Coping skills, resilience and teenagers

Learning and developing positive coping skills in their teenage years will build resilience and wellbeing in your child and help set them up with an important skill for life.

‘Coping’ describes any behaviour that is designed to manage the stresses and overwhelming feelings that come with tough situations. By learning and developing positive coping skills in their teenage years, your child will build resilience and wellbeing and be set up with an important skill for life. It’s also important to understand the difference between positive and negative coping skills, and how these strategies can have very different long-term results.

Positive coping skills will help if:

  • your child doesn’t cope well with stress
  • your child often feels overwhelmed
  • your child’s health and wellbeing are negatively impacted by stressful events and difficult emotions.

Why is it important to build coping skills?

Being young isn’t easy. The teenage years are accompanied by a number of stressors and significant life stages. Throw into the mix the hormonal changes that accompany puberty and an increasing need to fit in with their peers, and it’s no wonder that young people often find their adolescent years stressful and overwhelming. To tackle the difficulties that come with being a young person, it’s crucial to encourage young people to develop positive coping strategies.

What is positive coping?

Positive coping strategies increase long-term resilience and wellbeing. In contrast, negative coping strategies usually only produce a helpful distraction in the short term. For example, using drugs and alcohol may provide temporary relief from difficult emotions, but reliance on this strategy can lead to substance dependency and abuse. This is why a focus on positive coping skills is crucial in maintaining long-term wellbeing or resilience.

What is resilience?

Resiliency is the ability to ‘bounce back’ from a difficult situation. A resilient person is able to:

  • withstand adversity
  • learn from their experiences
  • cope confidently with life’s challenges.

Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient. These include:

  • having a positive attitude
  • being optimistic
  • having the ability to regulate emotions
  • seeing failure as a form of helpful feedback.

Resilient teenagers are able to control their emotions in the face of challenges such as:

  • physical illness
  • change of schools
  • transitioning from primary school to high school
  • managing study workload and exams
  • change in family make-up (separation and divorce)
  • change of friendship group
  • conflict with peers
  • conflict with family
  • loss and grief.

Resiliency can be taught through practising positive coping skills.

Support for Parents and Carers

Kids Helpline also has a parent line with trained teams who provide support, information and counselling for parents of children aged 0-18 years. You can call them for the cost of a local call between 9am to 9 pm Monday to Friday and 4pm to 9pm on weekends on 1300 1300 52.

You can speak to the parent line counsellors using an interpreter. The Translating and Interpreting Service can be contacted on 13 14 50 to arrange this.

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