Building coping skills in children and youth - A bouncing and stretching article

Learn how you can help your child learn to bounce back and stretch their limits when setbacks happen. Seven easy ways to build resilience in kids.

Children and youth are better prepared to handle all that life will throw at them when they learn positive ways to cope with stress. Coping is one of the 7 Cs of resilience. Parents and caregivers can play an active role in helping children develop healthy coping skills. These coping skills will assist children in becoming resilient and allow them to be able to bounce back from life’s challenges.

Dr. Kenneth Ginsberg suggests that helping children and youth build several coping skills can help children learn to effectively deal with stress.

Here are some tips to consider when helping to build coping skills in children and youth:

  • Be realistic: Skills change as children grow and develop, so be sure to recognize when children are overwhelmed and be willing to help them.
  • Model behaviors: Ensure you are a good role model for how to cope with stressful situations. Children will react in ways that are similar to how the significant adults in their life react to similar scenarios.
  • Identify and address the problem: Learn to notice the cause of stress and think about ways to solve the problem.
  • Avoid negativity: Identify the people, places or things that cause negative feelings or emotions and avoid them. If they are unavoidable, problem solve other solutions or options.
  • Let some things go: Know what problems or solutions are worth your time and let go of things that aren’t.
  • Contribute to the world: Contribution helps you connect to something bigger than the immediate problem or situation and can help reduce stress by producing positive emotions/feelings.
  • Listen to your body: Understand how your body reacts to stress and what helps resolve those feelings such as:
    • Exercising
    • Deep breathing
    • Yoga or meditation
    • Eating a well-balanced diet
    • Getting plenty of rest
    • Take care of your emotions: Recognize how stress makes you feel and learn what you can do to feel better such as:
      • Taking special time to do things that you enjoy.
      • Releasing emotional tension thorugh creative outlets, journaling, talking with a trusted friend, laughing, crying or making lists.

For a deeper look at helping to build coping skills in children and youth check out Building Resilience in Children and Teens by Dr. Kenneth Ginsberg. For more information and resources about developing resiliency in children and youth visit Fostering Resilience, the Search Institute and the Devereux Center for Resilient Children. For more articles on child development, academic success, parenting and life skill development, please visit the Michigan State University Extension website.

This is the sixth article in a series: Bouncing and Stretching, Building Competence in Children and Youth, Building Confidence in Children and Youth, Building Connection in Children and Youth, Building Character in Children and Youth and Building Contribution in Children and Youth.

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