All families face stress together as a unit.  This kind of stress can be caused by something that happens within the home such as an unexpected illness, arguments over household chores, or constant bickering among the kids. It can also be the result of one or more external factors such as a layoff from work or failing to repay a loan for several months.

Regardless of the cause or source of stress, it is important that families know how to deal with these trying times. When families are successful in managing their stress, they will emerge stronger and be more prepared for future problems.

Handling Stress in the Household

Attending family therapy sessions is an effective way of helping everyone deal with and reduce tension at home. The family therapist can create a treatment plan specifically designed for a problematic family situation.

With each session, the therapist will encourage everyone to talk about their worries and fears and anything they want to discuss. Everyone will also be taught how to deepen family connections and how to get through stressful times.

Aside from signing up for group counseling, here are other simple tips that will help everyone in the family reduce and manage stress:

1.     Put family dinners on everyone’s daily schedule

With everyone having different times for leaving and coming back home, it is often impossible to have the whole family present for breakfast and dinner especially during weekdays. However, by setting dinner at around seven or later, you can ensure everyone will be present at the table.

Sit-down family dinners are great opportunities for everyone to talk and catch up with each other. During these discussions, you will be able to know the things that may be causing your children stress.

You can then teach your kids techniques on how to manage the pressures they are facing so they do not manifest the stress they feel in other ways. This will also help them manage future problems and prevent issues from getting full-blown.

When you feel your family opening up and see everyone happy and enjoying the meal, you will also feel your stress melt away. Everyone at the table will also forget their worries when they are having a good time during dinner.

2.     Spend 20 to 30 minutes of downtime with your kids every day

Helping your kids do their homework is a great way of spending time and bonding with them. However, research shows that non-directive play with kids can deepen the parent-child bond more. It also helps children work out deep inner conflict which can help alleviate their worries and anxieties.

Examples of fun non-directive play you can engage with your children are playing dress up, building a fort, and jumping on a trampoline.

Watching TV as a family is also a great way to bond with your kids. Watching a comedy film, for instance, will help everyone forget their worries and share lots of great laughs. However, make sure you limit their TV time daily or weekly.

3.     Don’t bring stress into your home

Generally, parents are the leading sources of stress at home. When they have problems at work or have conflicts with their friends or colleagues, they can unintentionally take out their stress on their family. This will ultimately lead to family stress.

As a parent, you have to avoid being the cause of stress at home. Start by listening to some calming music and practice deep breathing while driving home. And before entering your home, pause for a minute or two and mentally leave your anxieties and worries outside.

By leaving your stress outside, you will be in a better mood to see and interact with your spouse or partner and your children. You can also use downtime with your family as an opportunity to regroup, gather your thoughts, and start afresh.

4.     Set aside five to ten minutes of “me” time daily

Aside from spending time with your family every day, make sure you set aside a few minutes for some alone time.

This “me” time can come in the form of gardening, working out, or reading a few chapters of a book you recently bought. You can also do yoga or do some mental exercises to create and/or work on your goals.

By doing something you like or relaxing for five to ten minutes alone or away from your kids, you will feel refreshed and energized to do everything you need to do at home. You will also be less inclined to snap at your kids if they are being fussy or a bit overactive.

5.     Be a role model

Finally, your kids will be less likely to be easily irritated and to take out their stress on others if they see that you have a healthy approach to dealing with your anxieties.

Even if you want nothing else to do but to scream or lash out at others, calm yourself. Exercise, jump on the trampoline and engage in other healthy ways of releasing your pent up emotions.

More importantly, teach these techniques to your kids so that everyone will learn how to cope with and manage stress correctly.

Whether your family experiences stress regularly or infrequently, follow these tips. By doing so, everyone will learn to deal with stress more effectively.


Dr. Gemma Gladstone is an endorsed clinical psychologist and certified schema therapist, supervisor and trainer. Along with Justine Corry, she is co-director of the Good Mood Clinic in Sydney and has 24 years of experience within mental health.