Managing your stress as a parent: Your children learn from how you handle daily challenges

Taking Action
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – All this week WHNT News 19 has been Taking Action for Families with our special reports on parenting.  We’ve covered nurturing, communication, discipline and safety and hosted an action line to take your parenting questions.

But what about some self-care?  We know how stressful being a parent can be.  We wrap up our series with a look at stress management for mom and dad.

At 3 and a half, Zoey Noelle is a bright and energetic pre-schooler who keeps mom Alicia Nunez on her toes.

“We have our moments where, okay, let’s stop and let’s reset.  And for me, a reset is maybe mommy needs to take a minute. So, daddy has to take over or we both need a timeout, so to speak,” said Nunez.

That’s an excellent example of how to handle parental stress, according to Deborah Callins of the National Children’s Advocacy Center. The key is to recognize your stress before you hit the boiling point.

“That anger is not going to change the situation at hand.  Yes, it may have made you feel better but it didn’t make anyone in the path of your wrath feel any better,” said Callins.

“You just go to your room for a few minutes and take some deep breaths, maybe check some social media stuff on your phone then go back in and – okay – let’s get supper going,” said Nunez.

Left unchecked, stress can lead to a host of physical and emotional problems, taking a toll on you and your family.

“Stressors will always be there,” said Callins.  “Some you might could adjust in some way, others you just have to figure out how are you going to cope with them.”

Here are just a few ideas to consider:

  • A hobby can be a great way to relieve stress.  If time is an issue, choose something the family can do together — like gardening.
  • Enlist a friend or relative to watch the children while you get away for a few hours.
  • Set a bedtime that allows you to have some personal time, as well as family time.
  • Finally, get your children to help out around the house.  Mom and Dad shouldn’t have to do it all.

“It may be that the children help set the table or carry things off the table or can help, you know, fold towels, something simple, depends on the age of the child,” Callins suggests.

With a second child on the way, Alicia Nunez knows keeping her stress level to a minimum is important, but so is teaching her daughter how to manage her own stress.

“We try to keep our routine as much as possible.  When that’s off, the stress is a little higher,” Nunez said.

With families busier than ever before, stress management is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity.

If you’re interested in learning more about coping with stress, here are some additional resources that may help: