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Human emotions are very complex and dealing with them can be an equally challenging task! These emotions can sometimes take a toll on adults’ minds and psyche, but as adults, we may still be able to manage them effectively. However, that may not be the case with young growing minds. Kids, unlike adults, may not be able to manage and control their emotions and sometimes may feel overwhelmed when it comes to dealing with their feelings and emotions. Children need help and care when it comes to coping with emotions and feelings and that is where the need for coping skills and strategies arise. In this post, we will help you learn how you can help your kid in learning coping skills and strategies!
What Are Coping Skills?
Kids go through a number of emotions on a day-to-day basis, in the same way, we adults do! This means that kids also feel sad, angry, frustrated, bored, anxious, embarrassed, disappointed, and various other such emotions. However, they may not know how to cope or deal with such emotions. It is important that kids need to learn effective coping skills that can help them in managing their emotions in a healthy manner.
In simple words, coping skills are ways of thinking and actions that can help in dealing with difficult situations and managing overwhelming emotions.
Importance of Coping Skills for Kids
If your kid lacks coping mechanisms or skills, you may find your kid behaving in an erratic or weird manner and that may tell you that something is bothering the child. If a kid is not taught effective and healthy coping strategies then it is quite likely that he may take refuge in unhealthy coping skills and strategies as he would grow.
For instance, if your kid did not understand a concept in the class and is unable to do his homework based on that and instead prefers watching television, this behaviour indicates that instead of choosing to solve his problem, the child preferred neglecting it because he didn’t know how to deal with the frustration and anxiety associated with his homework.
According to one study, it has been observed that kids who lacked coping skills were more likely to succumb to substance abuse. Whereas, another study showed that kids who were taught coping skills in early childhood enjoyed better overall well-being as they grew.
How Can Parents Teach Coping Skills to Their Children?
Coping skills are not something that we have in us or we are born with but these are the kind of skills that we need to practice to master. It is never too late or for that matter too early to introduce such coping skills to your kids because these skills will assist them in facing life’s challenges in a better way. Here are some ways of teaching child anxiety coping skills:
1. Establish the Triggers
What are the things or situations that make your kid act a certain way? Well, that is something that you need to establish to help your kid cope and overcome. For instance, does your child get angry when you switch off the TV? Well, you can give a little heads up and ask him to switch it off after 5 minutes. If you are not able to establish the triggers, you may need to observe your child closely for the same.
2. Help Them in Finding Words
Kids are naïve when it comes to describing how they may be feeling. Therefore, as a parent, you can help your kid understand emotions or feelings that he may be going through by prompting him with words. If they are unable to put their feelings in words, they may find it hard to express. For example, ask him about how he is feeling by helping him with words like sad, embarrassed, hurt, etc.
3. Be Attentive
When your kid approaches you with a problem make sure you listen to him attentively. It is difficult for kids to come up to their parents when it comes to expressing emotions, therefore, any distraction on your part may further tick them off. Make sure you focus on your kid as you restate his feelings and ask related questions.
4. Let Your Kid Be
It is important for the kid to understand all the feelings to help cope better. Therefore, it is absolutely fine to let them be with their feelings or emotions for a while. However, make sure they are not immersed in that state for too long that it starts affecting their regular life.
5. Appreciate Your Kid
One of the best ways of teaching any skill to a child by appreciating or praising the child when he makes endeavours in learning them. For example, if he switches off the TV before you asked him to do so, make sure you acknowledge his little efforts by praising him.
Healthy and Effective Coping Strategies for Children
Just the way you teach your kids to express their feelings and emotions, you can also teach them how to manage and cope with them effectively by using some effective and healthy coping strategies. Following are some coping skills for kindergarteners and older kids:
Problem-Specific Coping Skills
These kinds of skills are helpful and effective under situations where your child has some kind of control over the entire situation. Here are some problem-specific coping skills:
- Make a Pros And Cons List : When the child is in a dilemma as to what to choose or opt for, you can ask him to make a pros and cons list. For example, if he is unable to establish whether to join an art or dance class, help him weigh the pros and cons by making a list and thereby taking an informed decision about the same.
- Involve Your Kid In Problem-Solving: Instead of offering a solution to your kid’s problem on the platter, involve him in it by asking him how he would like to approach that problem. Pen down a few solutions and ask him to pick the one that suits him best the best. Slowly your child will learn to solve his own issues.
- Seek Help: When stuck in a situation, it is absolutely fine to ask for help and the same has to be communicated to your kid. It is a way of empowering your kid by letting him know that not all things can be done on your own and seeking help is a great way of solving issues. For example, if your kid is unable to master a subject, you can ask him to ask for help from fellow classmates, teachers or even ask him if he needs the help of a tutor.
Emotion-Specific Coping Skills
Emotion-specific coping skills come handy where it may not be possible to change situations or circumstances and thus, such learning such skills can help kids in dealing with their feelings:
- Indulge in Breathing Exercises: Deep and slow breathing is a great way of calming and relaxing troubled minds and feelings. Ask your kid to inhale and exhale deeply as doing so several times can help him feel better.
- Encourage Reading: Reading is one of the best ways to distract one’s mind. When your kid is battling with his emotions, ask him to distract his feelings by reading a good book. Once your child finishes reading, you may notice him be calmer and more prepared to deal with his emotions.
- Acknowledge and Label Feelings: Putting words to feelings can sometimes help kids deal with them effectively. If your kid is struggling to find the correct words for his feelings, you can help him do so by verbalising his feelings and talking about them.
- Exercising: Exercising is a great way of channelizing your kiddo’s energy and it also helps in uplifting and boosting his moods. Aerobic and strength training exercises are a great way of regulating emotions and feelings of a young mind.
- Practising Yoga: Yoga is a great practice to feel relaxed and rejuvenated. This ancient Indian practice not only helps in boosting physical health but it also improves the emotional well-being of anyone who practices it and the same applies to young kids.
- Art and Craft: One of the best coping strategies for kids is to get involved in any kind of arts and crafts activity. Painting, sculpting, doodling, colouring, etc prove to be helpful coping strategies for kids.
- Play : Have you ever seen a child gleaming with happiness and joy when he is playing with his friends or family? Well, we all will agree that kids enjoy playing games and what better way to put rest to things that are making them upset. Get your kiddo’s mind off something that is upsetting him by playing any game with him. Play a board game or simply go out and play with the ball, do something that would distract your kid’s mind.
- Watch Something Funny : A rib-tickling movie, a funny video or some crazy memes, watch anything that would make your child laugh off his problems. Laughing is a great way of calming and soothing anyone’s mind and the same holds true for kids as well.
- Music: Playing or listening, music can help in every way! Music has calming effects on our mind and body. Help your kid to cope with his difficult emotions by listening to his favourite music or composing something on his favourite musical instrument.
- Prepare a Mood-Booster List: Make a list of things that make your kid happy and when he is feeling upset, ask him to choose activities from the list that he may want to do to boost his mood. It may happen that your kid may resent or hesitate to do anything on his own, well, you can always nudge him a bit in doing what he likes.
These above-mentioned coping skills games and activities are very effective in helping the kids in managing their feelings and emotions.
Other Examples of Coping Strategies
Here are some other examples of coping strategies that you can try:
- Make your kid think about something or some memory that would make him laugh.
- Ask your kid to look at a picture and think of a pleasant or happy memory associated with it.
- Spend some time cuddling with pets.
- Play with building blocks, play dough, or other such constructive toys.
- Help your kid pen down his thoughts.
- Ask your kid to take a bubble bath.
- Ask your kid to close his eyes and count backwards from 100 to 1.
- Ask your kid to drink a glass of cold water.
- Ask your kid to squeeze a stress ball.
- Ask your kid to play some music and dance.
Teaching coping strategies to kids is a great way of helping them in understanding how to manage their emotions and to be resilient. Helping them in feeling better about their emotions and feelings by sharpening their coping skills makes them better prepared to deal with any kind of emotional upheaval in the future!