Healthy Coping Skills: Top 5 Conversations to Have With Your Kids in 2011


As adults, we know first hand that the world can be a very stressful place at times. Unfortunately, our children also face many challenging situations on a daily basis, whether it’s peer pressure, the college application process or the search for a prom date. Many people turn to drugs and alcohol because they don’t know how to cope with stress. As parents, we have an opportunity to teach our children healthy coping skills from a young age, so they won’t use dangerous substances to deal with tough feelings. Teaching them these skills at a young age will also equip your child for adulthood, where they will experience fear, stress, disappointment, frustration and other emotions on a regular basis.

Tips for Helping Children Develop Healthy Coping Skills

In our first four posts, we addressed the topics of drugs and alcohol, body image, bullying, and the media, The final column in our series on the top conversations to have with your kids in 2011 provides parents with tips for helping their children develop healthy coping skills, including the following:

  • Address the issue: It is important to address your child’s real cause of unhappiness, instead of trying to ignore it. Explain that it’s not realistic to be happy all the time, and be there for your child as they bear through what may seem unbearable for them. Provide strategies for how one can acknowledge their real fears and failures, and how to push through them in a healthy way. For example, you may encourage your child to write in their journal or call a close friend when something upsets them.
  • Face the consequences: Allow your child to face natural consequences of his/her behavior. While no one wants to see their child suffer, if you are always rescuing them from challenging situations, they will not be able to practice coping skills they will need to adapt as healthy adults.
  • Build a support system: Encourage your child to build a support system beyond you and your spouse to help them during difficult times. That includes guidance counselors, teachers at school, coaches, relatives or other mentors.
  • Be a role model: Show your child how you cope with pain or stress productively. If you have a hard day in the office, perhaps you take a yoga class or call your sister. Always remember that you are the number one model for your child’s behavior.

For more parenting tips and tools, please visit

Tammy Granger is Caron’s Regional Director of Student Assistance Programs for Caron Treatment Centers. As such, she manages Student Assistance Services in the Northeast region in private and public schools as well as colleges and universities.

Caron’s Student Assistance Program currently reaches more than 60,000 students, teachers and parents annually.

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