TEN ESSENTIALS FOR HELPING CHILDREN COPE
(10 “E” S for COPING)
1 Eat right
Make sure children eat a balanced and healthy diet (limit sugar and processed food). Children should be well hydrated with water (avoid caffeinated drinks, limit juice & soda).
2 Enough sleep and rest
Ensure that children get enough sleep and relaxation. Most children need to sleep between 8-10 hours a night. Children who have busy schedules or have been experiencing stress or multiple changes in their lives may require more sleep or time to rest.
Physical activities help children work off stress and let go of negative feelings. Sports, active games and play can allow children to “blow steam off” and lift their spirits.
4 Express feelings and fears
Expressing feelings and fears is the first step to making them manageable. Invite children to express their feelings and concerns by providing opportunities to talk, draw, play and “act-out” their experiences. Some children may need help sharing or understanding their feelings or concerns. It helps to “label”(identify) and normalize children’s feelings and experiences.
Facilitate and divert children to pleasurable experiences. Find out what activities your child likes and create opportunities for fun and laughter. Imaginative and creative play is a natural way children process and relieve stress.
Establish clear and consistent expectations, limits and routines. Children need predictability to feel secure. Make sure children know and understand expectations by teaching and practicing and enforcing expectations. Provide and post visual and written schedules, standards, and rules. Frequently model and verbalize expectations.
7 Empowering experiences
Facilitate opportunities where children can experience success, competence, or positive aspects of themselves. Allow children to lead or help out in an activity, help them master a skill, or try something new or challenging. Chores and “jobs” give children a sense of value and purpose.
Convey a sense of hope and belief in children. Talk positively about the future and your children’s abilities. Focus on reminding children of their strengths and progress. Reassure children through hugs, praise effort and progress, and share real life inspirational stories.
9 Establish an equilibrium
Help establish or restore balance to children’s lives. Allow enough time for children to work and play, spend time alone and with others, do structured and imaginative activities, and to have quiet and active times. Assist children in managing daily demands by helping them organize their time, tasks and things (prioritize and break tasks down). Identify challenges and facilitate problem solving. Adjust children’s distorted perspectives by offering a positive or more realistic view. Support overwhelmed children by highlighting their abilities and accepting their limitations.
10 Enlist experts
Consult with experts if children are experiencing extreme and chronic emotional difficulties.
One of the greatest ways to maintain and improve emotional well being is through positive interpersonal relationships. Children who have strong connections with their family and friends are better able to cope with stress and challenges. Help children make good friends and to positively participate in activities. Provide extra support by being truly present and setting up “special time” with your child.
Copyright Katey Woods, LMFT @ 2019