Children De-Stress Too

by | Parenting, Psychology

Coping Styles

Everyone has those things they reach for when life is difficult. Some like cigarettes, some good wine, others find that running gives them peace, many find that a coffee eases the burden of mornings, and others like to listen to music, take a bath by candlelight or even sing. We all have things we do to ease the weight of the day.

What makes us choose these things? I often wonder if my love for jam doughnuts relates to days out with dad, or perhaps my desire to sing comes from those times mum sung harmonies in the car with me on long trips. Those are some great memories, full of the love a child feels when their parents raise them with love in their hearts. Even abused children can have positive memories from childhood. Maybe their mum loved to dance with them when she was drunk. Maybe their father only ever visited once a year, when a particular flower was blooming.

No matter how the connections are made, we grow up with particular ways of coping with stress. They can be destructive, or constructive, or just plain nice, with no negative consequences. Of course we would love our children to develop mostly those last two. After all, we hope they don’t cope by eating too much, or drinking too much. Maybe because we know the consequences of those things personally. So how do we teach our children good coping styles? We show them all of the great things in the world, the great things they can see, do and participate in. The things that can fill their hearts without bad consequences… So we do lots of hugging, singing, dancing, laughing, enjoying special hobbies, down time with reading, television or even the iPad (depends on the child. Dale gets great calm from the iPad), games and colouring or drawing. Colouring used to help me too. Maybe that’s why colouring books are back in vogue. Taz gets a new $2 gum machine ball, watches videos of trains or plays with trains when he is needing some reassurance that life is going to be ok. The biggest thing to remember about coping styles is that if you don’t want to keep one in particular, you need to replace it with another, specifically another with a similar level of enrichment. The same goes for children giving up dummies, bottles, comfort toys, whatever they age out of (I still have my teddy bear, and can’t see a reason to give him up. Shhhhh! That’s my secret).

What do your children do to cope? Do you have any treasured secret coping styles?

If you would like to discuss the ideas in this post further, tell your story, or share your experiences, please join us on our Facebook page.
Please be respectful of others at all times. We are all on different journeys.

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