How Teaching Kids Healthy Coping Skills Can Save Them From Addiction – Part 1

How Teaching Kids Healthy Coping Skills Can Save Them From Addiction – Part 1No matter how charmed one’s life appears from a distance, no one is entirely shielded from the need to cope with a life and world that we don’t control. While money, power, good looks, and success go a long way in helping one get what he or she may desire, there is no substitute for the ability to effectively confront and cope with the unexpected curve balls of adult life. Though you strive to give your child every opportunity you can afford and manage, are you teaching your kids to be people who can survive, and even thrive, regardless of their circumstances?

There is an undeniable connection between one’s inability to cope with life and the rise of addiction. How is this relationship explained? Addicts are people who could not confront life. In the absence of coping skills, they substituted a chemical or maladaptive behavior. While the drug of choice did not remove the offending situation or triggering event, it provided a much needed release and escape from reality. In time, tolerance developed, the life problems only worsened or multiplied, and a full-scale dependence upon alcohol–both mental and physical-was established. For some, the difficulty of their circumstances is undeniable, but in most cases, the real problem is an arrested capacity for dealing with the common elements of adult life.

Because of this it is essential that kids begin learning healthy life lessons from a young age. It’s tempting to want to protect children from the evils and challenges of adult life, and to some degree, that is a parent’s job. But there are a fair number of challenges that are common in a child’s life, and which will help craft them into strong adults. Many parents are trying to shield their kids from these realities as well. While it seems loving, it is a grave disservice to the child.

As you think of the opportunities you seek to provide for your kids in order to ensure they become successful, self-sufficient adults, don’t overlook the educational benefits of adversity, challenge, discipline, and not getting one’s way. Though it initially would seem that indulged children would be happy children, this is almost never the case.

An overly hands-on, and even domineering, approach, also known as helicopter parenting, isn’t helpful because through this approach you are essentially guaranteeing your lifetime job security. In the professional world, this is savvy, but do you really want to be taking care of and managing your kids into adulthood? While children don’t need to be thrown to the lion’s den of the adult world, help them to learn what it means to cope with the challenges that naturally come their way.

Tips for teaching kids to cope:

Discipline when necessary. A child who does not learn proper behavior and moral conduct in the home, and who is not checked for bad behavior, will constantly find himself at odds with the outside world-namely figures of authority such as teachers and principles, and later, the law and judicial system. Teach kids manners, respect for authority (namely yours), and the importance of adhering to house rules. Discipline compassionately, but decisively.

Model a positive attitude. While some children are innately positive and optimistic, this is often a learned behavior and response. How do you react when things don’t go well for you? Do you get angry, throw a fit, exclaim that things never go your way, or attempt to shift the blame? Or do try to see blessings in the midst of trial? Do you show that it’s possible to stumble into bad luck and still laugh about it and enjoy life?

Teach reliance upon and trust in God. Help children to understand that while the world may feel out of control, God always has things under control. When events or circumstances that we would label ‘bad’ befall us or the ones we love, we have to trust that God is working things together for good. We also must accept that God will take us through any number of challenges to help establish our trust and dependence upon Him. When kids understand that there is order in the universe, and that God is both good and a source of personal strength, they are less likely to reach for chemical comforts. They will reach for Him.