17 Oct A Few Ways To Cope As A Stressed Parent With Kids
Do you feel overwhelmed, exhausted, stressed, and on top of this, are you struggling with managing your child’s outbursts? Are you a stressed parent with kids? You are not alone! Many parents feel as if they are at their wits’ end trying to balance daily living stresses with the behaviors of their own kids. And as we know it, stress can affect us in many different ways. It is safe to say that when we are feeling overwhelmed, our stress tolerance goes down. Sometimes, way down. This means that certain responsibilities and tasks may start to feel unbearable. It is true that a week ago, or even a month ago, those same tasks and responsibilities were not nearly as daunting. How we are viewing the situation is easily influenced by our own perception.
Cognitive Reframing May Be the Answer
Have you heard the saying, ‘Do you see the glass half empty, or half full’? This is such a common question that we may easily overlook, depending on how we are feeling. In certain cases, we already know the purpose of this question and may find ourselves rolling our eyes at it. But this simple question holds an even bigger answer to how we find balance in a state of chaos.
Cognitive reframing is based off of the idea that we are in control of how we view situations. It gives us insight to the fact that we are in charge of the lens in which we view situations. This lens is dependent upon our perspective, or our point of view. Our perspective can be so influential that it actually has the potential of changing our experience. You can get started in 3 steps.
Step 1 – Bring Awareness To Thoughts Associated With Your Experience
If you are thinking, “My child never listens to me!” or “Nothing works! No matter what I do, my child’s temper tantrums will never stop!” then being stuck in a negative thought pattern may be impacting your stress tolerance. Noticing your thoughts and identifying a pattern to them is a key element in cognitive reframing. Recognizing that taking an “all or nothing” approach, or focusing on the negative such as the cons of a situation, can contribute to our feelings of stress. If we are constantly taking the side of feeling that we are unable to handle a situation, then of course, we are going to feel that we are helpless and not in control. When we feel as if we are not in control, our anxiety rises and we find ourselves naturally stressed in many other situations.
Step 2 – Challenge Your Negative Thinking Pattern
We can do this by using logic and reasoning to support our thoughts. We can ask ourselves, “Is this my negative thinking taking over?” or “Am I 100% sure that my child’s angry outbursts will never stop”, and “Is there evidence to support this?” Using simple logic can help diminish the impact negative thinking has on us. After recognizing the negative thoughts, we can then challenge them by choosing to view the situation from a more positive perspective.
Step 3 – Practice Positivity
Reflect on the positives that you experience and acknowledging them when they arise. This can be done when noticing your child making positive choices and pointing that out. Not only will this help your child feel better, but you will also benefit from it as well. Noticing your negative thoughts, challenging them, and viewing them from a lens of positivity contributes to your sense of control and balance.
How Mindfulness Can Help
Mindfulness is a practice that brings our awareness to the present moment. Stress and anxiety are often based on future or past events. We may find ourselves worrying about future events or commitments. Then, before you know it, the wheels of your mind are up and rolling. Our minds are so active that we can find ourselves replaying a whole series of imagined events that never actually happened. Being stuck in a negative thought pattern greatly impacts our perception of future events which can be based on negative experiences we have encountered. Mindfulness can be a great tool in challenging the influence our negative thinking can have on us.
A Few Mindfulness Techniques
Bring Awareness To Your 5 Senses
Just bringing your awareness to the five senses is a great way to start. Naming what you see, hear, feel, taste, and smell around you gets your mind out of the future and the past. This is a great grounding technique that brings you back to the very moment you are experiencing.
Notice Your Breath
This is another great tool. The breath is our anchor to the present moment. It is what we need for survival and can aid us in any situation. Just noticing your breath is practicing mindfulness. Notice now, are you holding on to your breath? Is it flowing naturally? Are you breathing rapidly? Bring awareness to your breath patterns and try to find equal length between both your inhale and your exhale. This valuable tool can kick in within seconds and offers you a sense of peace.
Other Common Breathing Exercises
One is called four square breathing. This is where you inhale on a count of 4, hold your breath for 4, and exhale for 4. When practicing this, you can visualize tracing a square. Another common technique is where you breath in on a count of 10 and then exhale for 10. This is a simple exercise that is also easy to remember.
There you have it! You no longer have to feel as if you are that stressed parent with kids! You are capable of taking control of how you view your stress. Keeping practicing during difficult times and before you know it, you will find yourself in a lighter more positive mood. Following these simple steps will allow for a more well-balanced and peaceful frame of mind. If you feel like a stressed parent with kids, we can help. Please contact us to schedule an appointment.
Jeanine is a Licensed Professional Counselor who earned her Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Northeastern Illinois University. She also earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Jeanine has been working with children, teens, young adults, adults, and their families in a variety of settings, such as private practice, therapeutic day schools, and residential settings since 2015.