Your kids need these 7 Essential Coping Skills

One of the hardest things I’ve found when trying to be a good parent is NOT helping my kids. Letting kids try and fail and try again is part of their learning process, otherwise, they may not develop the skills they need to survive in the real world.

High school kids

More coping skill means greater resilience, says Madeline Levine, author of the book Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success. She quotes Ken Ginsburg, one of the country’s leading experts on resilience (I didn’t know you could be an expert on that), who says that “resilience is not a character trait,” (Levine 187). Resilience fluctuates, depending on temperament, support and circumstances. Levine identifies the 7 essential coping stills kids need.

  1. Resourcefulness: resourcefulness is proactive, not reactive – its the ability to independently solve daily problems and ask for help when that’s not possible (Levine 190)
  2. Enthusiasm: continued enthusiasm is what keeps kids motivated to stick with something (Levine 196)
  3. Creativity: kids can’t spend their days as passive receptacles of outside stimulation, the need to experiment, to create, to see the outcome of different approaches (Levine 205)
  4. A Good Work Ethic: teach our kids to start early, stay focused on process and don’t overvalue the results (Levine 211)
  5. Self Control: remember that the part of the brain that is responsible for self-control is not fully developed until the mid-20s; self control is about developing, fortifying and internalizing one’s own rules (Levine 220)
  6. Self Esteem: self esteem is earned, not bestowed; confidence is built from many small successes; teach your child to work just outside their comfort zone (Levine 228)
  7. Self Efficacy: this is the belief that we are in significant control of how our life turns out (i.e study hard = grades go up, practice diligently = make more free throws); help your child appraise their capabilities and don’t protect them from failure.

“Children develop secure attachments when parents show warmth, support, stability, and emotional attunement. Under these circumstances kids could feel confident about venturing out into the world and confident that a secure base awaits them in times of stress. Securely attached kids feel good about themselves and worried the of being loved,” Madeline Levine (Levine 282).

Levine wraps up her excellent book with the timeless advice for all parents on how to raise kids – if you want them to be a certain way, to have certain values, then those values and behaviors need to be modeled in the home. She has good exercises for doing some values clarifications between spouses which leads to action items and behavioral changes that will demonstrate the desired values. But this all must be genuine – kids can spot a fake. It kind of reminds me of the Harry Chapin song, Cats in the Cradle, where the dad is always on travel and never has time for his boy, and then the boy grows up and turns out just like his dad. Want a different outcome, you must walk the walk.

Levine, Madeline. Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success. New York: Harper, 2012. Print.


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