Managing Family Stress

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  1. Accept your child's limitations: a child with the capability to get only B's or to perform only "average" in athletics or music can become guilt-ridden if he thinks he's done his best, but let you down. Don't compare your child with other children.
  2. Talk about your child's day: ask him what was great about his day; what did he do well.
  3. Encourage your child to express feelings: tell him it's OK to feel sad and to cry. Take time to listen without giving advice or passing judgment.
  4. Spend some one-on-one time with your child every day.
  5. Show your child that you respect people and that you respect life: teach him compassion and empathy for others, including the young, old, persons with a disability or cultural/ethnic differences.
  6. Acknowledge childhood pressures: remember that losing a teddy bear, not being asked to the birthday party, or not passing a pop quiz can be as traumatic to a child as not having money to pay the rent can be for adults.
  7. Expect some rebellion: and remember, "This, too, shall pass." Don't make a big issue out of small things that bother you.
  8. Be honest: when answering questions about delicate issues such as sex, divorce, or death.
  9. Restrict and monitor TV and movie viewing.
  10. Sympathize with your child: when he is hurt or experiences a loss.
  11. Set a good example: show your child that when you're feeling down, you work out your frustrations by talking to friends, exercising, praying, enjoying something funny, etc.

Consult a health professional: if you think your child is having problems neither he nor you can handle.


If you are boiling over, don't take it out on your kids! Try any or all of these simple alternatives - whatever works for you.

  • Take a deep breath. And another. Then remember, you are the adult.
  • Close your eyes and imagine you are hearing what your child is about to hear.
  • Press your lips together and count to ten. Or better yet, to 20.
  • Exercise to release tension.
  • Phone a friend.
  • If someone can watch your child, go outside and take a walk.
  • Take a hot bath or splash cold water on your face.
  • Turn on some music, maybe even sing a song.
  • Drink a glass of cold water.
  • Rethink about what you want to say and what you want to do.
  • Empathize and try to understand the point of view of the person who is making you angry.
  • If you do lash out, apologize.


Encourage your children to practice these techniques also. Empower your children by setting the example for how to deal with anger.

Ask Dr. Susan