Parents are often faced with managing a busy schedule including job related responsibilities, household duties, and raising their children. These demands occasionally result in parenting stress, which is stress associated with being a parent. Parenting stress is associated with both parenting behaviors and child adjustment. Numerous studies have shown that parents who report higher levels of parenting stress are more likely to be authoritarian, harsh, and negative in their interactions with their child (e.g., Deater-Deckard & Scarr, 1996). Furthermore, parenting stress decreases the quality of the parent-child relationship (Turner et al., 2010). Sources of parenting stress may include (Dabrowska & Pisula, 2010): permanency of the condition or diagnosis, disapproval for the child’s symptoms by society and/or family members, and inadequate professional support. Studies have also shown that ethnic minority parents report significantly higher levels of parenting stress due to structural disadvantages such as lower income, single parenthood and assimilation/acculturation (Nomaguchi & House, 2012).
Parents of children who are diagnosed with a behavioral disorder or developmental disability are at increased risk of parenting stress. To date, numerous studies have demonstrated that parents of children with autism spectrum disorders or developmental disabilities report higher levels of parenting stress compared to parents of typically developed children (e.g., Dabrowska & Pisula, 2010; Estes et al., 2013). Below are some tips to help decrease parenting stress.
1. Seek professional help
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, seek professional help from a psychologist or licensed mental health professional. Psychologist can be helpful to provide strategies to help you cope with life’s challenges. Additionally, they may be able to provide you with resources to help improve your child’s functioning and decrease problem behaviours that may increase parenting stress.
2. Increase quality time with family
Find ways to do enjoyable activities with you and your family. By spending more quality time together, it improves the parent-child relationship. Furthermore, it is not helpful to overly focus on everything that is not going well in your child’s life. Even though it may be difficult to incorporate extracurricular activities into the family’s schedule, consider being creative by having a family game night or engage in other activities that your child enjoys.
3. Make time for yourself
Many parents of children with special needs or mental health conditions have a hard time taking a break. This may be partly due to the time required to care for your child. However, many also feel they need permission to have some alone time. It is okay to take a break for yourself. It’s actually healthy and more beneficial for you and your child to have some time apart.
4. Use your support systems
It is extremely important to make use of your support systems. Having social support is very helpful to decreasing parenting stress. For example, if extended family is available ask them to provide child care for a few hours during the week so you can engage in self-care. Support systems may also be helpful to provide an avenue for you to talk with others about how they cope with being a parent. It is always good to hear how others have addressed a problem or find that you are not alone.
For more information about ways to manage stress visit: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-race-good-health/201306/4-tips-managing-parenting-stress