The way children cope with stress happens in one of two ways: they either face it or avoid it. Children use defense mechanisms that allow themselves to reduce tension and to temporarily regain balance. Children tend to use one of the four following strategies in dealing with stress. Denial, regression, withdrawal, or impulsively acting out.
- Denial: The child will act as if the problem does not exist. Denial serves to eliminate pain and can help the child preserve their equilibrium. Children may also use fantasy to falsify their reality to feel no stress or pain. This may include making up imaginary friends to keep from feeling alone or imaginary beliefs to feel safe.
- Regression: The child will resort to acting younger than he or she really is to go back to a time where they felt safe and the stress did not exist. The child will become more dependent and/or demanding and may receive more comforting and affection than usual, thus relieving the child of the stress they feel.
- Withdrawal: Children will take themselves out of the picture. They run and hide from the stressful environment or become quiet and invisible. they may day dream to escape mentally when they can not escape physically. This temporarily relieves the child of his or her tension.
- Impulsively acting out: The child will begin to misbehave to make others angry at them, trying to hide their misery. This is only temporary and will lead the child to mare acting out and trouble. Ultimately proving to be self-destructive.