February 9, 2021/Children's Health

Ready to Snap? Tips for Stressed-Out Parents

Our experts explain how to keep your cool when it counts

stressed out father

You work hard in a high-stress job. You fight traffic to pick your kids up from daycare, school or sports. Then you go from chauffeur to chef at home.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

It’s no wonder toddler tantrums or teenage rebellion can push a parent over the edge.

Learning to manage stress can give you the patience, energy and perspective to be the parent you want to be. And it will pay dividends for your health and ability to function well.

Here, our pediatric experts share some tips on managing stress for parents:

Try not to bring stress home

It isn’t easy, but separating work life from home life is important, says pediatrician J. Michael Wertman, MD.

  • Try talking briefly to a friend, spouse or coworker to help defuse stress before you leave work.
  • Imagine putting your problems in a box to compartmentalize them. This can help redirect your energy to your home life and children.
  • “On the drive home, be aware of how you’re feeling,” he suggests. “Is traffic increasing your stress? If so, try to ‘chill.’ Take a deep breath, play music.”

There’s nothing better than coming home to a warm welcome from your kids and family. “If not, find your child and get a hug,” he says.

Seek opportunities for fun

Choose activities to do with your kids that make you happy. “You’ll feel better about yourself and will deal better with your kids,” says Dr. Wertman.

  • Love sports? Coach or cheer for your child’s team (but avoid making everything a win-lose situation).
  • Are you a bookworm? Read to your kids, then discuss the book. “It’s an opportunity to be positive, to encourage and to enjoy a unique closeness,” he notes.


“My biggest joy was always looking for the laughter and finding the smile. If that happened, I considered my day a success.”

Remember to relax and recharge

Take time for yourself every day.

“Even if it’s just an hour in the evening after the kids go to bed, it’s really important to have time to ‘reset’ as a parent,” says pediatric nurse practitioner Crista Zufan, CNP. “I find reading in the evening a great way to decompress and relieve stress.”

You probably know what works for you. “Whether it’s yoga, meditation, reading a book, playing cards, watching TV or playing sports, try to incorporate it into your day,” says Dr. Wertman.

At day’s end, “get a good night’s sleep,” advises pediatrician Svetlana Pomeranets, MD. Equally important is keeping kids on a routine schedule, especially for bedtime.

Ask for backup when you need it

Feel overwhelmed at times? Don’t be afraid to ask your family or your spouse for help. Trying to be “supermom” or “superdad” is a recipe for stress, and your kids will benefit from your reaching out.

“You’ll make better decisions, you’ll be a better listener, and you’ll enjoy interacting more with your children,” says Dr. Pomeranets. “You’ll be less tempted to yell and more likely to model proper behavior for them.”

Find yourself feeling excessively and continuously worried? Talk to your healthcare provider, she says.

Connect with fellow parents

“Form connections with families whose kids are similar in age to relate to others in the same boat,” suggests Dr. Pomeranets. “You’ll find you’re not alone.”


This helps to normalize any feelings of stress, explains Zufan. “Talking with other parents lets me know that everyone goes through similar stressors,” she says.

Take a break from it all

When did you last truly connect with your partner? Plan to get away from your everyday routine.

“Make time to do things on your own, as a couple,” says Zufan. “A ‘date night’ once a month can help to keep your marriage strong and alleviate stress.”

Plan a getaway or vacation for your family, too. “I schedule time off when my kids have school breaks, so we can enjoy our time together,” says Dr. Pomeranets.

Keep your life well-balanced

Avoid overscheduling yourself every day and on weekends, says Dr. Pomeranets. Signing kids up for too many extracurriculars can stress them out — and the extra time, coordination and driving required kicks up the pressure on parents.

Also, every balanced life should include physical activity. The fact that working out and playing sports are great stress-relievers is icing on the cake.

“You can exercise in your own basement — you don’t need a gym,” says Dr. Pomeranets. “I try to do a little every day.”

The best reason of all to manage your stress is a simple one: “It allows you to feel the joy of parenting,” she says.

The more you experience good times and happy interactions with your kids, the easier it will be to handle bed-wetting, sibling rivalry and other parenting challenges with grace.

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Teen lying on bed holding cell phone up reading it
May 9, 2024/Parenting
Sexting: The Risks and How To Talk to Your Children About It

Sexting has become all too common among kids, putting them at risk for bullying, blackmailing and human trafficking

Two caregivers, with one holding a child on shoulders, walking happily outside
May 1, 2024/Parenting
Our Safe and Responsible Guide To Co-Parenting

Keeping open lines of communication and working together as a team for your children are key to co-parenting

Caregiver and child sitting in front of toilet holding toilet paper rolls
April 24, 2024/Children's Health
How To Potty Train: Our Best Tips

Set your child up for potty training success by waiting until they’re ready, keeping the pressure low and going heavy on the praise

Person in bed at night without covers, with fan blowing on them
April 17, 2024/Sleep
9 Reasons Why You’re Sweating in Your Sleep — And How To Get Relief

Getting to the root cause of night sweats — like menopause, medication side effects, stress or anxiety — can help you manage them

Person relaxing on couch at home, reading on a tablet
April 5, 2024/Mental Health
5 Surefire Ways To Help You Relax Right Now

Enter relaxation mode by managing your breathing, releasing muscle tension and practicing mindfulness

Person doing yoga outside, with oversized smartphone turned off in backround
March 15, 2024/Mental Health
When (and How) To Take a Social Media Break

Identify your triggers, set ground rules for your break and start practicing mindfulness

healthcare provider writing in notes, with glucometer, blood droplet, medicine and approved foods floating near
How Stress and Depression Affect Diabetes

A diabetes diagnosis, new or long-standing, can trigger reactions like grief, stress, depression and frustration, but symptom relief and help are available

Child using smartphone and with social media and texts bubbles around him
January 15, 2024/Children's Health
How Social Media Can Negatively Affect Your Child

Too much screen time and unrealistic expectations and perceptions and can lead to an increased risk of anxiety and depression

Trending Topics

Person in yellow tshirt and blue jeans relaxing on green couch in living room reading texts on their phone.
Here’s How Many Calories You Naturally Burn in a Day

Your metabolism may torch 1,300 to 2,000 calories daily with no activity

woman snacking on raisins and nuts
52 Foods High In Iron

Pump up your iron intake with foods like tuna, tofu and turkey