You can do some simple things to teach your child coping skills and help them put these skills into action. It’s never too early or too late to learn how to do this. It’s a good skill for life.
7 positive coping strategies
Talking it out
Encourage your child to speak up if they’re experiencing a tough time, by creating a safe space where their feelings won’t be judged. If what they’re going through doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, keep in mind that it’s very real for them, so be supportive and not dismissive.
It’s also important not to force your child to speak to you if they really don’t want to. Instead, let them know that you’re here to help, but if they’re not comfortable speaking to you (which is okay and shouldn’t be taken personally), encourage them to speak to someone else they trust, such as a friend or another family member.
Taking a break
Taking an active time-out from something that is causing distress is a great way to refocus thoughts and energy. If your child is having difficulty coping, let them know that taking it easy from time to time isn’t being lazy; it’s actually very healthy, especially if they’ve been experiencing a hard time.
Doing something they love
Engaging in enjoyable activities can help lower stress and put them in a positive mindset. Some examples might be:
- taking a walk or using an exercise app
- listening to music
- writing, drawing or painting
- watching a TV show, movie or TED talk
- playing a game online or joining a sports team
- FaceTiming, calling, texting or physically hanging out with friends.
There are heaps of apps out there that can help your teen do activities or learn something new from the comfort of their bedroom. They can check out ReachOut's app recommendations here.
Eating well and exercising
It’s no myth that physical health has a big impact on mental health. Ensure that your child is eating healthy, nutritious meals that will help their body support them through tough times. Exercise can also help by releasing tension and increasing energy levels.
Try getting as many vegetables, fruits and whole grains into your family’s diet. This might be things like choosing a wholemeal or grainy bread at the supermarket and swapping the after school biscuits to a pieces of fruit. Just as simple, easy and cheap but better for your whole family!
Using relaxation techniques
Engaging in positive self-talk
Let your child know that it’s okay to feel good about, and even to compliment themselves on, all their achievements, however big or small. Start by letting them know why you think they’re great, and encourage them to talk about what they like about themselves. This can help to increase their positive mindset and motivation. Encourage them to be mindful of their achievements and skills (or even to write them down) as a regular reminder of their strengths. They can get some more tips here for talking themselves up.
Modelling positive coping behaviours
A really great way to encourage your child to develop positive coping skills is to model the behaviours yourself to show them what positive coping looks like.
Confide in your child about times when you’ve found it hard to cope, and share with them the positive strategies that have worked for you. This will not only make them feel less alone, but will also reinforce the importance of seeking help.
Teaching coping skills to your teenager could be one of the most important skills they learn. They will help your teenager manage any obstacle that may get in the way of their endeavours.