Coping with uncertainty and strong emotions

What are emotional coping skills?

Emotional coping skills help children manage feelings that are common, but still uncomfortable. Feelings like uncertainty, worry, anger and sadness can’t just be ignored.

There are many positive ways to support emotional coping skills. Children can learn to express and manage worry and other strong emotions in healthy ways. Handling difficult emotions is a key life skill. It’s something all parents and caregivers can support children and teenagers to develop.

Why are coping skills important?

Kids have good days and not-so-good days. But sometimes you can see they’re feeling uncertain and that everyday worries are adding up. Children and teens need help to learn to manage uncomfortable emotions in healthy ways. They also need to become more confident about their own coping abilities. Not just now, but in the future, too.

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Helping kids manage the stress of uncertainty

What can make it harder to develop emotional coping skills?

Children need to be loved and cared for, and shielded from genuine danger and harm. They need to have parents involved in their lives. At the same time, too much of this can rob kids of confidence in their ability to handle challenges. They can end up relying on their parents instead of growing more independent. And if they never learn how to cope with uncertainty and uncomfortable emotions, they will struggle in adulthood. Parents can get the balance right, and support coping skills, by making positive changes.

How can I help my child cope with uncertainty?


  • Children often learn by example. Even though parents are sometimes concerned or even upset, it's not the end of the world. It can be handled. It can be talked about. It can be looked at as a challenge or minor setback. This teaches kids that occasional setbacks are a normal part of life and problems can be solved. And that helps them in the long term. You're letting your child know that uncomfortable feelings can be managed.
  • Children need to experience reasonable levels of risk, failure and disappointment, with parents supporting them just enough and not too much. Of course, you can't just throw your child into the world and expect them to cope.
  • The younger a child is, the more they'll need your emotional support. But when a child is old enough, rather than simply reassuring, you can help children and teenagers work out how THEY can deal with difficult or challenging situations.

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Strengthen your child's coping skills

New skills and strategies to handle challenging or difficult behavior and situations help parents and caregivers develop new ways of dealing with life in general. Better relationships and more positive interactions help increase a child’s or teenager’s emotional resilience.