Creative Coping Strategies

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You don’t always get what you want.  I’m just telling you the truth.  Sometimes things go very differently than you would like them to.  And in order to survive, you have to develop some strategies for coping with those times of discouragement, disappointment and despair.

You definitely have to cope with times when the cooking spray runs out when you are trying to make yourself an egg, which is the only thing you know how to cook, and your mom hasn’t made breakfast yet.  This is just what happened to my poor Joseph this morning.  He was STARVING and he ran out of cooking spray.  He politely asked “Do we have any more cooking spray?”  And when I responded in the negative, he silently collapsed on the kitchen floor where he ceased to exist, recovering conveniently just as breakfast was served.


Those of you who know Joseph, know that he is an all-around great kid.  He is creative and witty and fun to be around.  He is a GATE student and an amazing pianist and a talented artist.  Joseph has always been a peacemaker in our family.  He does not like contention or confrontation, and goes to great lengths to avoid them.  So this “ceasing to exist” has been one of Joseph’s most successful coping strategies.  If things don’t go the way he wants them to, he doesn’t fight about it, he just pretends like he doesn’t exist anymore.  And after a while, he gets over it and feels better.

On his fourth birthday, we threw Joseph a party.  He and his friends were taking turns trying to break a dollar-store piñata.  It just so happened that someone else broke the piñata.  This is not the way Joseph had planned it, so he ceased to exist for a while.

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And when he came back into existence, he was totally over it.

Joseph’s coping strategy does not bother me, because it is silent.  (People with kids, especially with a lot of kids, really value silence.) Rather than whining or fit-throwing, Joseph just becomes a lump on the ground somewhere.  Although this kind of behavior may not go over very well in the classroom or the workplace, there is something I can learn from it.  First, just because I’m miserable doesn’t mean I should make other people miserable.  And second, it is a good idea to give myself some time out rather than acting in frustration or haste, especially after a big disappointment like, you know, running out of cooking spray or not getting to break your own piñata!

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  1. Marybeth says

    I am not going to lie. I am praying that one of my kids marries one of your kids. I honestly don’t care which one, but there has got to be a match in there somewhere And I just love Joseph!

  2. Kathryn says

    This made me smile. Quinn’s mom called that “being broken”. Quinn used to do that. he would crumple to the floor and not move or respond. I never thought I could actually learn from it. You are wise. Thanks for sharing your gift with us!!

  3. Annie says

    Ba-ha-ha! What a great way to describe it! Ben turns into “Mr Limpy Legs.” An simply “melts” to the ground. I love reading you insights!

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