In this episode of Village Chatter, I got to dive into coping strategies and the distinction between coping mechanisms and coping strategies. A coping mechanism might be something like scrolling social media when we’re having an emotion. It’s something we’re doing to try to help ourselves (or to try to avoid an emotion) but it’s not necessarily what we want to be doing to cultivate healthy emotional processing.
In the five phases of emotion processing that Lauren Stauble and I created with the Collaborative Emotion Processing (CEP) Method, coping is an often missed phase. We often skip right over to problem-solving, but in order for our kiddos to build a toolbox of coping strategies, it’s really important that we pause, allow them to be in the feeling, and then offer coping strategies, rather than immediately offering a solution. I chat about what this looks like in practice, some tools we can use with our kiddos to make the process more tangible, and how we can implement these strategies in a way that will make them accessible to our tiny humans for the long-term.
I also received a lot of questions regarding pacifiers, blankets, and other comfort items. These are coping mechanisms that can be really helpful, particularly in infancy but they are different than coping strategies, which will serve tiny humans for the rest of their lives. I dive into when coping mechanisms like pacifiers are developmentally appropriate, as well as when and how to begin shifting to coping strategies. It ’s important to me that we remove shame and judgment around coping mechanisms, and instead provide resources for building coping strategies. In the absence of strategies, we all develop mechanisms to help us survive. The challenge specifically with pacifiers is that they can stifle the language a child would develop in building emotion processing skills. Also, we don’t want to pacify the emotion, but rather build tools for processing it.
We don’t have to just survive our emotions. We can process them and help our kids to do the same. Coping strategies are the key to leaving the amygdala, physically calming down, so we can enter the prefrontal cortex and dive into conflict resolution or problem-solving.
If you are ready to dive into emotion coaching, snag my free guide here.