Best Coping Mechanisms for Kids

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As an adult, having healthy coping strategies is extremely important. Coping skills involve regulating emotions and keeping them in check. For example, dealing with anxiety, feelings of depression, unease, and simple problems, are all considered coping skills.

However, healthy coping skills have to start at a young age. The earlier kids learn these emotional coping skills, the better they will deal with issues that arise in life. They need to be able to properly deal with their feelings.

This is opposed to turning to avoidance coping mechanisms, such as playing video games because their homework is too hard. The more extreme scenario would be turning to alcohol or drugs when they can’t deal with their emotions.

This article discusses the best coping mechanisms for kids. It will include teaching your child to deal with their emotions in healthy and productive ways.

The Best Coping Mechanisms for Kids

I have compiled a list of coping mechanisms for kids. However, everyone is different, so some may work for your kids, whereas others may not.

First, there are two types of coping skills.

The first is problem-focused coping, where your child learns to effectively deal with problems that arise in their life. This could be a problem with schoolwork or a bully on the school bus. It concerns solving a problem and reducing the stress and anxiety caused by it.

The second type is emotion-focused coping, which concerns their inner emotions. But, again, it’s about regulating their feelings when external factors cannot be changed.

Now, let’s look at various coping mechanisms for kids according to both types.

Problem Solving Coping Mechanisms for Kids

First, let’s look at some of the best problem-focused coping skills your kids need to learn. Here are some ways to help your child to come to a decision when they don’t know what to do.

Making Pros and Cons Lists

One of the best coping mechanisms for decision-making is a simple pros and cons list. You can help your child write down every option’s positive and negative aspects.

First, your child should be able to identify the issue. Once that has been done, they can create a list of pros and cons. This also allows a child to visually see all of the pros and cons of their options on paper.

It is crucial for them to weigh the options. Part of this process involves considering the possible outcomes of any decision as it allows the child to engage in logical and rational thought. It also forces them to take a step back and to take time to consider the issue.

Asking for Help

One of the most straightforward problem-solving coping mechanisms for anyone is to ask for help. Kids need to learn that other people can help solve a problem they might be facing. They also need to know there is no shame in asking for help.

They also need to learn to identify who might help with an issue. For instance, a child might learn that an emotional problem is something that their parents can help with. On the other hand, a teacher or school counselor can address academic issues. The bottom line is that it is very empowering to know that you can ask for help without any shame.

Do Some Logical Problem Solving

The best mechanism for solving a problem is, well, problem-solving itself. Often when there is an issue, a child might not know what they should do. They need to learn logical thought and critical thinking to solve problems.

Problem-solving is an important life skill. Your child first needs to identify the problem and then develop various solutions. They should also be able to identify possible outcomes of those solutions.

Keep in mind solving an issue could be as simple as researching it online or asking for help. The simple fact is that kids need to learn to face a problem instead of ignoring it.

Emotional Coping Mechanisms for Kids

Now that your child knows how to deal with external problems, let’s look at coping mechanisms for their emotions.

Learning Positive Thinking – Positive Self Affirmations

When children have emotional issues, they are likely to say negative things about themselves. Something like, “Everybody is going to make fun of me,” is a prime example. A great coping mechanism for kids is to engage in positive self-talk.

Ask your child what they might say to one of their friends who has such an issue. The supportive words they would give their friend should be used for themselves.

They need to use kind and positive words in ways that will boost their own confidence. These are known as positive self-affirmations.

Breathing Exercises

One of the best emotional coping mechanisms is breathing exercises. Breathing exercises allow both the mind and the body to calm down. It will let your child take a step back from the situation.

The best breathing exercise is to slowly inhale through the nose, hold it in for a few seconds, and then exhale through the mouth. Breathing exercises calm people, and this goes for both children and adults. I frequently use this technique with my anxious patients at the office.

Making Art

Coping with emotional issues doesn’t always mean solving those issues; sometimes, just expressing and understanding them is enough. This is where art comes in.

Artwork can be very expressive in terms of emotions. This can help your child express their feelings in ways they otherwise couldn’t. Some people aren’t great at verbally expressing their feelings, so this is always a great option.

Best Coping Mechanisms for Kids

Identify Feelings

Children often can’t cope with emotions simply because they cannot identify them. Moreover, sometimes those emotions are uncomfortable or unpleasant to feel. Therefore, your child needs to learn that expressing their feelings to other people is OK.

They also need to learn that emotions are part of being human and that it’s OK to have these feelings. However, not expressing their emotions is unhealthy. They need to identify those feelings and tell others about them.

Get Some Exercise

When kids are anxious or nervous, a tremendous amount of energy is generated internally. This is when exercise can help get rid of excess energy.

Exercise will also get their mind off their negative emotions. It also causes the brain to release certain chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine, which help decrease anxiety and depression.

Exercise also reduces cortisol in the brain, the hormone known for creating stress. It also allows children to step back from their emotions until they are calm enough to rationally deal with them.

Make a Mood Booster List

A good way for children to deal with negative emotions is to engage in activities that make them feel happy. Therefore, task your child with making a list of so-called mood-boosting activities. These are things that they enjoy doing and provide happiness.

This could be artwork, playing a video game, playing sports, telling jokes, dancing, cooking, or anything else. If your child isn’t happy, doing something that they generally enjoy is a great way to cope with negative emotions.

Final Thoughts

Whether we are talking about problem- or emotion-focused coping, there are essential skills your children need to learn.

Coping mechanisms will help your child deal with various problems, both in childhood and adulthood. In addition, these skills create a more well-rounded, balanced, and stable human being.

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