TIP of the WEEK: Coping Strategies

September 13, 2013

One of the biggest challenges that we face is teaching our kids how to manage stress and anxiety effectively and appropriately. We can often look back after a behavioral incident and find that the root of the issue was a stressor that, in many cases could have been diminished with the right coping  skills. Coping skills are easy to learn but take an extended amount of time and practice to be put into use during times of distress. Many of our kids can fluently tell us what skills they have and can show us how to use them when at baseline but typically forget how to use those same skills when they are needed most. Over time, with continued practice, these skills start to become habit and eventually we do see them being used in times of frustration and stress. Start young and practice often and the results can be remarkable. Here are some of the most effective coping strategies that I have seen:

  • Taking space– the number one coping skill for kids who become easily overwhelmed and react aggressively. Teaching your child to recognize when he or she needs to walk away and defuse is an invaluable skill that will have life long benefits.

  • Creative Visualization– take note of places and experiences that bring your child joy. During times of stress talk to your child in detail about these places and, over time ask her to visualize these experiences on her own. This skill teaches decompression and mood stabilization.

  • Role Playing and Social Stories– these skills teach your child what to expect in different environments and situations. Anticipating potential stressors and having your child play their way through them before they actually happen can decrease their stress when the actual event takes place.

  • Deep Breathing–  in my opinion the most effective skill that we can teach. Deep breathing calms the body, clears the mind and allows us to face anxiety more effectively. It is difficult for children and adults with PWS to breathe deeply so games can be used to teach this skill. Blowing bubbles, blowing up balloons, etc… are good ways of ensuring that your child is taking a good, deep breath.

There are many skills that teach children how to calm themselves down but the key is to pick ones that work and practice them everyday.

We’d love to hear about some of the skills that you have found to be effective.

Submitted by:
Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

Related Posts:
Useful Tips for Managing Stress and Anxiety
Top Ten Strategies for Emotional Meltdown in Public 
Getting Out of my Own Way 

“There are no negatives in life, only challenges to overcome that will make you stronger.” 
 ~Eric Bates

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