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Teaching Kids How to Cope

How to Develop the Vitally Important Skill

Playing soccer, baking cookies, playing the guitar, and writing poetry—they are four different activities with one common theme: coping skills for children.

In today’s world with a bigger drive and a more open mind to take care of our mental health, we focus on what our children can do to help their own.

It’s an important concern and one that, in certain ways, has already been addressed by naturally being a kid. Coping skills play an important role to help us regulate and process the tough events in our lives. For adults, we tend to default on classic thought analysis, deep breathing, and meditation. For children, however, this is not always possible, especially with all the developmental changes happening.

Luckily, childhood is full of opportunities to explore different types of coping skills that can distract, regulate, and process the everyday stressors of being a kid. So exactly what type of activities can parents encourage and teach their children to do to learn to cope? This varies by a child’s interest, but there are big themes to focus on: physical activity, expressive arts, and relaxation skills.

The Big Themes

Physical activity skills can be anything from playing a school sport to going for a walk. Expressive arts skills can be things like crafting, creating music, or writing. Relaxation skills are activities like listening to calming music, watching a funny TV show, or working on a puzzle.


What Can You Do As a Parent

As a parent, you can further help teach your child any of the skills by joining your child in any of the activities and reflecting on how the activity helped. Using questions like, "Do you feel emotionally different from before we did the activity versus after? How so?” or “Does it feel like you can put more order to your thoughts now about what was bothering you?” can help a child realize how the skill helps them or if they need to find something different. Overall, the best way to teach your child a coping skill is to model your own and talk about how it helps. 

Elizabeth Worton, LPC, is a therapist at Ellie Mental Health South Chandler.