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Connecting with Your Preschooler: Building Coping Skills


mother and pre-school age daughter hugging



Good coping skills and a positive outlook can help your preschooler work through difficult situations.

Developing your child’s coping skills

Good coping skills help us to deal with the problems, frustrations, and challenges that life throws at us. The way a child deals with these things as a baby and toddler – crying and tantrums – are less appropriate in later childhood or in life.

Did you know? Preschoolers tend to cope or deal with threatening situations through symbolic play – they create a make-believe situation where they can defeat whatever is frightening them. They feel better by acting out control over a frightening situation. Talking with your child about their fears can also help and comfort them.

Tips for promoting good coping skills in your child

  • Teach your child to identify and understand his own feelings and capabilities
  • Teach your child to recognise feelings of distress and discomfort when they first occur
  • Encourage younger children to express feelings through drawings, puppets, play dough and other creative or messy play
  • Use children’s stories to help talk about problems
  • Encourage cooperative games with other children, as opposed to competitive games
  • Teach children that while everyone likes to win, doing your best is more important
  • Teach that teasing and name-calling can hurt people

Developing your child’s optimism

Optimism is the ability to look on the bright side of life, even when things are going wrong. Having an optimistic view of life helps you to think positively rather than negatively and understand the causes of things that happen to you. There is increasing evidence that an optimistic view on life can make it easier to deal with life when things go badly.

Encourage your child to have an optimistic outlook on life by helping your child to:

  • recognise the difference between positive and negative thoughts
  • think about whether things are morally right or wrong
  • understand why things sometimes go wrong
  • look at possible positive outcomes rather than the worst-case scenario
  • set goals and plan a course of action for achieving them
  • look at strategies and see whether they worked and why
  • make decisions and choices.

For more information on connecting with your preschooler, see:

© Raising Children Network Limited, reproduced with permission.

Resources & Links:

HealthLink BC: Preschoolers – Building Social Skills  
HealthLink BC: Helping Your Child Build Inner Strength 


Last Updated: November 30, 2014