individualized so that they fit for your child and your family. Make a point to actually record the ideas for coping skills so that when a stressful situation arises, kids can reach for that piece of paper and refer to it. This will help to give children a sense of mastery over their own stress.
And be honest with yourself. If your list of coping skills could use some sprucing up, it might be a good idea for you to complete this exercise as well. Setting a good example by caring for yourself will send a powerful message to your child.
If you need some inspiration, take a look at this great resource about coping skills that was developed by Indigo Daya: http://www.indigodaya.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Coping-skills-flyer.pdf