How to deal with stress

Being a parent is the most demanding job in the world, yet most of us train “on the job.” When things are going well, savor the moment. Give your child hugs and plenty of praise. Be generous with pats on the back for yourself and the other adults in your life, and don’t be afraid to admit mistakes - your child will respect your honesty.

Sometimes things will not go well. You may feel stressed, angry and overwhelmed. The way you deal with these times is important. Even young children can learn to understand how you’re feeling if you tell them.

Try these tension relievers

  • Give yourself a time out. If your child is an infant or toddler, put him in a safe place first, the go to another room for a few minutes.
  • Count to ten. It really does help to stop and simply count to ten.
  • Lie on the couch, put your feet up and place a cool cloth on your eyes or forehead. Take a couple of deep breaths and think of a peaceful scene. Lie there for at least five minutes.
  • Call someone who understands what you’re going through. Tell what’s bothering you and get the support you need.
  • If your children take naps, use that quiet time to pamper yourself. Take a bubble bath, read a book or listen to soothing music with your eyes closed.
  • Change your daily routine. Take a walk, visit a friend, or watch a special program on television.
  • Do something physical. Physical activity is good for you and your children. It lets off steam, and often it’s free.

Know when to ask for help

These tension relievers may not be enough. Even when you work hard to control your emotions, you may feel that you can’t stand the frustration any longer. This doesn’t make you a bad parent- just make sure you’re a smart one and ask for help.

If you can answer, "Yes" to any of these questions, you may benefit from some outside help.

  • Do you feel as though you take your frustrations out on your kids?
  • Do you feel out of control more than you like?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed and see no way out of problem situations?
  • Do you strike out either physically or verbally when you’re angry with your children?
  • Do you feel as if your children misbehave on purpose?
  • Are you frustrated because your children don’t listen to you?
  • Do you feel as if you "pick on" a particular child?
  • Do you feel that your children rarely do what you expect of them?
  • Do you feel as if you can’t talk to your kids?

It’s not always easy to reach out for help, but when you do you’ll find many caring people who want to hear from you, people who will listen and provide assistance.