Parents: Practicing and Modeling Effective Coping Strategies

Parenting is a journey filled with moments of joy, love, and fulfillment, but it also can bring its share of challenges. With stress in parenthood being inevitable, it’s important to have strategies you can turn towards to help you to cope through the stress in effective and healthy ways. Practicing healthy coping skills not only benefits you, but your whole family.

Letting our children see our uncomfortable emotions while we model how to cope through them is one of the most important ways that we can support their wellbeing and development. Even if your children are not (yet) strong-willed and independent teenagers, they are still more likely to learn from their parents’ modeling than anything said by their parents.

To show up for our families the way that we want to, it’s essential for parents to prioritize their own well-being (have you heard us talk about how you can’t pour from an empty cup?). Try these coping strategies pro-actively, and during times of stress, to help build your resilience and keep your cup full (enough).

Prioritize Your Own Care – Really. 

Being a parent can make us feel like we are always “on”. Even when we are not actively with our children and parenting, we are doing the mental gymnastics of parenting; What can I serve with dinner so that everyone will eat it? I need to remember to make dentist appointments for the kids. Do last year’s rain boots still fit? How many naps should my baby be taking now?

This feeling of always being on can leave us feeling like we have little to no time to adequately care for ourselves, but even taking just a few minutes for yourself can make a big difference! Try to schedule in time across the week, even if only a few minutes, for yourself to find movement, disconnect and take a break, read, do something that brings you joy, or enjoy a healthy snack. Prioritizing self-care allows us to recharge and better handle the demands of parenting.

Seek Social Support.

Connecting with other parents, friends, or parenting groups can provide valuable perspective and emotional support, which can help to alleviate the feelings of stress and isolation that parenting can elicit. Often, local libraries are aware of local parenting supports, or you can check here.  If you’re more comfortable, or it’s more feasible, for you to connect with other parents virtually, check out these free, virtual parenting support groups.

Practice Mindfulness and Stress Reduction Techniques

Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation can help us to manage stress and stay present in the moment. To create an even more powerful learning opportunity for your children, try thinking aloud just before trying one of these out; you could mention the stressful experience, and the choice you are making to help yourself relax.

Using positive self-talk, and affirmations, can also decrease stress and increase feelings of competence and satisfaction. Write down or print out a few of our affirmation cards below to remind yourself daily, or when things feel hard, that you are doing everything you need to be.

Seek Professional Help.

Sometimes, as we cope through parenting challenges or difficult seasons of parenting, professional support may be beneficial. One of the best ways to build resilience for our children is to ask for, or seek out, help when we need it. At Invest EAP/Centers for Wellbeing, we are standing by and ready to support you on your parenting journey; simply click here or call 866-660-9533.