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Coping Skills for Kids, part 1

Today’s post is a basic description of coping skills.  You probably already know all of this, but sometimes we all need a refresher.  (or is that just me?)  ;^)

A coping skill is any trick, technique, or habit that you use to “deal with” something.  For example:

  • When you feel anxious, you might say to yourself: “I’m okay, I can handle this, it’s
    going to be okay.”  That’s called “positive self-talk. 
  • Going for a walk is a positive and healthy coping skill.  A fast walk uses physical
    exercise to moderate/expend the excess energy and brain chemicals that strong emotions produce. 
  • Asking for a hug from someone you love.  That hug helps us cope in many ways: it reminds of of our connection to another; it produces oxytocin–a ‘feel good’ brain chemical; and it provides physical grounding.  Plus, it just feels good.  :^)
  • Other examples of grown-up coping skills: scrubbing the tub, mountain biking, talking to your best friend, journaling, drawing/making art, cooking, singing, playing guitar, gardening, meditation/praying, playing, deep breathing.

There is also such a thing as a negative coping skill.  For example, alcohol/drugs, withdrawing from social contacts, or even veg-ing out in front of the TV can each be negative coping skills.  A little of any of these coping skills is fine and normal.  However, using them too often, too much, or exclusively causes side effects that make things worse.

As adults, we take for granted how many coping skills we’ve developed over the years.   But  trust me–you do know a lot!  It’s just that your coping skills are so familiar to you now that they are invisible.  ;^)

Come back tomorrow for more details on how to help your child improve their coping skills.