8 ways to manage the stress of parenting young children
Even the most patient parents get stressed when dealing with infants and toddlers who need their constant care and attention. Stress can lead to anger if it goes unmanaged for too long.
The Dayton Children’s trauma department has seen a 20 percent rise in possible physical child abuse cases during January-May 2021 compared to January-May 2019 (2020 was excluded due to the COVID-19 pandemic affecting these numbers.)
“Parents need tools, support and resources to manage their stress,” says Libby Nicholson, director of CARE House. "Without support, parents can get overwhelmed and respond in ager by lashing out."
8 ways to help you or someone you know manage the stress of parenting young children:
- Walk away. Put the baby in a safe place, a crib or pack and play are the best options, then leave the room. Check in on the baby every 10-15 minutes, but know it is okay to let the baby cry if you need a break.
- Move your body. Regular exercise can help you feel less stressed. Even if you must take the baby with you, put them in a stroller and take a walk. The fresh air and movement are good for parent and child.
- Breathe deeply. Taking slow, deep breaths can help slow your heart rate and allows you to think before you act.
- Sleep when you can. This one is easier said than done. Exhaustion can lead to stressful situation so try and get as much sleep as possible. Make sure you are following safe sleep practices. Never fall asleep with your child in your bed or laying on top of you. Make sure baby is sleeping alone, on their back, in their crib.
- Make time for yourself. Children need constant attention and supervision. Make sure you set aside time each week to do something that is just for you.
- Call a friend or family member. You are not alone. Calling someone you trust allows you to vent when you get frustrated.
- Ask for help. It is normal to need help from time to time! Friends, neighbors, relatives, and professionals want to help, but may not know how. Reach out to them with specific needs to help reduce your stress.
- Choose your child’s caregiver wisely. Make sure you are leaving your child with someone you trust. Never leave your child with a person who is easily irritated, has a temper, or a history of violence.
“If you know someone who has a young child and might need support, reach out and offer to help the parent,” says Nicholson. “If you have reasonable suspicion that a child has been abused or neglected, please contact your local Children’s Services agency. In an emergency, call 911. You will reach your local law enforcement agency.”
Did you know the Dayton region has child advocacy centers that can provide answers or support about possible abuse? Learn more about the child advocacy center near you by checking out the links below:
CARE House in Montgomery County - 937-641-4545
Child Advocacy Center of Warren County- 513-695-3100
Michael’s House in Greene County- 937-641-5670