So. Much. Stress. You work hard all week, juggle your child’s school and extracurricular activities, and try to be a good parent and partner. It’s exhausting.
Add to that a national teen mental health crisis at the tail end of a two-year pandemic. It’s enough to crush any parent who’s trying to ensure that their family is thriving, despite all the pressure.
We all want to raise children who are resilient so they’ll become strong, healthy adults. But in order to build resilience in our kids, we have to practice and model it ourselves. To create a positive and supportive environment for our children, we need to understand the best ways to cope with the stresses of everyday life.
What is Parental Resilience?
Resilience is the ability to manage stress when faced with challenges, adversity, and even trauma. Parents who can cope well with daily stressors–and the occasional crisis–have resilience. They know when and how to seek help in times of trouble.
By handling life’s ups and downs, parents serve as role models for their children, which can help them learn coping skills, self-regulation, and problem solving. Because NO ONE gets through life without encountering stress at some point, resilience is one of the most important life skills we can teach our kids.
Research shows that HOW a parent responds to stress is more likely to result in favorable outcomes and show children the benefits of managing stressful situations calmly when faced with them. While there is no perfect formula or recipe for solving every problem that arises, we can build our personal resilience so we’re ready to make wise decisions and be proactive when stressors come our way.
Tips for Building Personal Resilience
What can you do to stay calm and carry on? Here are a few suggestions.
- Carve out time for yourself each day for self-care, even if it’s just a few minutes.
- Take daily walks outside. Fresh air and simply being outside can do wonders for alleviating stress.
- Try daily meditation or deep breathing exercises. Think of your happy place. Relaxing can help you recharge and power through the rest of the day.
- Seek out connections. Have coffee or lunch with a colleague or meet a friend after work. You don’t necessarily need to share your stress–sometimes just forgetting about it for a while can make a world of difference.
- If you’re feeling overwhelmed, talk to a professional. Ask your primary care doctor or a close friend whom you trust for a recommendation.
Not All Stress Is Equal
Let’s face it–stress comes in many different forms and degrees. Some stressors can be managed fairly easily: you were called into a late afternoon meeting so you can’t pick up your child on time from swim practice. You know what to do; you call a relative or neighbor to help you out and promise to return the favor. Problem solved!
But some stressors aren’t that easy to solve. For example, you can’t “fix” your child’s learning disability or erase their heartbreak after a bad breakup. These situations are when you need to find your inner strength to help your child cope and heal.
We all have resources and inner strengths that make us more resilient than we thought possible: faith, humor, love, and the ability to actively listen when our child is suffering, especially if they’re experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month and a reminder that if you know or suspect your child is having suicidal thoughts to get them professional help immediately via 911, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or the Crisis Text Line (text “HOME” to 741741).
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among school-age youth. It’s also preventable. Research shows that the presence of resiliency factors can lessen the risk factors that lead to suicidal ideation and behaviors.
No one said parenting is easy. The world that our children are experiencing is much more complex than the one in which we grew up. If we can show them our resilience, then hopefully they will learn from us. And, when they need us most, we need to be there to listen–and hear–their cries for help, then use all of our inner strength, resources, and love to catch them when they fall.