June 25, 2010

Children Need Coping Skills

A thousand years ago during the days when no one called me dad and I was just your run of the mill single guy I had lots of opinions about children. In particular I had strong feelings about how they should behave in public and thought poorly of parents who couldn't control them.

It seemed to me like there were far too many examples of parents who didn't care what their children did. Restaurants, airplanes and movies seemed to be filled with children running wild and parents who were oblivious to the chaos their offspring were creating. I didn't understand why this was so. It wasn't how I was raised and had my siblings or I tried any of that our parents would have stopped it immediately.

Now years later I understand that sometimes there are situations that arise in which parents find themselves struggling to keep their children from running amok. Sometimes it is because the child has a behavioral issue that makes it more challenging to be well behaved in public. Other times it is because the kid/parent has reached their breaking point and they are melting down.

I get it. I understand. I have been there. Been at that place where I am so exhausted I feel like I can't deal and the kids get a moment to run wild. I have been there when they have lost it and aren't able to get themselves in check.

So I have some understanding and sympathy for parents. My rule of thumb is if you are trying to help your child you get a break from me. But what I cannot tolerate is when parents don't do anything. I can't stomach the idea of children running a household because mom/dad aren't willing to do the work.

Discipline comes with the job, it is part and parcel. And discipline doesn't have to mean corporal punishment. You don't have to beat a child to help them learn what is wrong/right. Corporal punishment merits its own post- I don't want to get caught up in that now.

Rather let's talk about coping skills for a moment because it is a key element of parenting. If you don't teach your child how to lose you are failing them. If you don't teach your child how to deal with not getting everything they want you are failing them. If you don't teach your child how to deal with hard times you are failing them.

Those are hard lessons that aren't easy for adults. They aren't easy for anyone, but they are critical skills to learn. We can't protect our kids from everything. We won't always be there to save them from "life." So it is up to us to give them the tools to deal with whatever comes along.

Coping skills make for happier children.

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