Coping Skills and Brain Works Project lessons on this website are designed to prepare pre-teens to better understand and effectively cope with adolescent brain and behavior changes and everyday stress that challenges their coping capability. As we approach the teenage years and middle school the student’s brain and body are also starting to prepare for the transition from being a child to becoming an adult. During this second decade of life, a pre-teen’s sense of well-being and coping confidence will be challenged like never before. Adolescent brain and emotional changes are inevitable. But they often result in one of life’s most challenging periods for dealing with stress, upsets and worry.
What might happen if we don’t learn healthy coping skills?
Whenever we experience emotional distress arising from the four core wounding experiences – loss, rejection, betrayal and humiliation – we have a choice of “hiding” from or ignoring these upsetting experiences or using our coping brain functions to deal with them. Think of it this way: Failure to learn or use healthy coping skills may result in self-punishing brain habits that keep us running from rejection; lost in our losses; battered by betrayals; or haunted by humiliations.
The Connection between Stress, Coping and Learning
Brain research is often conducted on rats because we wouldn’t want to experiment with or harm a human’s brain just to discover how it affects their behavior. Scientists have discovered a major challenge to our coping ability occurs when chemicals released during stress reduce our brain's ability to learn and cope. Areas of our brain’s memory can become damaged when stress lasts for long periods of time. One reason for learning healthy coping skills is to help us get over stress, anger and sadness before it affects our brain’s coping and learning ability. During pre-teen and teenage years normal brain development and hormonal changes increase the effects of everyday stressful experiences. Since we become more sensitive to emotional brain changes during adolescence, our coping ability may fail to help us recover from stress anger and sadness. Latest scientific research shows that stressful periods affect our brain’s ability to learn, pay attention and store memory. The longer we remain in stress the more chance our memory, attention and learning part of our brain will be affected. This is why we need to learn healthy coping skills when we are young. These skills, once learned, stay with us throughout life to help us recover more easily from upsetting events and stress.
Coping Challenges Increase the Need to Learn Healthy Coping Skills
Let’s examine six types of coping challenges that add stress to normal pre-teens during a time when their brain is changing and developing as part of adolescence. To some degree every pre-teen and teenager must learn to deal with these difficult challenges by learning how their coping brain can deal with its own operation as well as respond to everyday upsets, emotional confusion and stress.