Feelings of stress and anxiety are a normal fact of life for both adults and children. This reality, while unpleasant, is best dealt with by learning how to cope with stress and anxiety rather than denying or catastrophizing its existence. Since there is no way to avoid these feelings, parents need to demonstrate positive coping skills and guide their children to use these skills when feeling stressed or anxious. If parents attempt to “protect “children from ever feeling anxious or stressed, they will rob them of the opportunity to learn how to cope with unavoidable feelings that they will surely encounter at some point in their lives. This approach may increase anxiety and other problems, such as over-medication.
What can parents do for their children to deal with these negative emotions, and how can they help them?
- Parents must explain to their children that they can experience negative emotions in normal life. This is an important first step for parents. Understanding that children and parents will experience negative emotions like stress, fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, and grief is a crucial first step. The parent can tell the child that sometimes they feel the same way so they don’t feel isolated. Sometimes, a parent might say that their negative emotions have helped them to learn things I could have done differently. This statement can help the child reflect on what they might have done differently. Learning how to experience all emotions, even negative ones, is important.
2 Parents who want to teach their children how to manage emotions should understand coping skills. The next step is to teach children healthy coping skills to help them manage their emotions and reduce stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions. These skills are essential for children to cope with negative emotions when they become too intense. One of the most important coping skills is learning to accept situations beyond their control. Acceptance of these types is not a sign of helplessness. It helps them focus on things they can control and away from those they cannot. They can take control of their lives and decide how they view a situation. A common coping skill is to learn to accept and face your irrational fears instead of running from them. This can often be done step-by-step so that it seems manageable. Please encourage your children to face their fears and show gratitude. One of the most common coping strategies is to learn to see the situation and yourself more healthily and realistically. Negative and catastrophic thinking can make any emotional problem worse. However, thinking about the problem in a realistic and healthy way can help make things better. One of the most common coping strategies is learning to calm down and relax your body, even when you don’t need to take immediate action. These coping skills can be very helpful over time.
- What can parents do to help their children learn and use these skills? The best way to teach these skills is to show them. Parents need to be open with their children about their emotional problems and how they use coping skills. Children will be more open to learning from their parents if they understand that they also experience negative emotions. Parents can sometimes use teachable moments to show their children how to cope. Use age-appropriate language. Parents should avoid lecturing and choose when the child or teenager is open to hearing this information. Remember that even coping skills won’t completely remove negative emotions. Sometimes, the child may have to bear it for a while. This is true even for adults. Parents should not talk about their coping skills endlessly. This would be counterproductive for most children. Parents should also be a positive influence in helping children learn coping skills.
Sometimes children are in severe emotional distress that interferes with their ability to function. These children may need to be treated by a professional in mental health. These children need coping skills even more. Parents looking for more information on coping skills can look up self-help books and share them with their children or teens. These self-help books are just a few that focus on teaching coping skills.