How Teaching Kids Healthy Coping Skills Can Save Them From Addiction – Part 2

How Teaching Kids Healthy Coping Skills Can Save Them From Addiction - Part 2Alcoholism is a means of coping with a life that seems unmanageable. When children learn healthy coping skills, they accept the challenge of confronting life rather than drowning it in alcohol.

Here are some tips for teaching kids to cope with life and avoid addiction:

Encourage healthy displays of emotion. If your child cries when sad or afraid, do you tell him to “buck up”? When she’s overly ecstatic, do you encourage her to “calm down”? The more children are instructed to rein in the expression of their emotions, the harder they have to work to stuff them down. This can lead to shame or a sense that their feelings are not right.

Emotions and verbal responses are normal parts of growing up and learning how to interact with the world. Encourage your kids to express their feelings—happy, sad, exhilarated, afraid. Let them know that home is a safe place for honest and open displays of emotion and that there is no need to hide anything.

Give them a voice. Let kids talk about problems, fears, and concerns openly. Life gets busy, but listening to your children is time well spent. Ask their opinions and request their input. You are not putting your kids in the driver’s seat, you are encouraging them to think and reflect and then use their voice to communicate a stance.

Obedience in children is essential, but this doesn’t mean you are running a dictatorship. If you blow up every time your kid disagrees with you or questions you, the child may cease to disagree but it doesn’t mean he will begin to obey.

Don’t model deception. Regardless of what you say, your children learn by observing what you do. Do you lie about why you were late? Do you keep the extra change the clerk gave you by mistake? Do you tell “fibs” to get out of a scrape? Deception is the common element among addicts. They become masters at getting what they want and manipulating those around them. One day you may find yourself on the unfortunate end of their manipulation scheme.

Show kids that honesty and forthrightness are always best, even if it means minor consequences. Teach them the value and peace that comes from having a clean conscience and from living uprightly in the home and in society.

Don’t fight all of their battles. It is tempting to want to refute every detention slip or phone the parents of the child who insulted your baby, but sometimes these are battles and conflicts that kids need to work out for themselves. If the detention was warranted, then a call to the teacher is not necessary.

If your child is distressed about a situation at school, assist not by trying to fix the matter yourself, but by suggesting positive resolutions that he or she can implement. While some circumstances, such as bullying, will require parent involvement, many of the minor ‘battles’ can be worked out by your child.

Teach positive conflict mediation. Help your kids to use “I feel” statements. Though it may feel corny, this manner or communicating in the midst of conflict is surprisingly effective. You are not accusing or trying to manipulate an outcome. You are simply stating how you feel—no one can deny that.

Help kids to understand the meaning of compromise and that it is sometimes not possible for both parties to be entirely happy, but that mutual contentment is indeed possible. Model this type of conflict resolution with your spouse.

Give room to grow. Do you give your children space to develop as individuals or are you more concerned with creating mini models of yourself? There is nothing wrong with parental guidance and suggestion, but in the end, children have to chart their own course. As they grow older, help them to feel comfortable with who they are, what they like, and what they want to do. Begin to pull back as they show the capability to make decisions. When kids have healthy leeway, they see that they don’t need to fight you, and will instead be coming to you for advice.

Show grace. When kids see that their imperfections and missteps are forgiven, they will experience the world as less hostile. This lifts a great deal of the pressure they will experience in early adolescence and adulthood. So many alcoholics came from unrelenting families with unreal expectations and zero tolerance for mistakes. When the child grew into an adult and saw that he or she could not attain this perfection, he or she turned to drink to ease the pain of being a failure.

Help your kids to aim high, but allow for creative failures and the kinds of mistakes that build character. Teach them that not always succeeding is a reality of life and the best way to learn.

When kids are taught basic skills for coping with life, they are more likely to confront life successfully rather than attempt to escape from it with a bottle. Adult life is not easy, but drinking makes it no easier. Practices and lessons learned in the home set children on the right track for addiction-free living as adults.