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How Laughology’s PSHE lessons help children to develop coping skills

As adults we’ve heard the phrase, ‘You’ve just got to try and cope with it’, many times in our lives. We’ve learned, often through bitter experience, how exactly we can cope with life’s challenges. Sometimes, sadly, we simply feel as though we can’t.

But what if we could teach children the necessary skills to ‘cope’ when times get tough? What if they could understand that coping is more than just trying to ‘grin and bear it’? That acting with a ‘stiff upper lip’ is a thing of the past? We need children to know exactly what to do when life throws a curve ball.

So in this blog post we’ll look at why it’s important to develop coping skills in young people and how you can embed them in your school.

Why should children develop coping skills?

Coping with life’s challenges starts from a very young age. A toddler learning to walk has to cope with falling down a few hundred times before making it successfully across a room. A four-year old has to cope with starting school for the first time, leaving their parents at the door. A pupil in year six has to cope with the transition to secondary school, with all the uncertainty of navigating their way around a new building and avoiding the school bully who, they are convinced, will flush their head down the loo.

You see life presents us with challenges on a daily basis. Even a newborn faces the challenge of communicating the need for it’s next feed. It’s how we cope with these challenges, however, that matters. If children develop core strategies early on, they can apply them throughout their life and adapt them to suit their current situation.

Without these skills, problems feel monumental, unsurpassable and seemingly impossible to manage. With a growing number of children in primary schools diagnosed with mental health needs, teaching and developing the necessary coping skills is becoming all the more important for schools to get right.

But what does coping actually mean?

For anyone, the ability to cope in a stressful situation is to successfully manage his or her emotions and be able to seek a suitable way to feel better and deal with the problem. From mindfulness and meditation to support from family or professionals, it’s imperative that children develop a ‘toolbox’ to pick out the strategies that work for them and that fit the problem they’re trying to deal with.

If we’re able to teach children to understand their emotions, as well as how their body may feel and react during times of stress, they will be able to identify what they need to do to feel better. It’s not a case of simply shying away from a challenge when it presents itself however; it’s about developing coping behaviours that can help children to manage their emotions successfully. Building that growth mindset plays a huge role here too.

Challenges present themselves to everyone. Being able to manage your own emotions is crucial, but so is the ability to recognise when others aren’t coping too. Explicit teaching of coping skills can enable children to support their peers successfully when they need help and can only strengthen friendships and relationships they make now and in the future.

Teaching Coping Skills Using the HCS Programme

From the foundation stage all the way through to Year 6, we teach the children to build and develop their coping skills through powerful questioning and related activities. This approach ensures that they develop their understanding of coping behaviours and are then able to put them into practise.

Below are some examples of the questions for children to consider.

Foundation Stage

  • What do feelings mean and why do I need coping skills?
  • How do I cope when I can’t do something yet?
  • Do I know how to feel better and help others to feel better too?

Key Stage 1

  • How can I understand my feelings and make myself feel better?
  • What does it mean to cope?
  • Why is it important to have good coping skills?

Key Stage 2

  • How can coping skills help me learn?
  • What coping skills can I use in school?
  • Can I recognise when my body is not coping as well and put in strategies to help myself cope better?
  • How can I use mindfulness techniques to help me cope?

More information on the Happy-Centred School programme and some free resources

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Are organisations and companies just paying lip service?
Join some of the most interesting and respected voices in positive psychology for our Our Big Chat about…Thinking outside the tick box, inaugural webinar. Our two and half hour interactive event will look at the best mental health strategies for organisations, identifying what works and what doesn’t.

Dave McPartlin:

Dave is the Headteacher of Flakefleet Primary School.
Creating the right environment for people and communities to flourish

Sunita Hirani

Sunita is one of the BBC’s key equality, diversity and inclusivity experts.
Why inclusion is essential for mental wellbeing

Professor Sir Cary Cooper

Cary is one the world’s most influential voices in occupational health and wellbeing.
Enhancing Mental Wellbeing at Work. Evidence based strategies for creating a wellbeing culture at work.

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