For every parent, developing healthy coping mechanisms in their children may not be their priority — but this shouldn’t be the case. Especially in the current circumstances, your child might be under pressure far more than you think.
Children who haven’t really been taught at a young age how they can effectively manage stressful situations may eventually find it difficult to use healthier methods later on in life. They may resort to tactics that may not address the root of the problem at all. But with your guidance, here’s how you can assist them.
Unhealthy coping mechanisms in adults may appear in the form of avoidant behavior — they engage in acts that allow them to momentarily forget about their problems. In many cases, this behavior may be traced right back to childhood, especially in children who weren’t taught how to deal with emotions.
As a parent, it’s important for you to help your child understand what they’re feeling. When your child approaches you, it’s important not to be dismissive of them. Instead, you’ll want to encourage them to speak up. For example, one of your child’s closest friends has to move to another country and because your child doesn’t understand the concept of loss, they may be confused.
As such, it’s crucial that you devote a few minutes of your time to talk to them about it. Explain the situation to them in a language that they can understand without sacrificing the true intent of the message.
Children may be prone to triggers even at their age. Though it may not always be the cause, triggers may be traced back to traumatic experiences in childhood which was left unresolved and have been carried over to adulthood.
Fortunately, you can assist your child even while they are young. For example, do they react negatively when they don’t get their favorite snack? It may be best for you to calmly explain to them why it’s not possible. Have they been in a low mood lately since starting distance learning? Approach them and spend a few moments of downtime.
No matter how good you may be at helping your child cope with stressful situations, it may all be rendered moot if you don’t set an example for them. To effectively teach your child how to cope, it should ultimately begin with you.
Let’s say for example that you’re having a stressful day at work. When you find yourself constantly taking it out on your child, then they may unwittingly follow in your footsteps. They may easily project an angry reaction in their future experiences.
Instead of this, why not try to calm yourself down first? Try doing relaxing activities such as reading a book, or light exercises like yoga. It may also be helpful for you to work on your breathing. If possible, allow your child to join you. Once they more consistently see you taking the steps for a positive outlook, then they may be able to emulate it in these as well.
The road to developing healthy coping mechanisms in children may be challenging, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything about it. It may take a long time before you may become fully accustomed to how your child reacts to negative reactions. In much the same way, they’ll also be used to simple, yet positively-lasting techniques that they can bring with themselves as they begin facing more complicated situations.