How Parents Can Model Coping Skills for Their Kids
In my previous 3 articles, I have talked about helping kids develop good coping skills: Can You Teach Coping Skills to Your Kid?, Two Steps to Help Your Kids Develop Coping Skills, and Teach Kids Coping Skills by Modeling Correct Behaviors. In today’s article we’ll continue the discussion on how parents can model effective coping skills.
5 Healthy Coping Responses
- Letting out aggression in an appropriate manner – If you’ve been angry enough to hit something, then you know the wonderful and cathartic feeling of punching your pillow, hitting some tennis balls at the court, or some baseball practice time at the batting cages. Kids could also benefit from similar opportunities. Whether it involves hitting a pillow or (when they’re older), hitting a few golf balls at the driving range, it can be beneficial. Sometimes, these kinds of activities in a safe and appropriate environment, together with your support and other healthy coping skills mentioned, can help your kid work through some powerful feelings.
- Allowing them to assert themselves verbally – Give kids choices regarding ways they could successfully assert themselves. Or maybe they need to say “STOP!” to someone who is making them angry. Teaching kids to stand up for themselves and communicate effectively is essential in building their coping skills.
- Noticing the impact of their actions – Discuss how their actions might influence another person’s feelings. Teach your kids to notice the impact of their actions and how they influence others, by talking about it.
- Modeling empathetic behavior – Through your own behavior, your kids will see what an empathetic person looks like; how that person acts. When you respond to your kids with empathy and regard their feelings as important, they learn to imitate and value the feelings of others with respect, too.
- Practicing to create mastery – Provide many opportunities for practicing how to cope in different situations. There are teachable moments in every day. Look for chances to help your kids see how their actions and feelings may affect others.
You should modify these options to suit your child’s age, developmental level, and cultural factors.
What happens if you “lose it”?
So, you are doing a great job modeling and coaching your kid through coping with challenging emotions. You have been helping your kids communicate, identify their feelings, and face their fears. Not to mention helping them learn to manage stress and frustration. You’re doing well, until…one day they catch you “losing it!” They overhear you curse and react toward someone in an unfair manner. Now what?
Worried about your credibility? Do you think one bad incident out-weighs all the hard work and teachings over the past few years? Do you feel that with one big mistake, you have managed to erase years of forming your kids’ young minds? You know the answer is, “No!” One moment of poor judgement where you lost your control is not detrimental. There is always a solution.
- First, be honest with your kids. Admit to your error in judgement and making a poor choice.
- Second, discuss how you are going to right the wrong. Short and sweet.
- Third, if appropriate (or applicable), ask for forgiveness.
By doing the above, you will secure your credibility and your kids can continue to count on you for being honest and a good role model when it comes to teaching good coping skills.
This is an excerpt from my book: “Create Happy Kids”
I am a parent strategist, and am available to do Parent Education Workshops, either Private or PTA Sponsored Classes.
Contact me at 425-772-6698.