It's Tough To Be A Parent Right Now

Our children are back in school under unique and challenging circumstances – whether that’s in-person, remote learning, or some hybrid model. Worrying about their safety and trying to determine how school is working for them can be stressful – both for children and parents.

As parents/caregivers, we have the difficult job of trying to co-regulate children during this stressful time, as well as regulate ourselves!

The Empowering Principles from Trust Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®) teach us how to cope with stressful situations. TBRI® Empowering Principles focus on addressing the physical needs of a child and help children learn important skills like self-regulation. By helping children co-regulate (having adults provide support and teach the children how to manage their behaviors), they learn to self-regulate (manage their emotional responses by themselves) when they are older.

This is an extremely stressful time to parent as we try to balance changes in school schedules and expectations, our work, home responsibilities, and, of course, the needs of our children. At times, our children’s needs can become overwhelming. This is true for any parent, but especially true for the parent of a child from a hard place.

Sometimes we need reminders about how to regulate ourselves in order to effectively model this behavior for our children.

Techniques to help manage overwhelm

Some of the techniques we suggest to manage these overwhelming feelings are calming music, yoga, fidgets, weighted items, wall pushes, taking some space, deep breathing, calming smells, and creating a regulation poster.

Verbally telling your child that you are feeling overwhelmed and that you need help with a calming strategy is an opportunity for you to be able to show your child that it’s okay to need to take a break. Sometimes children feel like because we are adults we don’t have the same emotional responses.  Informing your child that you’re having difficulty regulating allows them to see that adults need help, too, and that they are not alone. Children are wonderfully resilient if we teach them the skills needed to help them be successful adults.

So, parents/caregivers, give yourself some grace if you’re getting frustrated with changing expectations or your child is crying after a day of school and you’re feeling overwhelmed. Parenting during a health pandemic is new to most/all of us and something we never expected to do. The uncertainty and stress is hard. Remember to take time and regulate yourself first, so that you can help regulate your child. This is especially evident with school starting and frequent changes in the schedules of our children.

For more self-care practices and tips, check out our July 23 blog here. And please remember to give yourself some grace.

By Stacey Merrill, LCPCc, Turner Family Counseling Center Clinician at The Maine Children’s Home for The Connected Community @MCH.