“When the going gets tough, the tough gets going”, is what we hear all the time.
Parenting is challenging, to say the least, because who knows what tomorrow may bring! However, I am happy to say that in our family, we lean quite heavily on humour, laughter, compassion and a lot of empathy as coping strategies. We have learned to be patient and listen (and often take a few deep breaths, sometimes several) before opening our mouths.
Here are some coping strategies we depend on and have found successful, most of the time. Not saying we always succeeded; after all, we did not receive the instruction manual when we became parents, but I’d say we’ve managed quite decently. We have come out stronger for it.
Look at the funny side
Seeing the funny side of a tense situation brings relief from stress. Humour is a wonderful way to change one’s perception of things and gives you a feeling of having a hold of the situation. Children are experts at this – take the example of them at play. When someone has a fall, the whole group laughs and after a few seconds, they are back at their game as if nothing happened. When faced with a serious issue, this works and reduces that feeling of vulnerability while increasing confidence.
Avoid mixing up issues
When something nasty happens there is a general tendency to let it colour everything with the same hue of negativity. For example, if something unpleasant happens on the way to school, it should not be allowed to affect the entire day. Letting thoughts of that event cloud the mind simply stops the child from enjoying what is in store as the day progresses. This is a life skill worth developing and can be practiced at home.
Stop wallowing in it
Tough times really don’t last. But dwelling on them for longer than they deserve can make them seem bigger than they are. The best way to avoid this is to divert the mind. We tackle this by quickly getting out a board game, usually snakes and ladders, watching a comedy channel or simply locking up and going up to the terrace. The distraction serves to take the mind away from what’s bothering it and puts things in a new light, encouraging seeking a solution rather than turning the problem over and over.
Sharing is caring
Literally. Sharing minimizes the problem. There is no shame asking for help. Sometimes, all it takes is a listening ear to make things better, and the knowledge that someone cares enough. My son was a chatterbox until he was in the seventh grade. But even so, he would never bring school problems home. Thank God for social interaction! When they talk about difficult situations, it is cathartic and avoids emotional baggage.
Learn from the event and move on
Life is full of lessons, especially from difficult situations. It is good to be an optimist at these times, see what you can learn from a negative incident and move on. It just takes a shift in perception and practice, both for parents and children. Reframe the situation with your child to see the bright side. Some people see this as the classic sour grapes. Why not be optimistic and feel there is something better in store?
Avoid thinking the worst
So it is fine to be realistic, but making it a habit of conjecturing the worst possible is quite disgusting. Why create anxiety where none is called for? When the school shuffled sections two years ago, my son was upset. He imagined all sorts of things – that he would have no friends, he might not get along with everyone and so on and so forth. In his point of view, they were valid worries. We gently reminded him he was still in the same school, some of his classmates would still be the same and he could meet his friends during lunch time.
This is not an exhaustive list – I am sure you’ll add to it. I must mention here that the language we use makes a big difference. I try my best not to express myself negatively. I never tell my son he’s going to be late for school. I just tell him to hurry up. Don’t think we don’t feel like yelling – but that’s the challenge we’ve overcome most of the time. If we don’t encourage our children, who will? When we do, they become better at handling their tough times. The reward? They will remember it forever.
I’d love to know what coping strategies you use. Please share in the comments!
Vidya Sury is a happy work-at-home Mom, freelance writer, business blogger, aspiring author and social media explorer. She takes one day at a time and enjoys sharing what she learns. She loves coffee, books, music, cooking, DIY, people and life. Her hobbies are collecting smiles and inspiring happiness. She hopes to find the cure for infobesity. She blogs at Vidya Sury, Coffee With Mi and Your Medical Guide and tweets as @vidyasury