Teaching Coping Skills To My Toddler
I’ve heard several fellow critics of medicating kids for ADHD say that those children never really learn to cope with their problems; therefore explaining why 23% of the 6 million plus children currently on these untested-yet-FDA-approved psychiatric drugs go on to test positive as bipolar.
Actually, I never really thought of it before, but yes, at some point a child needs to learn coping skills. But how and when?
Leave it to me, Mr. Overkill, but for the past couple of weeks now, I’ve been deliberately teaching “coping skills” to my 17 month-old toddler.
My son Jack is in a stage now where he is testing me on whether I will help him when he doesn’t actually need my help.
For example, he will roll his Hot Wheels car underneath the couch where he can still reach it, but he will whine and look at me, as if I should save the day. He hears the same thing from me each time:
“Son, use your coping skills. You can reach it.”
Similarly, I recently helped Jack harness his bravest coping skills to learn how to pull himself up on our coffee table. It’s now a new hang-out spot; along with the fridge.
Other times, he whines about something neither he nor I can control. Like when I’m driving him home and he drops his book on the floor.
“Son, use your coping skills. There is nothing we can do about your toy until we get home.”
The simplicity of what I am hoping to teach him is this: I will help you unless A) you can figure out a way to deal with it yourself or B) it’s something no one can control.
I guess ultimately, my “coping skills” concept is a blatant rip-off of the famous Serenity Prayer:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”
If you are familiar with The Dadabase, then you know I am a huge advocate of letting your infant “cry it out” in order to sleep through the night. While Jack has been sleeping through the night for the past 10 months of his 17 month long life, he still tests me during his weekend naps.
You guessed it: I say it all comes down to coping skills.
“Son, use your coping skills. I’ve wrapped you up in this blanket and held you for a minute. You’re very tired and you know you need sleep. I’m setting you down in your bed now and you’re going to learn to fall asleep on your own.”
He “copes” for about 5 minutes then he’s asleep.
My son will experience a life full of “no’s.” Whether it’s me, his friends, his teachers, future employers, and even God Himself.
I know this because at age 31, I’m still struggling with my own coping skills.