Taking steps to raise strong, resilient kids is one of the first steps parents can take to give them the coping skills to weather challenges and resist peer pressure to participate in underage drinking.
The outbreak of the pandemic triggered a mental health crisis in our nation’s youth. Kids were forced to abandon their normal routines and stay at home. Children had to attend school remotely, watch as their after-school activities were put on hold, and learn new ways of spending time with friends from afar. It has been a difficult time for all youth. A recent survey of 977 parents published on WebMD reveals at least 46 percent of young adults showed signs of new or worsening mental health conditions following the onset of the pandemic.
The pandemic also taught us about resiliency and how it’s an important coping skill that is essential for children to master. Not only does resilience help children cope with emergency situations like the pandemic, but it helps them navigate friendships and social situations as they grow. Resiliency is the ability to bounce back from tough experiences. Our children will need to overcome difficulties as they navigate life and giving them the coping skills they need to endure can help make them stronger.
Resilience Can Prevent Underage Drinking
Resilience will help improve your child’s self-esteem and hopefully make them happier and healthier. But it’s also key for underage drinking prevention. Underage drinking inhibits resilience. It prevents the brain from learning how to cope with adversity. Alcohol use by teens is one of the strongest predictors of teen injury, fighting, academic problems, truancy, unprotected sexual activity, unwanted sexual advances, illegal activity, and other illicit drug use. Underage drinking inhibits the development of resilience and puts teens at a higher risk for developing mental illnesses, such as depression, suicide, and psychosis as adults, research reveals.
Coping Skills to Foster Resilience
If you don’t know where to begin, you are not alone. Talk It Out NC compiled a list of five essential coping skills to foster resilience and help your kids thrive.
- Teach Kids to Identify Feelings. Understanding their emotions will help children learn strategies to move forward. Having the ability to regulate your emotions starts with identifying your feelings. If a child can tell they are feeling scared, they can turn to an adult to help them feel secure and safe. Being able to identify emotions is something children learn as the brain matures and develops. Parents can help this process by pointing out the meaning of facial expressions of close friends and family.
- Teach Kids to Turn a Frown Upside Down. Tweens and teens are prone to mood swings. They will have down days and endure situations that make them sad. One of the best skills you can teach your kids is simple strategies to boost their mood. Give them suggestions for ways to cheer up when they are feeling down. When kids are sad, encourage them to take a walk, visit a friend, spend time relaxing, or look through old photographs.
- Allow Kids to Socialize. Kids who have healthy friendships can rely on their friends to serve as a buffer when they are enduring a rough time. Parents need to make sure they are giving their kids space to make friends on their own and learn the joy of healthy relationships.
- Give Kids Space to Solve Their Own Problems. Even when it’s hard to step aside, don’t try and fix everything for your kids. Allow them to experience disappointment and give them time to solve their own problems. Your children need to know they can come to you when they have a problem, but they should try first to fix the situation on their own. They need to know they can then come to you when the issue seems insurmountable. So, when your child asks for help, be supportive and listen.
- Teach Positivity and Self Respect. Positivity, rationality, and optimism are all key components of resilience. Parents can help children keep things in perspective. Teach them that not making the team isn’t the end of the world, getting in a fight with a friend doesn’t make them a social pariah, and that difficult times are simply a part of life. Children who look on the bright side are naturally more resilient. One of the best ways parents can teach positivity is by modeling the behavior for their kids. Parents can also encourage their children to take up hobbies where they will flourish to build self-confidence.
Start the Conversation Today
Teens aren’t prepared to deal with alcohol on their own, and parents need to start the conversation to prevent underage drinking. Talking to your kids about underage drinking doesn’t need to be a big production, but it needs to happen. To learn more about how to start the conversation with your children, visit: www.talkitoutnc.org/starting-the-conversation/.