The first part of this article provided a broad introduction on the necessity for teens and children to learn coping methods. In addition it listed one of the four suggestions for parents to teach their teen how to cope with teen anxiety and/or stress. The following are three additional suggestions for parents.
- Don’t step in too soon. Children and teens are inherently curious and creative. When given the opportunity, they will can arrive at solutions and ways to get around obstacles. However, when parents are quick to solve problems for them, children won’t know how to solve problems themselves. Another way to say this is that when parents are always quick to the rescue, children won’t know how to rescue themselves. Instead, you can have confidence in your child; have faith in the fact that he or she has the resources to sort through the problem or face the challenge. We might help them with looking at the scenario through many different lenses in order to come up with many options. However, let them do the work in actually solving the problem. It’s important to be supportive but parents also need to give their teens the room they need to build strength.
- Don’t get stuck in one version of a problem. It’s easy to hear your child’s point of view and then get stuck there, especially if your teen is presenting the problem as though there is nothing he or she can do. However, as a parent, asking questions about the situation, who is involved, the crux of the problem, and whether there are any other options can facilitate thinking outside of the box. In fact, as a parent, you can teach your teen how to think from another’s perspective, to have empathy for his or her peers, and to give others the benefit of the doubt. These are all important life skills. And when a child can develop the ability to tolerate the feelings and opinions of others, he or she will have more room for problem-solving, creative thinking, and acceptance. In fact, with these skills and abilities, a teen will more often prevent problems rather than finding themselves in them.
- Don’t agree with your child that life is unfair. Yes, life can be unfair, but that doesn’t mean that children or teens get to dismiss the problems that arise from that injustice. And more importantly, the fact that life is unfair doesn’t mean that a teen can resort to having a negative attitude about life. Instead, a parent can encourage a teen to view the injustice as a challenge. You might ask your child how he or she can rise above the problem and take on the challenge.
As with most things, modeling how to cope is the best way to teach it to your children. For instance, as a parent, when you can be with your sadness but also hold onto optimism; when you face your problems head-on; when you approach problems as a challenge to be solved; when you take responsibility if you played a role in what went wrong; children are excellent observers. They are learning from you even when you’re not intentionally teaching them.
And if all else fails, if you feel that you can’t teach teens the level of coping skills they need, to manage teen anxiety or teen depression for example, you can always call upon the professional help of a therapist or psychologist. In fact, one of the primary benefits for teens and children in therapy is learning how to cope. As parents, you can schedule an appointment for your child and facilitate their regular attendance to therapy.