The Evidence Portal

Support to cope with stress

Flexible activity

In this activity, parents are taught a range of strategies to:

  • identify causes of parenting stress
  • cope with the everyday stress of being a parent
  • manage their emotions when under pressure
  • practice parenting self-care.

The stress parents experience in their day-to-day lives can impact their ability to be effective in their parenting role. Parents who express consistent or high levels of parenting stress may have low emotional wellbeing, confidence and self-efficacy, have a negative view of parenting, and get less satisfaction out of their parenting role. For some parents, high levels of parenting stress could contribute to more intense psychological disorders, e.g. depression and anxiety. 

Supporting parents to cope with stress and to look after themselves can mean they’re better place to develop a positive relationship with their children and to respond appropriately to their children’s needs. 

How can it be implemented?

Supporting parents to deal with stress and to look after themselves can be implemented a number of different ways. You should use your professional judgement to determine what is most appropriate for your client/s.

Home visits:

  • Supporting parents to cope with stress can be addressed in a designated home visit(s). Alternatively, it may inform the broader approach taken when working with a family.
  • Home visits are typically conducted weekly, for 1-2hrs. Frequency can be reduced as needed.
  • Visits can be supplemented with telephone calls as need.
  • Workbook with program content can be provided to families.

One-off video and booklet:

  • Parents receive a booklet and DVD with skills-based modules about coping with parenting stress. 
  • The booklet may contain checklists and activities that reinforce messages from the video.

Group sessions:

  • Group sessions are weekly and last 2-3hrs. 
  • Group sessions may last for 12-20 weeks.
  • Supporting parents to cope with stress can be addressed in a designated group session. Alternatively, it may inform the broader approach taken when working with a family.

What should I consider when working with Aboriginal people and communities?

Aboriginal people may face unique stressors that need to be considered.  Aboriginal service delivery needs to acknowledge and address issues of intergenerational trauma, self-determination and Aboriginal people’s ongoing experiences of racism. The importance of including information about Aboriginal trauma and how to deliver trauma-informed practice in training programs related to cultural safety is asserted by Menzies and Grace (2020).

​​Aboriginal workers support cultural safety as they have a good understanding of Aboriginal ways of communication, the history of trauma, and community dynamics.

See the Cultural Safety and Wellbeing Evidence Review for further guidance on how to deliver culturally safe services and improve outcomes for Aboriginal people.

Who is the target group?

Activities that support parents to cope with stress have been implemented with a number of different target groups. Key characteristics include:

  • First time parents
  • Parents aged over 18
  • Parents with children aged 17 years and under
  • Parents on methadone maintenance and with children aged 2-8 years old.
  • Teenage mothers are risk of child maltreatment

What programs conduct this activity?

  • The All Babies Cry program focuses on normalizing and mitigating parental stress by offering recommendations for identifying and reducing parental stress resulting from newborn care.
  • The Colorado Adolescent Maternity Program includes home visits in which mothers are presented instructive material on peaceful, adaptive techniques for managing stress.  
  • In the Incredible Years Parenting Training program, parents participate in weekly group sessions that cover strategies for coping with stress.
  • The Parents Under Pressure (PUP) Program includes a home-visiting module on ‘How to Manage Emotions when under Pressure: Increasing Mindful Awareness’. This module teaches parents different strategies that help them cope more effectively when under pressure. It emphasizes the use of mindfulness-based strategies.
  • Taking care of oneself as a parent is on five key principles of the Triple P program. Parents in Level 5 of Triple P are taught self-regulation skills and parental mood management and coping skills. They learn how to apply different techniques and strategies related to their goals.

What else should I consider?

Parenting stress can caused by many different things (e.g. lack of social support, financial troubles, insecure housing, behavioural issues in children,). While supporting parents to cope with stress is vital, practitioners should also ensure they work with parents to identify and address the cause of their stress.  

Further resources

Last updated:

25 Nov 2022

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We acknowledge Aboriginal people as the First Nations Peoples of NSW and pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future. 

Informed by lessons of the past, Department of Communities and Justice is improving how we work with Aboriginal people and communities. We listen and learn from the knowledge, strength and resilience of Stolen Generations Survivors, Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal communities.

You can access our apology to the Stolen Generations.

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