By Dr. Sheila Modir, pediatric psychologist at CHOC
In a world filled with ups and downs, it is important to help our children cope with any difficulties they may face. In this fun and interactive video, narrator Claudia shares the various coping skills she uses after she witnesses two peers fighting. These coping skills can empower other children to navigate the uncertainties of life with resilience and confidence.
Let’s review each coping skill together and learn more about each one:
Practice deep breathing
The first coping skill Claudia uses is deep breathing. She imagines that she is about to blow out her birthday candles on her cake and takes a deep breath in, counts to three, and releases her breath. There are many other ways to teach your child deep breathing skills, including fun ways like having your child lay down on the floor and placing a stuffed animal on their tummy as they take a deep breath in and out, they can watch their stuffed animal move up and down on their belly. For other ways to teach your child deep breathing, please visit this blog.
Use guided imagery to calm your mind
The second coping skill Claudia uses is called guided imagery. Guided imagery encourages you to use your imagination to create a calm scene in your mind. It could be a peaceful walk through a meadow or sitting in your local library surrounded by your favorite books. For Claudia, she imagines the beach on a sunny day and this makes her feel calm. CHOC has a video leading you on a guided imagery exercise on the beach that you can find here.
Art, movement, and physical activity to help feel “big” feelings
Claudia talks about how when she feels “big” feelings, she can turn to drawing, dancing, or engaging in an outdoor activity to help her feel better. Art is an alternative way for children to express their emotions when it is difficult to talk about in words. As a parent/caregiver, you can encourage them to draw, paint, or craft to foster creativity and use it as an avenue to begin a conversation about how they are feeling through their artwork. Movement and physical activity, such as dancing, yoga, going for a walk, or playing sports, are also ways to channel energy positively. They have been known to reduce stress, build resilience, and boost mood. In fact, the California Surgeon General has included physical activity and experiencing nature as two primary ways to manage stress!
Using grounding techniques
Grounding is a type of mindfulness that helps you be aware of the present moment. For Claudia, she uses grounding by naming all the things that are purple in the room. When your child is experiencing a big emotion, you can help distract and ground them by having them name all the things they see in the room that is their favorite color, or by counting backward from 100 or naming an animal using the letters of the alphabet (A is for ant, B is for bee, C is for cat). For more grounding activities, please visit this blog.
Mental Health Education Program (MHEP) webinars
Listening to music for coping
Music can be the universal language when it is difficult to talk or to draw out our feelings. Children of all ages can benefit from listening to or playing music as an emotional expression. Claudia talks about listening to her favorite song when she is feeling upset. It is important to encourage your child to listen to light-hearted, happy music when they are feeling down. If we listen to songs that have typically made us sad in the past, then we may become more upset!
Playing with pets to relieve stress
Research has found that playing with pets can help decrease stress, improve heart health, and help children with their emotional and social skills. Claudia talks about playing with her puppy to help her feel better as it serves as a source of comfort and support for her. However, not every child may feel this way about animals so make sure to check in with your child about what works for them best.
In the video, Claudia talks about many different coping skills to help manage big feelings and build resilience. By providing children with these tools, we are helping them become resilient and learn how to cope with tough times. We teach them how to bounce back from setbacks. We know that every child is unique, so encourage your child to explore these techniques and find out which one works for them!
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The mental health team at CHOC curated the following resources on mental health topics common to kids and teens, such as depression, anxiety, suicide prevention and more.