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What to Do When You Feel Frustrated by Everything

Five simple steps to help you cope with stress

Published on: April 04, 2022


If you’re a parent, you know what frustration feels like. Regardless of your situation — partnered or single, working or stay-at-home — frustration can be a familiar and frequent sensation.

Many parents find themselves getting frustrated more easily and more often than they did a few years ago. That’s not surprising, as some long-term effects of the pandemic are now hitting home. Parents may be stressed about big issues such as jobs, money and housing. Plus, they’re worried about their kids’ emotional well-being, social skills and learning milestones.

This excerpted post was originally published on the Seattle Children’s website.
Seattle Children's

Self-care is crucial for everyone, and especially for stressed-out parents. It doesn’t have to be indulgent or expensive — not everyone can swing a spa day or a yoga retreat. Basic self-care means eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, enjoying favorite hobbies, spending time alone to recharge and connecting with close friends. It also means reaching out for help and support, such as trading child-care duties with another parent so you get some time to yourself, confiding in a trusted friend, attending a workshop or webinar, or talking with your doctor or counselor.

Parenting offers plenty of frustration triggers, including crying infants, willful toddlers, surly teens and the extra attention a child with special needs can require. In any case, it’s important to recognize frustration as soon as you feel it creeping up. Then, take action to prevent it from growing so you don’t say or do anything unkind.

One powerful technique is the “Take 5” method, which you can teach your child, too! Here’s the five-step method:

  • Stop. Step away. Give yourself space.
  • Take a short break to breathe. Allow your heart rate to return to normal.
  • Remind yourself, “I can do this” or “It’s important to stay calm.”
  • Ask yourself, “How can I handle this situation in a way that I will feel good about?”
  • If possible, ask for support from a partner or family member, or call or text a friend or neighbor.

Another great resource, especially for parents of children with special needs, is Parent-to-Parent (P2P), whose services include free, one-on-one support from volunteer peer mentors — parents who’ve been through similar trials. To learn more about P2P in Washington state, visit the website or call 1-800-821-5927.

Peaceful parenting is about keeping a calm spirit and an open, loving heart: You’ve got this!

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