Teaching Children to Cope with Difficult Times

Teaching your children how to cope with life’s challenges may be one of the most important ways you can help each child. Especially in an age where there is no shortage of harmful and destructive ways to cope with traumatic experiences. How your child reacts when life is less than perfect now will greatly influence their ability to face larger disappointments as an adult. 

teaching children to cope

Here are 5 key ways that you can help your child develop healthy coping habits: 


  1. Teach Your Child to Deal with Disappointment 

Disappointment is a part of life. Accidents happen. Some men go bald. Businesses go out of business. Casseroles don’t turn out. The flu makes healthy people sick. While some disappointment can be avoided, many of life’s disappointments can’t be controlled. Take the weather for example. No matter how much preparation you put into your garden party, you can’t stop a rainstorm from raining on your yard.

When your child comes face to face with disappointment, instead of jumping in and fixing the problem, help your child deal with the outcome. In many cases, asking your child for their own ideas on how to handle the situation will help them to further develop problem-solving skills. Convey to your child that what happened cannot be changed, but empower your child to turn the disappointment into an opportunity to learn and grow. This is especially true when it comes to controlling somebody else’s actions. It’s important for children to learn that they can’t control what somebody does and that people are going to do things that are frustrating, or even potentially harmful to oneself and those around them. For example, a family member dealing with substance abuse.

Take inventory of your own reactions when you encounter disappointment. If something doesn’t go your way, do you immediately curse out loud? Do your reactions resemble an adult version of throwing a fit? If this is the case, you may want to consider what message this could be sent to your child. Although it will take practice, try reacting to disappointment with adult earned wisdom and grace. Share with your child what you can learn from the disappointment and how you will move forward. 


  1. Don’t Remove Consequences

Children need to know what the consequences will always accompany their choices. If your child carelessly breaks a toy, don’t rush out and replace the toy. The last thing you want is to set the precedence that your child can break anything they want because you will always be close by to fix it. 

Establish clear house rules and enforce the rules and their consequences. For example, one rule may be that your child’s toys must be put away before going outside to play. Enforcing such rules is one key way to teach your children that they don’t get to make the rules and they certainly don’t get to choose the consequences when they break the rules. 


  1. Establish Patterns of Moderation

Practicing moderation is often difficult; however, as adults, we know that you can have too much of a good thing. Help your children establish habits of moderation involving sweets, soda, video games, computer or tablet usage, time on the couch, etc. 

Children naturally want their desires to be fulfilled immediately. Don’t enable your children to indulge in constant self-gratification. Instead, teach your children the value of waiting, and even working, for the things they want. Learning to wait helps children to develop self-control. Self-control will become especially important as they become teenagers and eventually adults. 


teaching children to cope


  1. Be Someone Your Child Can Trust

Children are better able to wait for something when they trust the adult involved. Children are also more likely to talk openly with a parent when they trust that the parent will really listen. Establishing and maintaining trust with your child is a lifelong process. Be true to your word with everyone, not just your children. Follow through on your promises. Listen intently when people talk to you.

Also, don’t be afraid to let your child see you make mistakes. When you do make a mistake and your child is in the audience, be quick to take ownership of the mistake. No need to demean yourself or call your actions stupid. Just admit that you made the mistake without making excuses and fix the problem whenever possible.


  1. Encourage Your Child to Experience New Things

Children will always gravitate toward activities that they enjoy and that come easily to them. Let’s face it, most adults are the same way. However, only pursuing what is comfortable, familiar, and easy will prevent your child from discovering new life treasures. Encourage your child to try new things, especially when your child expresses fear toward the activity. 

Be slow to pass judgment on how your child will feel about an activity. For example, you may prevent a natural swimmer from discovering her raw talent because you think she isn’t built for the water. 

Reinforce along the way that hard work is required for success. Praise your child for their effort and be specific in your praise. For example, try a compliment like this: “I can tell you put a lot of effort into learning that piano piece.” 

Conquering fears and mastering new skills will always help your child to develop real and lasting confidence. 


teaching children to cope

Learning how to cope, and eventually thrive in the face of major challenges and disappointments, enables children to develop key skills and attributes that will make them less likely to pursue illegal activities and addictive behaviors. Simply stated, children who learn how to cope are more likely to become adults who succeed.

One thought on “Teaching Children to Cope with Difficult Times

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: