Reduce Family Stress When Managing a Crisis

Posted: February 22, 2016

Parenting is often challenging. When families are in crises due to divorce, illness, unemployment, or other issues, it can become even more difficult to maintain balance in the home...

Below are some ways from Utah State University to reduce stress and keep the family unit stable during family crisis.

  • Be flexible. Times of extreme change can cause disruptions in routines and expectations. Try to listen to what your children need and follow their lead if possible.
  • Take some “down time” to relax and reduce stress. Family time is important, but so is time when you don’t have anything in particular to do.
  • Invest time in family activities. Family time is often compromised by outside activities and busy schedules. Consider designating a special time for family fun. Play a board game together after dinner or watch a movie together on Sunday afternoons. Vacations and holidays are also good times to have fun family activities.
  • Make meal time family time. Try planning a meal at least a few times a week when everyone can be present. The meals don’t have to be fancy. Sharing soup and a sandwich together allows for time to talk about each family member’s day.
  • Be honest with your children in order to build trust. If a stressful event arises, tell them the facts of the situation. Remember to keep the discussion at the developmental level of your child. A three-year-old may need a very simple explanation, while a teenager may need a few more details.
  • Keep your interactions warm and positive. Parents under stress may sometimes pull away from their children due to depression or anger, or they may have a difficult time controlling their emotions. Be aware of the verbal and non-verbal messages you are sending. Also give more hugs and acknowledge your children’s accomplishments.
  • Be optimistic about your family's future. Let your children know that all families have challenges and that you will work together as a family to resolve this problem.
  • These techniques are also useful for maintaining closeness when there is not an immediate family crisis. Families will be healthier and better able to weather the challenges of life if they already have some of these practices in place.

To learn more about building healthy and resilient families, register for the Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth 10-14. Strengthening Families is seven sessions designed to reduce adolescent substance abuse and other problematic behaviors in youth ages 10 – 14 years. The program will be held at the Riverside Elementary East School from 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays starting March 17. All sessions are free and include a free meal for the entire family, free child care for younger children and prizes for attendance. For more information or to register for this fun, family oriented program, call Penn State Extension at 570-963-6842 by March 3.

Contact Information

Karen Thomas
  • Extension Educator, Food, Families & Health
Phone: 570-963-6842