Making Coping Skills Work In Your Family

We’ve all heard about using coping skills to help manage tense situations in our families. But, how do you make these coping skills stick? How do you create coping skills that you and your family will actually use? In today’s video I talk about how to make coping skills work in your family (hint: it’s more about practice than perfection!)

No time to watch the video? Read the transcripts below! 

In today’s video we’re going to be talking about coping skills and how to make them actually work in your family – that way you and your family are using them without thinking, unapologetically, all the time.

Last week we talked about meltdowns and why they’re so annoying, and I got a great response from people telling me that for once someone understood that it’s not just about being present; it’s not just about trying to help your kids through it, but that watching someone go through meltdowns is really annoying.

This week what I’m going to do is help you understand how to build a set of coping skills in your family that each member of your family can use all the time, and that just makes sense for how you and your family work.

What Are Coping Skills

Before we jump into how to use coping skill and how to make them work, I want to talk a little bit about what coping skills actually are.

Coping skills are a set of task or strategies that you use to help decrease tension in the situation.

So you’ve heard of examples of coping skills like meditating, taking a deep breath, counting to 10, walking away. All these techniques are to help you decrease the situation and get back to your normal state of being. Coping skills help you get back to how you normally are before you are triggered or before that situation took effect. The whole goal of having coping skills in your family is not to be permissive or to let things go; it’s not so that someone else can win and you can lose. We use coping skills to get you back to your normal state of being so you can problem solve and work through situations with your family.

Coping skills also provides a safe space for us to explore our feelings so that way we can get our needs met.

In the midst of a trigger or the midst of a meltdown, we’re not using our coping skills and our needs are not getting met, which is why we’re having such intense big feelings. When we began to incorporate coping skills into our everyday life, we begin to be able to tell people how we’re feeling what’s going on for us but we need from them.

Coping skills are very important but they’re sometimes really difficult to maintain. So let’s jump into what you can do to make coping skills actually stick in your family. I’ve talked about a few already, but below I have also compiled a few that you and your family can try out together (SEE BELOW). For this video, however, I really just want to focus on how you can make them work, because I know that there are tons of ways and tons of techniques to cope with things.

Making Coping Skills Work

Practice Not Perfection

The first thing you should know about making coping skills work in your family is that coping skills and using them is more about practice not perfection. In order to make coping skills work in your family, you’ve got to commit to practicing them. Don’t just do it once or twice and say, “Ugh this doesn’t work; ugh this is stupid”. But really get into a flow of doing it. They also work really well when you practice them daily. It might feel dumb or awkward to always deep breathe, or it might feel silly to always count to ten. But really get into the habit of practicing them. Practice in this case, doesn’t make perfect but it makes it more common – it makes it more normal and it doesn’t feel like such a burden. When we first start doing coping skills if feel like, “Ugh, what am I doing here?” But as you get used to them and as you do them more often, then you can feel like “Oh, this is second nature, the same way I talk, the same way I breathe, the same way I walk, I use coping skills”. It becomes second nature for you.

Practice coping skills to make them feel as normal and second nature as walking or breathing.

Identify Your Unique Coping Skill

The second way that you can really bring coping skills into to your family and make them work is to really understand and identify what works for you. If you’re someone is really excited and you need a lot of stimulation, think about coping skills that help you to meditate and calm down; think about coping skills that ask you to take it slow and chill just for a minute so you can get back to that equilibrium or that than normal kind of way of relating and being. If you’re someone that is very chill most of the time, think about coping skills that you can do that enhance that chillness – that enhance how you feel. If you are someone that normally kind of just bows out and goes away, think about coping skills that can get you in tune with your feelings but still keep you calm. One of the techniques I like is having a “chill spot” in the house. It’s a spot that once you get triggered, you can go to and just kind of sit and think. You don’t have to do anything else, you don’t have to write standards, you don’t have to face the wall. You just sit and you think “Why did I get so upset?” or ” Why did that person upset me so much?” When you have that moment, instead of just chilling like you normally do, you can really use that moment to reflect and understand what’s going on for you. I really think this is a great coping skill and a great way to enhance your coping skills for both parents and for kids. Reflection is always going to be a great coping skill for everybody in the house.

Identify a coping skill (or set of coping skills) that is unique to your personality and way of reflecting on things.

Assess How Effective Your Coping Skills Are

The third way that you can really bring coping skills into your family and make it work is to really think about how is it working for me. What that looks like is talking about it, evaluating it for yourself, or just asking someone if your family if you been using my coping skills. The best way to do that is for you and your family to sit down and everybody pick a coping skills they want to try out for the week, whatever that looks like. And if the person says I want to try this and you don’t think it’s going be good for them, let them try it, let them try it for a week and then afterwards you guys can talk about whether it worked or what you thought was good for them and their personality and how they process things.

Again when we’re thinking about making coping skills work, what we’re looking for is something that fits into our everyday being without being a burden or without it taking us out of ourselves. When we have to deal with something that takes us out of ourselves we tend to reject it or ignore it or dismiss it. But when we bring a skill into our lives that makes sense for us we’ll actually use it more frequently and then it becomes second nature – we begin to do it without even thinking. This third strategy is to really talk about the coping skill that you are going to use and then give everybody in the family a week to try it out, see how it works, ask questions, let them know if you saw them do it, let them know if you saw them do it effortlessly, or if you saw them having trouble with it, that way everybody in the family can begin to see what set of coping skills works for them. Everybody might have similar ones and everybody might have a few different ones in their tool box that they can use that makes them feel happy and makes them feel like ok, I can do this.

Be sure to assess whether the coping skill you’re using is effective by enlisting the help and support of your family.

The Recap

So let’s do a quick recap on the three ways that you can bring coping skills into your family and really make them work for you.

  1. Practice coping skills daily – don’t give up as soon as you feel like they are not working; really practice so that way they can become a part of your life and second nature for you.
  2. Pick coping skills that work for you – find ones that work with your personality and who you are. Try not to pick coping skills that feel outside of who you are, outside of your coping skills, because then you won’t use them to them. To pick useful coping skills, think who am I how do I process issues and then develop a coping skill or add a coping skill to your toolbox that works for you.
  3. Begin to talk about and assess the effectiveness of the coping skills that you’re using – doing this reinforces the validity and the effectiveness of the coping skill that you use and that it increases the chance that you keep using it.

Coping Skills You Can Use

In the video, I focused on how to make coping skills work! Below I’ve put together a few coping skills that you and your family can try out and practice together! I encourage you to print them out and put them in a place where everyone in the family has access to them!

Download the Coping Skills PDF here!

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