Saturday, February 13, 2016
Self-regulation and stress
Emotion focused coping is a strategy that involves the management of negative emotions such as fear. For example, when a child starts the first day of school for the school year, a child may feel fear about the first day of school. This fear may come regardless of what grade the child is in. A child can feel fear that their teacher will be mean, that they won't have any friends, that the assignments will be too hard or any other number of things. These fears are real to children and should be worked through, not brushed off. A parent can help the child manage their fears by using emotion focused coping. This is done when a parent listens to the reasons why the child feels the fear they're experiencing and gives help by giving them suggestions of how to work through the fear. This can be done by the parenting saying something such as, "I heard your teacher has a jar of toys the students can choose from when they pass three spelling tests in a row. Do you think that makes the teacher nice or mean?" or "I heard your friend Julie was in the same class as you so you'll have at least one friend in the class you know." A parent has then helped the child cope with the fear they were experiencing and has given reasons why the fear can be lessened. A parent has also acknowledged the emotion the child is feeling and helped the child through those feelings.
Problem solving coping is a strategy that involves goal efforts and includes behavior and attention regulation strategies that resolve stressful situations. For example, when a child is feeling stressed because of the amount of homework they have they may be feeling overwhelmed and need help coming up with a solution to get all of their homework done. A parent can help the child think through the situation by talking it through with the child. A parent can ask questions like, "What assignments need to get done?" "What is due first?" Then offer a suggestion, a solution, to the problem. "Start with your math homework first because that's due first, then do research for your paper, then study for your biology test." The solution of the order to do the homework assignments is a strategy that involves a goal, the effort to achieve the goal and has resolved a stressful situation. Now the next time a child is in this same situation they can do the same thing on their own.
Emotion and problem solving strategies take a lot of time and effort by child and parent to teach. There will be times even after your children are off to college that they need to call their parents and talk through the fear and problems they're having. It's not so much that they want the parent to solve the problem or take the fear away. The child just wants help talking and thinking it through to find a solution. They need someone to bounce ideas off in order to see if their parents may have an idea they haven't thought of.