OSF Childrens Hospital

Coping Skills

Developing Children’s Self-Esteem

  • Don’t be a helicopter parent. Allow your child to make decisions on their own and see them through.
  • Allow your child to fail. Many parents don’t want their children to fail at anything. However, experiencing failure is actually a good thing. Failure is a part of life. Children need to understand they will fail sometimes.
  • To teach self-respect, you must show respect at all times. Speak to your child with respect—even when upset or angry. Never give in to the temptation to shout.
  • Listen carefully to your child when he or she is trying to tell you something. Make it clear that you're interested. For example: Turn off the TV or put down the newspaper when your child speaks to you, and don't take phone calls during the conversation. Also, be sure to praise his/her efforts to communicate with you, whenever possible.
  • Focus on the positive. Praise the child's behavior when appropriate, but don't exaggerate.
  • Enjoy your teenager. Tap into his or her humor, energy and creative sense of possibility.

Developing Children’s Coping Skills

Every child handles stress differently. One of the most important aspects of how a child deals with stress is the quality of their coping strategies. The more effectively a child responds to stress, the higher their self-esteem and self-worth will be. 

General Coping Skills

  • Deep breathing – slow, deep breaths
  • Listen to music – relaxing or lively, depending on the situation
  • Write in a journal
  • Visualize imagery or look at a picture of a calm, beautiful place in your mind
  • Positive self-talk
  • Distraction – do an activity that distracts you from the stress, like read a book
  • Stuffed animal – hold a soft toy
  • Use humor - look for the humorous side of a situation
  • Talk with someone

How to Develop Coping Skills?

  • Every child is different. You may need to utilize different or multiple coping skills based on your child’s needs.
  • Focus on strengths. Determine what your child does well and enjoys doing. From there, help your child strengthen these skills.
  • Sleep right, eat well and exercise - children that get enough sleep, eat nutritious foods and get at least one hour of physical activity daily are more likely to have higher self-esteem and better coping skills.