George Lucas Educational Foundation

Helping Kids Learn Coping Skills

Helping Kids Learn Coping Skills

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This is an excerpt from my blog post, “What are Coping Skills? An Overview.” To read all five articles on this topic, click on the links at the bottom of this post. Forman (1993) defines coping skills as sets of information and learned behaviors that the child can use purposefully to bring about a positive outcome in a potentially stressful situation. The learned behaviors may be physiological, social, cognitive, and/or affective. Coping skills interventions aim at teaching children a set of strategies that will increase their ability to function effectively during potentially stressful or problematic situations. Folkman and Lazarus (in Forman, 1993) identify two major types of coping efforts, problem-focused coping and emotion-focused coping. Problem-focused coping acts on the stressor, for example, problem solving or any attempt to manipulate and change the relationship between the child and the stressful event (attempting to solve the problem). In an emotion-focused effort, we try to regulate the emotional states (feelings) associated with the problem or stressor, that is, we do not manipulate the problem, but manipulate how the child feels and responds to the problem. By helping the child think and feel differently about the problem, we influence the child’s emotional response to the problem. Cognitive restructuring is probably the best-known emotion-focused-effort. Among the most popular coping skills approaches for use with school age children are: • Stress inoculation training • Social skills training • Social problem solving training • Self-management of behavior • Cognitive restructuring Coping skills improve children’s ability to deal with those events they perceive as stressful by performing specific actions to increase the chance of a positive outcome, and by reinforcing the belief that they are capable of responding constructively to the demands of the event. Reference: Forman, S.G. (1993). Coping skills interventions for children and adolescents. San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass. To learn more on this topic: What are Coping Skills? Part One: Overview What are Coping Skills? Part Two: Social Skills Training and Assertiveness What are Coping Skills? Part Three: Social Problem Solving What are Coping Skills? Part Four: Teaching Children How to Self-Manage Behavior What are Coping Skills? Part Five: Understanding the Cognitive-Emotive Model

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