This technique usually comes into play when a child tells the mentor about a difficult event that has happened. Rather than dwelling on the problem, the mentor encourages the child to think and talk about how they got through the situation and what they did to stop it from escalating.
The child is encouraged to see that they are not powerless to affect their situation but already have a measure of control, something they can use as the basis for a more complete solution.
By using this component you can look for the strengths and inner resources they have used to cope with a difficult situation.
The exact wording of this question varies according to context, but will usually be something like ‘How did you cope with that?’, ‘What pleased you about the way you handled that?’ or ‘What did you do to stop that from getting worse?’
Coping questions can be used in may different situations. For example, when a child does an activity he/she is scared of, Coping Questions can be used to highlight all the skills the child has used to face this fear.
Ryan had many fears at the start of his mentoring year including dogs, escalators, heights, etc. With the help and support of his mentor he was able to face each fear and slowly recognise that he actually wasn’t scared of dogs or escalators. He was able to eventually face his fear of heights by going on a cable car and realised that he enjoyed being high up.
Tony had difficulties sitting still and focusing on a task, which was leading to various difficulties at school, such as regular exclusions. He demonstrated the ability to remain seated, focused and engaged during mentoring sessions. Coping questions can be used in this situation to help Tony think about the skills he is using when he has shown the ability to calmly focus on an activity that requires concentration and focus. He can be asked how he coped with a potentially challenging activity, the skills he used to remain engaged with the task and how he can use these skills at school.
Here are some additional ideas on how you can explore Coping Questions in a child-friendly way:
Computer game COPING QUESTIONS